– no boundaries – a tale of two cities @nbd2014 @pilot_theatre

27 Nov


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness”

Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities –

For No Boundaries – those cities are Bristol and York

Prior to getting involved with helping to deliver this conference for Arts Council England and the British Council – I have been doing a bit of thinking and working out how we got to this place and how things come about. So a bit like reverse engineering it was good to look at the DNA of some of the technical and shifts in the history of Pilot Theatre’s innovative practice.

We have been livestreaming our work from Pilot Theatre for more than 5 years now. We first streamed some of our first Shift Happens conference in July 2008 on the then nascent livestream channel which was then called the ‘Mogulus channel’ My interest in this technology stemmed from my first trip to the TED conference in Monterey back in February 2007. Here I saw the first touchscreen handheld devices (that are now ubiquitous) and saw handheld screens delivering video and live content for the first time. I realised then that the genie was out of the bottle and we were now looking at a different horizon in terms of how we would view the world and the work that we make – particularly in the Arts and Creative Industries.

So I decided to draw together a conference that looked at these possibilities, and Shift Happens was born in 2008. I invited over from New York, Julie Borchard-Young, whose company – ‘By Experience’ was running and delivering the New York Metropolitan Opera broadcasts into cinemas. They were the first to do this, and I was fortunate to be in New York at the time to see how they did it, and to meet Julie, and for her to agree to come over from New York to talk to us in Old York to share her ideas. In our audience back then was David Sabel – who struck up a discussion with Julie to do a feasibility study into the possibility of doing the same for the National Theatre. Within 2 years NTLive was created. ShiftHappens? yes it certainly still does. We ran our 5th Shift conference this year

It was great to catch up with David Sabel last week at the NT to talk about new possibilities – and more of that later – but like all these technologies they have the ability to disrupt and change the game and that is what are continuing to do here at Pilot. Which is why we have two pieces of information that are recharting the course for us as we evolve and understand our civic and leadership role.

The first is that Pilot Theatre are part of the consortium with Watershed Bristol to deliver No Boundaries – the next iteration of the State of the Arts Conference – and this is a commission from Arts Council England and the British Council – on February 25/26 / 2014 .This is really a tale from two cities – Bristol and York, where we will use our technology and teams to link up the speakers and events live and online. The contributor list is growing and we look forward to welcoming you to either the Guildhall in York or The Watershed in Bristol for this event.

The second bit of information is that we have landed a two year contract with the City of York Council to livestream their Council and Cabinet meetings. Again this is part of our civic role of being in a City and working together with our partners and funders to deliver open and accessible information to everyone in the City in which we make our work. This partnership unlocked a great participation with the City with our recent Blood + Chocolate project and again as providers of the Guildhall in York for the conference and access to the high speed Ja.net fibre link between York and Bristol.

News just in too – that York has been awarded an Ofcom TV licence – so again the partnership working we have with Science City York and the creative infrastructure can really make shift happen in a place that has implications and we can all reach much further.

Working in this space isn’t always easy. Thinking, even just an arms reach reach into the future, for some people is threatening and doing new stuff and convincing people that we can do this can sometimes be exhausting – We have been doing this for the last 15 years and here is a list of the ways we have been trying to shift thinking and make new stuff happen. I have written on here too about the challenges and rewards of making new stuff – here is a link to that blogpost.

Find out for yourselves – come and join us No Boundaries Feb 25 / 26 2014

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