A UK theatre opens up its work-in-progress series to Web audiences

Matt Trueman, The Guardian's Culture Professionals Network, 8/31/12

David Jubb, co-artistic director of Battersea Arts Centre, [said]: "Obviously there are great things like NT Live, but for my money, theatre is not exploring the full creative potential of what digital engagement might be." BAC is hoping to change that [with] a radical new digital initiative called Scratch Online. As the name suggests, it's an extension of BAC's scratch methodology [started in 2000], whereby artists expose work-in-progress to audiences at various points in the development process and build on the feedback. Now, though not without its critics, scratch is used all over the world, from the Sydney Opera House to the RSC. Together with his co-director David Micklem, Jubb started considering the possibility of a digital equivalent 18 months ago. "One of the earliest realisations was that live streaming might be one of the least important aspects," says Jubb, who felt the shoestring that scratch inevitably necessitates would make a "crap" viewing experience of little benefit to either party. That decision saw Scratch Online shift into the realm of social network. The site aims to use existing online tools (YouTube, Twitter, comment boxes) "to enable people with creative ideas to come together to share and develop them." To do so requires some sort of incentive: As such, [their developer,] NativeHQ proposed a new element to scratch called an 'Itch', which, says Jubb, "is pre-scratch, just an idea, maybe for a show or a radio play or a story that you can share at that inceptive stage and see if anyone wants to scratch it with you." The aim is to attract other artists interested in collaborating or producers capable of turning the itch into an actual scratch. On one level, Jubb believes this allows BAC to "uncover idea and talent that it might otherwise take us years to find." More importantly, though, "it demystifies the theatre-making process," Jubb added. "Audience members can track a piece of work or an artist, enter into dialogue with those artists and come to understand how things get put together." Of course, there are concerns - presenting unfinished work is a delicate activity. Done live, an unspoken social contract exists between audience and artist. Online, that could easily get lost or willfully obliterated, leaving artists vulnerable. Jubb recognises the need "to develop a culture of behaviour" in order to carry those "conventions into an online space." Accordingly, Scratch Online will start softly and evolve: "Anything decent on the internet gets adopted and adapted and appropriated for different purposes. It's almost bound to happen with this," said Jubb. "This isn't going to be for everyone. We're not going to force every artist at BAC to use Scratch Online and loads of artists won't want to go anywhere near it. That's totally fine. It's just another tool."


Web-streamed festival of new short plays opens up development process

From the blog of PlayGround, 8/14/12

On Monday, September 24, PlayGround will live stream in HD [its] inaugural Film Festival on #newplay tv, a knowledge commons project stewarded by Howlround.com and part of the Center for the Theater Commons at Emerson. The Film Festival, a joint project of PlayGround and film company Dances with Light, debuted [with cinema screenings] in May to rave reviews from audiences and artists alike and featured five short films by teams of local filmmakers and writers adapted from past Best of PlayGround short plays as well as short interviews with the screenwriters. During the [live streaming event on Sept 24], audiences can live tweet about their experience and send questions to the filmmakers. "Watch parties" can be organized at http://meetup.com/newplaytv. "It's a testament to the writers and the strength of their original short plays how well these works translated to the screen," commented Film Festival co-producer Barry Stone. Added PlayGround Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann, "We're always working to break down barriers in the development of new writers and new content and are very excited to partner with #newplay tv on this first-of-its-kind free broadcast to bring the work of the Bay Area's best new writers to an (inter)national audience. I'm also looking forward to following the live twitter commentary and reaction at #newplay and #playgroundfilmfest!"


3-year Web project for "open sourced" electronic music launches in Oslo

Kristoffer Lislegaard, Monome.org, 3/7/12

My bandmate and good friend Alex Gunia has started up a gigantic project. He is going to play/arrange 300 concerts of improvised music. Almost all concerts will be free of charge, they will all be streamed live on the internet in 720HD. After the concert is finished, it will be uploaded to YouTube within 24 hours. Everything is also recorded in multi-track. So you get both the master for listening to, and also all the single tracks for exploring, remixing, sampling, whatever you want (not for commercial use). First year is in Oslo, Norway. Then the plan is to go to Berlin/Cologne, Beijing, New York and Tokyo. Here is the description from the website: "300 Acting Spaces is an open public, independent and non-commercial artistic research project. It deals with the installation of especially designed underground performance laboratories for electronic and electro-acoustic music during the years 2012 until 2015. [It] shall mainly be recognized as an open arena for modern musicians, but in addition to that, there will be a constant interdisciplinary exchange with visual artists...[creating] an open source for artists, observers, scientists and the interested general public. The team of independent creative cells and specialists being involved in finding practical solutions, creating artistic meaning and developing theoretical contributions around 300 Acting Spaces is constantly growing. Following the main idea of artistic research and in addition to the artistic outcome, a constant blog during the whole project and personal critical reflections in combination with a specified evaluation process incorporating the audience and the performers will be the basis for a final documentary book."


Museum uses Web to invite community input in developing events, exhibits

Nina Simon, executive director of Santa Cruz [CA] Museum of Art & History on her blog, 3/7/12

Recently, my colleagues have gone wild for Pinterest -- an online sharing tool that allows you to construct virtual bulletin boards to collect and display images from across the web. At our museum, [we are] using Pinterest to develop ideas for upcoming community events. As staff members and interns discover intriguing activities, products, or artwork on the web, individuals can "pin" items of interest to the boards for specific events (i.e. Fire Festival) or program types (Family Programs). This is particularly effective for us since interns and volunteers are significant contributors to our programmatic team and everyone is on different schedules. We can collaborate on Pinterest boards asynchronously, comment on what others add to the boards, and plan events based on the aggregated information. We're starting to use it for the early stages of exhibition planning as well. We're not using Pinterest to do something cool on the Web. We're using it to solve a basic internal communication problem. I used to constantly email links to individual staff members with a message like "we should try this." Pinterest replaces those emails by sharing that content [in] a more broadly usable, indexable way. It aggregates design inspiration in a central place we all can share. And that central place happens to be public. Pinterest allows us -- requires us, really -- to document a part of our creative process openly on the web. As social web tools become more mainstream and privacy concerns lessen (somewhat), I'm seeing more and more organizations use them in informal ways. Project coordination on wikis. Loosely formatted blogs to document progress. There's no extra effort involved to upload or create something special for public consumption. It's just part of the work itself. What that means, potentially, is a lot more capacity to share the HOW behind our work, not just the end result. It's hard to learn from colleagues when everything is completed and spit-polished into a case study or conference session. I learn a lot more from the messy center of projects -- when you know enough to have some goals and direction, but you're still muddling with what the final result will be. At least for me, that's when the juiciest part of the creative process happens.  


'Open source artists' use Web to spread the word

BBC News, 7/16/12

Art galleries are no longer the only venues where painters can display and sell their works. Many are now taking to the web and social media platforms to earn more money and document their creative processes. The BBC's Matt Danzico sat down with New York City artists Borbay and Paul Zepeda to learn how they are using time-lapse video, Facebook and Twitter to tell the world about their works -- and get the world to pay up. [You can watch the video here.]

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