Our first sold-out Regenerate Series event unpicked Digital: the new performance space with panellists Jess Gillam, saxophonist and founder of the Virtual Scratch Orchestra, John Nolan, Director of Learning, Engagement and Innovation from Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Paul Carey Jones, bass-baritone and blogger.
The discussion was extremely wide-ranging as the panel discussed with Jan Ford, our Senior Creative Producer, how the sector has adapted to the move to online performance spaces and what the implications are long-term for the future of orchestral music.
Here are some of the key themes and takeaways from the discussion:
- Digital spaces are as much performance spaces, as they are participatory places. Audiences and project participants need to be given as much agency as musicians to engage with others through them.
- Digital offers the chance to open up access to people who can’t normally visit a concert hall or for people who find traditional concert hall formats prohibitive.
- Online performance can never replicate the experience of performing in a concert hall for musicians. It is simply not possible to replicate the true feeling of liveness and sensory experience online.
- Monetisation of online content. There are no solid answers or examples of income generation success at the moment. Paywalls could mean we lose the large, diverse online audiences we are starting to gain. We need to communicate better with our audiences that online content costs money to produce.
- Emotional response to online content from audiences is high; sense of collective experience for audiences that they are sharing with others worldwide. We can still engage with audiences in a meaningful way during this time.
- Crisis has highlighted pre-existing flaws in our industry in terms of being digitally literate and a lack of suitable strategy and the technical skills to produce it.
The panel also identified opportunities for the sector to consider working towards:
- Digital provides a chance to connect with a global audience with no boundaries; we need to think bigger in our audience development and engagement strategies.
- We have a chance to create something new; to consider what formats and products suit the online space and audiences best rather than what suits us as producers and performers. Thinking more holistically about what we can offer – not just churning out archival performances and replicating the concert hall online.
- Using digital to support greater accessibility to orchestral music for those who find attending in person difficult.
- Rethinking the touring experience after the crisis and taking the holistic online approach on the road. How can orchestras provide musicians and soloists with opportunities to work in local communities with different groups of people, alongside their professional performance touring commitments.
- There is an opportunity to create a new model for freelance musicians to cover what they do beyond performing in a venue.
We’ll be announcing the next event in the series soon and you can be the first to find out about it by signing up to our e-news list here:
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