The British Council
s Edinburgh Showcase 2011 (ES2011) will use digital media to give some of the UKs most innovative performing artists an unprecedented global platform. The Showcase will take place from 22 27 August, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The event is a biennial platform of outstanding UK performance, designed to find opportunities for British artists to tour overseas. This builds new relationships and opens up new markets for the UKs performing arts sector. This year the showcase will embrace the best of digital innovation, reaching a wider audience through a new website and an app for the iPhone and iPad.
The website invites users to explore the 27 showcase artists and view video trailers from each of the productions, as well as read blogs and engage through social media. This will mean that international promoters and producers not in Edinburgh will have the opportunity to explore innovative work from the UK, which creates even greater possibilities for the performers to take their work overseas. For the first time ever the website will be public-facing, allowing all visitors to the festival access to the content.
The iPhone and iPad app will work in two phases: initially providing a guide to the showcase, including specially commissioned content about the artists, as well as the @Edshowcase Twitter feed. The app is available to download for free from the iTunes store and is intended for both general audiences and delegates. Phase two will use GPS-tracking to follow the ES2011 artists as they tour internationally and allow the audience to feed their comments and reviews on the productions directly through the app. The line-up for this years showcase features leading producing houses such as Traverse Theatre and Oxford Playhouse, and established artists including Tim Crouch and Blast Theory alongside younger companies such as Lundahl & Seitl and Idle Motion.
Thanks to a new partnership with Arts Council England, a professionally-made promotional video trailer has been created for each of the participating acts, providing them with a valuable tool to promote their work. Each video will be jointly owned by the artist and the British Council, and will include an interview with the artists, along with curated archive footage. These videos will be embedded on the showcase website and promoted through the British Council website and social media channels in the run-up to the showcase. They will be available for any user online to share. The British Council currently has 70,000 Facebook fans and 17,000 followers on Twitter and these online communities are growing fast.
The programme of events at the showcase includes a panel discussion on the use of digital media in the arts. Panellists include Toby Coffey (National Theatre), Robert Delamere (Digital Theatre), Dick Penny MBE (Watershed) and other contributing speakers include John McGrath (National Theatre Wales) and Hannah Rudman (GetAmbition).The event will be webcast and available to watch worldwide on the showcase website. There will also be a 60-minute screening and Q & A of the Theatre Sandbox project during the week.
Brendan Griggs, Head of Drama and Dance at the British Council, said: The digital elements of this years showcase break new ground by giving some of the UKs most innovative performing artists a global platform like never before. Furthermore, they will provide visitors to the festival with a deeper understanding of the programme that we have curated, offering more ways of engaging with the artists and their work.
Barbara Matthews, Director, Theatre, Arts Council England, said: Enabling artists and arts organisations to make the most of digital technology and the opportunities it presents is a key ambition for the Arts Council and so it is extremely valuable for us to work with the British Council on this project. We are delighted that companies have been given support to reach international markets digitally and that projects we have funded will be featuring strongly.
Mark Ball, Artistic Director LIFT, said: Artists and performing arts organisations are individually and collectively working through a period of great creativity as they respond to the changing role of digital in our world. This clear digital strategy for the Edinburgh Showcase 2011 shows how the British Council has a great understanding of the needs of the international performing arts sector. I hope these innovative initiatives will be of great benefit to both the participating artists and delegates of ES2011.
John McGrath, Artistic Director, National Theatre Wales, said: 'I'm delighted that the British Council is developing such an ambitious digital strand as part of its Edinburgh showcase this year. The ways in which we tour and present performing arts are being transformed by digital technologies, and as the leading showcase of UK work, it is very important that the British Council's programme reflects this. Through digital engagement, international exchanges can be deeper, more environmentally sustainable, and full of new artistic possibilities.