I hope that this assessment provides a springboard for new conversations and digital capacity in the presenting field.
The question at the core of this work is who will be the digital intermediaries for the performing arts; and whether the presenting field can carve out a digital space that supports and benefits the entire performing arts eco-system. Doing so, I think, would require both a transfer and an expansion of the arts presenting expertise we see on the theatre platform to new digital platforms.
Presenters historically have been the dominant platform where performing arts and audiences connect. The theatre, stage or the festival site literally act as a platform. With that, this report seeks to begin to answer – or at least inform – big questions:
Can live arts presenters re-invent distribution of performing arts at digital scale?
How will Canadian artistic talent be nurtured and supported to grow viable careers and earn fair compensation in the digital realm?
How can we, and should we, as a free, vibrant society assure a broad diversity of voices that reflect all of Canada is heard in digital spaces as well as live performance spaces?
What is the future of live Canadian theatre, dance, music and other performing arts as digital technologies and capacities of data networks continue to advance?
On a personal note, I so appreciate and enjoy working with my colleague-client, Frédéric Julien, Director of Research and Development at CAPACOA. He is a tireless advocate in the arts; and equal parts smart, rigorous in his thinking and affable. Thank you, Frédéric, for your work and your collaboration!
On Monday March 13, CAPACOA and Strategic Moves will facilitate an interactive web conversation on Digital Innovation in Performing Arts Presentation. Everyone is welcome to participate (10 am Pacific/1 pm Eastern).
At the CAPACOA conference in Halifax this past January, attendee feedback suggested that I made a compelling case for Breaking the Fifth Wall: Digitizing the Performing Arts. Indeed, attendees were buzzing with the challenges and opportunities presented. Others who have watched the presentation online have asked me how they can get involved. You can watch my talk here on video. In it, I weave together a case for sector-leadership and sector-ownership in developing a future digital platform. I am most excited about digitization beyond the 2-D screens we have today. In particular, I believe a future-oriented perspective requires us to contemplate live-streaming/streaming 3-D renderings; holographic and or virtual reality convergence in technologies. Things most of us have never seen but enabling technology solutions are advancing rapidly.
In this talk I offered a brief context of digital transformation in the last 20 years, an overview of experiments in digital performing arts presentation from around the world, a perspective on what it take to transform the challenging economic model that persists in live performing arts for the presenting field in particular, and a call to action.
At the upcoming CAPACOA national conference in Ottawa from November 25 to 28 I hope to turn that buzz into tangible action: Together with CAPACOA, we invite you talk about the next steps we as a sector want to take to drive this discussion forward and explore opportunities of digital distribution at scale in Canada and beyond. Can we establish a working group to spearhead conversations and build sector leadership on this central issue? Who wants to be and needs to get involved?
Or in plain language: what are 4G speeds on LTE networks which started to come online in Canada in 2012 going to enable for theatre goers and dance attendees as well as presenters and producing companies?
During the first year of conducting Value of Presenting workshops there was little appetite to consider anything but the utility of social media in selling tickets. A breakthrough happened at the CAPACOA conference in January 2013 and now it feels like more and more presenters are beginning to see that web-based mobile technologies are going to create leaps in value for audiences and perhaps artists, producers and presenters. We presented at the Creative City Summit in Ottawa in May 2013 what we found out from Canadians and presenters about their use and attitudes to digital technologies and how Canadians’ views of what “live” means to them might be evolving.
At APAP|NYC we presented on this topic (PDF) this month as well and just last week the 2014 CAPAOCA conference featured a successful workshop with presenters on the opportunities, the values of both streamed and live experiences, facilitated by Frederic Julien from CAPACOA.
Watch this Youtube video by Alcatel-Lucent which was created in 2009 (!) to demonstrate their technology vision and emerging capabilities. The final minute shows a vision of a performing arts experience, begging for a presenting business model!
What will the successful strategic move look like?
Over the last few months I’ve worked with a team from Banfield-Seguin on the City of Cornwall Economic Development Department’s rebranding and business / resident attraction programs.
We gained a great deal of insight from the research process, where we talked to a lot of people in Cornwall about Cornwall, conducted a review of economic development success stories as well as a reputation assessment based on news media and web coverage. Based on the findings, we felt that the next strategic move would be to give the people in Cornwall even more of a voice in shaping the city’s new brand story. We thought the benefits of that approach would be considerable: we would shift perceptions about Cornwall, earn the residents’ trust in the work, make it real and foster buy in to the process and its outcomes.
In close collaboration with the team, we came up with the It’s My Cornwall contest. With great local media support, and direct, on-the-ground engagement, for instance through a day at the mall to solicit on-the-spot video and audio submissions, we got more than 130 entries in 19 days. Then we short-listed the 20 best entries, and promoted voting: 5,071 votes were cast.
The energy and enthusiam generated was palpable. We even got CTV Ottawa coverage for this initiative. All that bodes well for the next steps in rebranding and marketing Cornwall.