There are occasions in the arts where digital is seen to be a good replacement for live performance. Live broadcasts being one. Can you replicate reality via a screen? I have a feeling the jury might be out for a long while on that one. There are occasions however when digital can undertake processes not available otherwise. For example, a podcast set up to discuss mental health for people working in the creative industries is now offering free one-to-one counselling sessions over Skype. The “Industry Minds” podcast was set up by actors Scarlett Maltman and Cathy Read in September last year with the aim of opening up the conversation around mental health in the arts.

According to The Stage newspaper “Maltman and Read wanted to organise the counselling sessions after “reading about multiple suicides in the arts and surrounding industries” and realising that there is not much affordable help available to people who are struggling”. The free Skype or telephone sessions are available to all creatives studying or working in the arts, including actors, musicians, designers and choreographers.

Another digital innovation sees 6 of the largest drama schools and conservatoires in the country joining forces on a pioneering digital project to enable real-time collaboration to “push the boundaries of performing arts training”.

London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, the Central School of Ballet and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) are among the institutions that have signed up to the four-year project, ‘Virtual Conservatoire’. This will see them transform their facilities into “state of the art digital spaces”, allowing real-time collaboration between students and partners in multiple locations.

Support for the consortium, which also includes the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music, has been secured from the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Office for Students Catalyst Fund. The project says the result is a “new template” for conservatoire training, which offers digitally-enabled teaching and the ability to create live performance art across different locations and whereas the concept is not new the idea of using it for training certainly is..

Is digital the future of the arts? Again, in an industry based on personal interaction, empathy and acting in real time I have a feeling the same jury is still out. But as with complementary medicine, as long as digital is complementary and not seen as a replacement, live and digital should have a good future together in the arts….


Image credit – Chris Christodoulou c/o The Stage publication.


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