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Digital Training and Consultancy for Arts Organisations.

22 Jun

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In these shifting times we all have to rethink our approach to making work and how we can maintain and develop our connections with our audiences and communities.

Let me help you – I am an Arts and Digital specialist with over 25 years of leadership experience both in delivering and making work. I have pioneered Live to Digital delivery projects for the last ten years for a number of different organisations. I can work with you to help you deliver the right plan for you and your organisation.

I can help you to create an effective shift in your organisation’s thinking and enable you to make a new Digital Culture happen within your team. It can be about how to work more effectively using zoom or video conferencing with your team, right through to digital capture and distribution of your work.

I have been working across new delivery platforms on my recent projects and can share my learning and knowledge with you either on a one to one basis, or in consultation with your wider team.

I will assess your current digital capacity and create the right training and resources for you and your team. The key part of the programme will be to develop your Digital Strategy in terms of delivery, and in doing so your organisation will develop a strong and embedded Digital Culture which is the shift all organisations are looking to develop right now.

I am able to create bespoke solutions for you.

If you are interested in having an initial conversation where we can chat all these things through – just drop me an email marcus@artsbeacon.uk

My recent article for ArtsProfessional about the Pivot to Digital in the Arts Sector.

Marcus Romer was CEO and Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre from 1994 – 2016. He was interim Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds from July 2019 – June 2020. He is now a freelance Director, Writer and Filmmaker and Creative Director of Artsbeacon UK. He has been an Associate Artist for Theatre Royal Stratford East, Harrogate Theatre, National Theatre Wales, and Collusion. He has delivered Digital Consultancy work for SOLT and UK Theatre, Home, Manchester, Arts Council England, Creative England, The British Council, The European Theatre Convention, Chichester Festival Theatre, Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, Stephen Joseph Theatre, New Norske Theatre, Oslo, Innovation Norway, LIPA, Barclays UK, Norwich City Council, Cambridge City Council. He created Shift Happens Conferences, and helped to produce No Boundaries in 2014 and 2015 with Arts Council England.

#SHEDx talk with Marcus Romer and Bill Thompson

22 May

 

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Welcome to the first SHEDx talk – from my shed – as we are under lockdown from the Covid-19 pandemic. I wanted to put together some talks by interesting people who have interesting things to say. As some of you will know I have run a TEDx and indeed several Shift-Happens conferences which again brought together interesting people who shared their ideas and thoughts with an audience.

So for our first SHEDx I invited Bill Thompson to share his Idas about a pot pandemic world and how some of the technologies that brought us to this crisis might need to be shifted to help us build a better future.

The format is that I introduce the speaker via Zoom from my shed – and they then present their talk. The idea is that main talks are no more than 10 minutes long and that they ask us some difficulty questions.

There will be more to follow – and if you are interested in being part of sharing your thoughts as part of SHEDx please drop me a line marcusromeruk@gmail.com

The video with intro and chat with me first …

 

The video of Bill’s talk without the chat and intro

 

SHEDx acknowledges the work of TED but is not affiliated to it. Marcus Romer has run TEDxYork and attended the TED conference several times. In the current lockdown period this is a series of talks looking at the issues facing us with speakers from around the world.

Marcus Romer is delivering one-to one online courses for Arts Practitioners, Actors, Directors and Arts Organisations

1 May

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Marcus Romer

Artistic Director / Theatre  / Film / Digital 

New one-to one courses for Arts Practitioners, Actors, Directors and Arts Organisations

I am an award winning director and theatre maker who has led Arts Council funded National organisations for over 25 years. I have a specialism in creating and directing new work in theatre and film, with additional skills in digital capture and live-streaming of productions. I am offering one to one sessions online for actors, directors and arts organisations across the UK. These include:-

Audition and Monologue preparation and rehearsal. These could be for drama school entry, self taping, showreels,  or ongoing acting training.

Presenting and acting for camera skills

Script reading and dramaturgical advice on pieces of new writing.

Application advice and one to one support for arts funding and job submissions 

Live to Digital practical skills and training – including live-streaming and online platform creative work delivery.

Digital strategy – planning and delivery

Business Plans and strategic planning for arts organisations.

Marcus was Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre,  Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds and Associate Artist for Theatre Royal Stratford East and Harrogate Theatre and National Theatre, Wales. He wrote and co-directed The Knife That Killed Me for Universal Pictures. He has directed shows that have opened and played in more than 30 theatres across the UK. He has developed digital strategies for Manchester Royal Exchange, Chichester Festival Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Kettle’s Yard, Home, Manchester. He has taught and directed at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

All one to one courses are bespoke for each person or organisation. With concessionary rates for students and early career artists and a sliding scale for funded organisations.

Please drop me a line at marcusromeruk@gmail.com for an initial chat

 

marcusromer.com

Making and directing a piece of #ZoomTheatre across Norway during the #lockdown

8 Apr

Screen Shot 2020-04-08 at 14.19.36Welcome to Radio Harstad…

Harstad is a beautiful town in the Arctic Circle, and I have been visiting and working there every year since 2016. I first went when my film was screened at the Arctic Moving Image Film Festival. I was invited by my now friend and colleague Helene Hokland who is the festival director and who also runs the lovely 1930’s cinema in the town. To screen The Knife That Killed Me – and to do a director’s Q and A. Also to run a workshop for the FHS in Harstad and their drama and performing arts students.

It was here that I was taken to the school at the north of the town, which runs from an enormous building that houses the students and staff. It is a one or two year residential course and the students come from all over Norway. It is a tertiary college and students range in age from 18 – 23. It has a drama and film black box studio, a recording studio as well as making spaces, large communal rooms and the most amazing view across the Fjords.

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The Theatre Director is a wonderfully creative powerhouse and inspiring woman called Hege Fjeld who runs the course and leads the students. She has invited me back every year to work with her and her students and it is an immense privilege to do so. I normally spend a week working and making something with Hege and her students. This year of course is different. All the students are at home under lockdown across Norway from Alta in the very North to South of Oslo – a distance of over 1200 miles and 24 ours of driving. Norway is huge…So over the last week, Hege and I have been working remotely in Harstad and Cambridge and making and directing this piece together.

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So we have spent last week for two hours a day meeting on Zoom and working through a script version of War of the Worlds that Hege has translated. Here you can see one of the students, Embla, presenting as the weather reporter for North Norway where you can see Harstad at 8 degrees on the West Coast.

We rehearsed the students together and individually on the Zoom platform. We used the additional backgrounds tool and were able to add in all the locations we needed for this first part of the project. You can see the Radio Harstad insert via green screen on the picture at the top too.

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We chose the backgrounds carefully to allow the students to be placed in the locations for their direct to camera address. Part of the online rehearsal and work was about getting the light right, and also the capture device at eye level for the actors to rehearse straight down the lens. All too often the image on the screen is who speakers tend to talk to and this is too low for eyelines.

So after rehearsal we were able to then mute and take off screen all the other students and focus on the main speaker. We then used the capture and record button to shoot a take. This was done a few times then the files were then transferred to Hege and the edit suite and studio back in Harstad.

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Some characters were supposed to be in the same location. So again with careful use of a correctly angled background image we were able to give that illusion between the interviewer Karoline Phillips and Professor Pedersen in our shot above.

The files were then edited together and additional foley sound and score were added from the recording studio at the school. We have completed the first part of the project and we have 18 minutes of captured, edited and scored material. We will meet for a couple of hours a day from the middle of next week and complete this piece of work.

It is incredibly rewarding to spend creative time with such talented students, and the learning for all of us has been a rapid curve over the 5 days we spent working.

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The Zoom platform is great for recording – and the sound quality is very good indeed. The image quality depends on bandwidth at each end, and this can vary when the platform is in heavy usage.

The excitement of going for a take is the same as any form of filmmaking or theatre production. It involves focus and concentration and this is undoubtedly a really good training opportunity for the students. This level of focus and discipline from within their own home environments during this time – is the same for all of us.

I have always been excited to explore the possibilities of how we can harness the power of emergent technologies to make connections and creative work happen. From early livestreaming work back in 2008 – through to multiple camera livestreams and making feature films in Green Screen studios. This exploration with Zoom Theatre is part of that journey.

If anyone would like to know more about the process please drop me a line on here or find me as @marcusromer on social platforms.

I am going to leave you with another view of the Arctic Circle with its amazing light and clarity. IMG_5787

Betty’s, Taylors and Harrogate Theatre

27 Jul

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Dawn Taylor from Bettys & Taylors, Manli Siu and Marcus Romer from Harrogate Theatre

26/07/2018

Livestream Harrogate’s Panto? Oh, yes we will!

Two of Harrogate’s historic institutions met today, with a generous donation from Bettys & Taylors to Harrogate Theatre.

They showed their support for a great cause – Associate Artist Marcus Romer’s ambitious plan to livestream this year’s pantomime into hospitals, hospices and adult social care homes across North Yorkshire.

Here at Harrogate Theatre, we’re really proud of our much-loved annual pantomime, which is written and directed in-house – and we don’t want anyone to miss out on the fun this Christmas.

So, we’ve planned a number of projections and screenings of this year’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk, which families can enjoy together in partnership with Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, where will screen the production in children’s wards, waiting areas and even the lecture theatre of Harrogate Hospital and Ripon Hospital.

This project is ground-breaking for Harrogate and will potentially change the way we look at inclusivity in the arts, making a real difference to people over the festive break.

“I am delighted that we are able to work closely with Harrogate Theatre to turn this idea into a reality and make such a positive difference for patients, their relatives and our staff. We know how popular the pantomime is and it’s fantastic that community organisations can come together in this way”

Find out more or get involved with this exciting project here…

https://www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk/news/posts/2018/april/local-businesses-take-centre-stage/

 

 

A new creative phase #shifthappens

17 Feb

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Shift Happens – funnily enough, I know all about that, and also I know that it is a good thing that it does. I have some exciting news, and I am really looking forward to the next creative phase of my work and life. I have just pressed ‘send’ on the final delivery of Graeae’s ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ edit of the Live to Digital Capture that I produced for The Space whilst at Theatre Royal Stratford East. This will be going into cinemas  via the Cinegi distribution network later this year, and I am delighted to have been able to deliver this as part of my last project at Stratford East.

I am stepping down after nearly two years as Stratford East’s Digital Associate Artist to take up a new position as one of the directors of a new National Theatre Wales piece for their #NHS70 celebration project in July this year. I have already started on this and I am really looking forward to working with all the team in Cardiff and on the project in Newport. More info on this will follow in due course on the next stage of their launch for this project. As someone who used to work in the NHS many moons ago it seems like my creative paths have aligned for this project and I am really looking forward to it.

I will be sorry to leave TRSE, it has been an amazing family of creative practitioners over the time I was there, and the building and the people will always hold special memories for me as a director. The fact that I directed Antigone there as my last show before leaving Pilot as Artistic Director was a really great experience, and this led to the opportunities to develop my live to digital practice with the livestreams of shows into hospitals, hospices and Adult social care homes. Speaking about these initiatives across conferences in Europe led me to develop this work for Ramps on the Moon with their production of ‘Tommy’ and also for the more recent Graeae production of ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’

Since making  ‘The Knife That Killed Me’ – the feature film for Universal Pictures –  I have continued to develop this practice into working across the theatre, film and digital distribution space for audiences, and I know this is where my passion lies. So I am delighted to be able to be working on a new project, not only for National Theatre Wales, but also to be developing two new projects with Collusion, the Cambridge based company that works on the interface between Arts and Technology.

With Collusion I am working with new teams of artists across to develop two new public facing arts/tech engagement projects. These build on an R&D project that I was the lead artist on in King’s Lynn during last year. Again there will be more to let you know about these projects in the coming months. But in the meantime a lot of creative preparation is underway to deliver some new performance projects that will be totally brand new in every respect!

Also my work in Yorkshire was clearly not finished, as I will also be picking up on some work I did at the end of last year and as a result of this I will be returning to Harrogate Theatre as an Associate Artist, where we will be building some new large scale project ideas together, as well as developing some new live to digital opportunities for audiences across Yorkshire. I am looking forward to this too immensely. I have really enjoyed being back up North again, catching up with old mates and colleagues, and generally keeping in creative mischief.

So new doors and new opportunities are always exciting and positive, and I look forward  to being able to keep you posted about how the new creative projects are shaping up and developing.

The photo? I took it in Madrid this January when I was visiting my son who now lives there. It reminds me that wherever you are in the world – you have to keep moving the trash out of the way to make shift happen…

 

Making Digital Strategies come to life in Arts Organisations

28 Jan

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‘Making the good stuff happen’ has been at the top of my work schedule over the past year or so. It builds on my work with live streaming theatre since 2008 – and I realise that this has been a 10 year journey to help deliver work to new audiences in new spaces.

This has most recently been seen in the ‘live to digital’ work I have been doing at Theatre Royal Stratford East, and something that I have been leading on over the 18 months for the organisation. We have livestreamed work into hospitals, hospices and adult social care homes.

This year we took the livestream of the Rapunzel panto into Bart’s Health Trust, and we included Newham University Hospital (pictured above), St Francis’ Hospice in Romford, and Richard House Children’s Hospice in Beckton. It was made available online on a closed channel that broadcast the performance in HD with full stereo sound. This was picked up online and shared onto smart TV’s, laptops, projectors, iPads and smartphones. It worked across all devices.

We have been supported by Galliard Homes for the pantomime and the livestream was also supported too, with The Space helping us to to deliver this.

We shot the matinee on 29th December with 4 HD cameras that also shoot 4k. They are BlackmagicDesign units and they are tiny, so there is no audience disruption, to any need to take any seats off sale. We can capture, cut and deliver work fast, live and in the moment with the team. There is a full sound mix and we cut this live between the wide shots and the camera operators picking up the close ups and tighter shots.

The theatre has been on board with this development, and have got how this works. The work between the different departments have enabled the collaboration needed to make this a success.

This is how I think Digital needs to work in Arts organisations. It is about finding the ways to reach and connect with audiences. To help to disseminate the work and to provide opportunities to create a ‘Digital Outreach’ programme of activity.

Digital is about being able to create more opportunities for access points for audiences. So this does not just sit in the responsibility of just one department. More often, digital falls under the umbrella of marketing  and communications. This is not the only place this work needs to sit. Digital by its very nature is pervasive and touches and affects all aspects of the organisation, and as such should provide links and synergies across all departments. This will encourage a shift in thinking across the work that is created, the internal systems and all the outward facing aspects of the Arts organisation.

I have been delivering digital strategies for leading Arts organisations over the last year, these have included Chichester Festival Theatre, Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Harrogate Theatre and Kettle’s Yard Museum and Gallery. In all these organisations there is the real willingness to develop and to deliver  a new way of working within the digital space in this way.

However, at the moment, there are many obstacles in the way for arts organisations to get on board with this. Hurdles of rights, permissions, and legal stuff. All important stuff, but we surely need to find a way to streamline this and push the tech and opportunities forward.

To help do this I have put together a ‘how to get started’ with all this, for UK Theatre. This was published on their site this year, and I am now attaching my redrafted version here, which hopefully might be useful.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas about how we might develop this work in the future…

Thanks – here is the guide for you

LivestreamingGuidebyMarcusRomer

marcus@artsbeacon.uk

Christmas Thanks…when you are freelance

19 Dec

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It’s the end of my second year as a freelance creative director, and I am planning my freelance Christmas Party works ‘do’ – in actual fact I will probably have a cup of coffee in my slippers and a mince pie about 2pm today….Well I say that of course, but I have been invited to several ones at the places I have worked this year, but as I am doing all my admin and accounts at the moment I have had to give my apologies.

Going through the list of organisations I have had the privilege of working with this year – and what a year it has been,  I have a lot of people and work colleagues to thank. It goes without saying that there has been a great deal of variety and travel. Yes lots of travel. 25,000 miles in the car and hundreds of train journeys – and my box of orange train tickets is overflowing on my desk as I write.

So in kind of date order in terms of working I would like to thank Theatre Royal Stratford  East and the new livestreams we have created together this year, both with the in-house team but also with Ramps on the Moon, for ‘Tommy’, and also with Graeae and The Space for ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’ which will be released into cinemas in 2018. Still gearing up we will be livestreaming the TRSE panto, Rapunzel into Hospitals and Hospices on December 28th 2017.

I very much enjoyed working with the students at the University of York as I lectured and ran the practical sessions about acting for camera for the Theatre Film and Television cohort.

A thanks also to Creative England and the Eagle Labs team from Barclays in Brighton, and for all the new startups I worked with as part of the Flight programme. A big thanks too to Collusion in Cambridge, and the creative teams in King’s Lynn we worked with as part of the projection challenge project. Continuing the work with Collusion on their new challenge with the creative teams in Bury St Edmunds into 2018 is continuation of this exciting project.

Thanks also to all the Theatres I worked with, helping them to develop their digital plans and ideas for the next four years, these were Chichester Festival Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough, Harrogate Theatres, Theatre Royal Stratford East, and also Kettle’s Yard Museum and Gallery here in Cambridge. ‘Doing Digital Differently’ was the theme across all these organisations, and it was inspiring to work with the teams from each of those buildings across the country, and reminding me how much I enjoy working in those creative environments. As part of this work I was also asked to speak at two conferences in the UK about Digital and Theatre Design and VR in Scarborough and London.

I also got invited to speak and work in Europe, so a big thanks to the European Theatre Consortium for inviting me to deliver a keynote in Karlsruhe in Germany for their European Theatre Lab project. Also to the New Norske National Theatre in Oslo for inviting me to their away week planning session. Also to the Harstad Folkehøgskole for inviting me back to work with their students in the Arctic Circle once again.

More travel took me to Cardiff several times to work with National Theatre Wales and to help shape their NHS70 project which will run in 2018 as a 70 year celebration of the NHS.

The year also saw me back up in Yorkshire, working at Harrogate Theatre and working  with the team there to help them deliver their new 4 year plan. I loved being back in Yorkshire again, and the team there are amazing, and work so hard to deliver an extraordinary programme.

Most recently I worked with the brilliant Coventry 2012 City of Culture team, as they prepared for their successful interview which resulted in them securing the UK City of Culture title for the City.

So from a year that started with me working in Norwich with John Knell and the Council team and all the cultural organisations, through to the forthcoming livestream from Theatre Royal Stratford East it has been a real privilege, and I have worked with some amazing people. I have learned loads and I look forward to continuing to make new connections and to tackle new challenges in 2018.

Thanks to all who have made this a stimulating and rewarding work year. I will raise a mince pie to you all in my slippers this afternoon.

🙂

Happy Christmas and See you in 2018

 

Mx

Marcus Romer – Keynote Speech from the European Theatre Convention – 2017

5 Sep

This was from Karlsruhe in Germany this year, where I gave a keynote speech on the subject of Digital Innovation in Theatre as part of the EU Theatre lab Conference ad part of the European Theatre Convention

Make Digital Culture Happen #NPO #Artsfunding

27 Jun

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This is for all the National Portfolio organisations who have just received the news from Arts Council England.

First, let me congratulate you on becoming part of the National Portfolio. Having run an NPO and delivered two successful funding rounds for my Board I know the work and energy you and your teams have put in to achieve this.

In becoming a National Portfolio client, part of your work will be to deliver your Digital Plan. More importantly how your Digital Strategy fits into your business plan and forms part of your delivery programme for your audiences. This needs to be sorted before January 2018.

This is where I can help.

I am an Arts and Digital specialist with over 20 years of leadership experience both in delivering and making work. I have pioneered Live to Digital delivery projects for the last ten years for a number of different organisations. I can work with you to help you deliver the right plan for your company.

I have developed a new Training Programme for Arts Organisations that will  help you to create an effective shift in your organisation’s capacity and enable you to make a new Digital Culture happen within your team.

I will Assess your current Digital capacity and Create the right Training and Resources for you and your teamThe key part of the programme will be to develop your Digital Strategy in terms of delivery, and in doing so your organisation will develop a strong and embedded Digital Culture.

I am able to work closely with a number of organisations to create bespoke solutions for your Digital Plan and Delivery Timetable.

If you are interested please register your interest for a conversation by contacting me here marcus@artsbeacon.uk

MakeDigitalCultureHappen.com

 

Marcus Romer is a freelance Director, Writer and Filmmaker. He is Creative Director of Artsbeacon UK, and Associate Artist for Theatre Royal Stratford East, National Theatre Wales, and Collusion. He has delivered Digital Consultancy work for SOLT and UK Theatre, Home, Manchester, Arts Council England, Creative England, The British Council, The European Theatre Convention, New Norske Theatre, Oslo, Innovation Norway, LIPA, Barclays UK, Norwich City Council, Cambridge City Council. He created Shift Happens Conferences, and helped to produce No Boundaries in 2014 and 2015. He was CEO and Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre from 1994 – 2016.