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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.