5G Creative Explorer
The 5G Creative Explorer programme bought together eight cultural organisations from the UK representing museums, libraries, theatre, dance and outdoor arts sectors, to explore the capability of immersive technologies and test the creative potential of Coventry’s 5G infrastructure. The arts organisations who took part in the programme were: The Belgrade Theatre, Culture Coventry, Imagineer, Motionhouse Dance, Motofest, Open Theatre, Shoot Festival and Talking Birds.
The three-month programme included digital boot camps as well as talks and workshops from internationally renowned artists and developers to upskill and inspire the creative cohort. It provided a small bursary, time and space for artists to prototype their ideas in a supportive, collaborative and innovative environment, with projects exploring the use of extended reality (XR) and artificial intelligence (AI) for participant and audience interaction, virtual content production and performance.
The programme also set the scene for the exciting and innovative creative work that our arts and humanities students and staff will generate, as the Delia Derbyshire complex comes fully operational later in 2023.
The 5G Explorer talks, exploratory workshops and conversational space have allowed for a rich exploration of our inclination as artists to creatively harness these tools for good.Janet Vaughan, Co-Artistic Director, Talking Birds, 2022
Participants were then led through a design sprint and Research and Development (R&D) phase led by Ashley Brown (an artist and technology developer) who was able to support and facilitate their ideas. His approach drew on the kinds of familiar creative processes that the artists taking part were used to, coupled with a more tech-focused design sprint methodology which loosely followed a continued process of ideation, prototyping and testing.
Some of the organisations found this approach very useful and eye-opening, as they were able to imagine new possibilities for both the creative innovations they might be able to achieve, and also how immersive technology would enable them to engage audiences in new ways:
We learned a huge amount about how 5G works and the opportunities it will bring for our organisation once it is widely availableJane Bailey, Communications and Development Director, Motionhouse Dance, 2022
Coventry University’s role in the 5G Creative Explorer programme took on two vital roles:
- To act as an enabler - supplying the artists with access to funding, facilities, technology and technologists that created conditions for them to experiment, learn and collaborate
- A mediator between two worlds - introducing tools and methodologies from the tech sector and demystifying some of the perceptions around immersive and 5G technology. Then, creating links back into this world - showcasing the work of the creatives and their processes to some technology and telecoms companies, and facilitating discussion and exchange between the two communities.
The 5G Creative Explorer was successful as a catalyst programme to introduce new technologies to a group of cultural organisations, and as a pilot for understanding the opportunities and challenges that immersive technology presents. It served to demonstrate the need for much greater and more ambitious programmes of this nature that could better provide the level of time, scale and access that could really make an impact.
A strong theme that came through was the need for more of a creative technology community or ecosystem within the cultural sectors. Enabling conditions for creative exchange, experimentation, risk-taking and failure, as well as creating a sense of community among creatives interested in the technology, could enable artists to have greater freedom and autonomy within their work which might in turn, might lead to the next big innovation!
The arts open our minds to the core of what it means to be human: spawning difficult conversations, making people laugh, inspiring others and laying bare the highs and lows of other people’s lived experiences, however the arts manifest themselves in our lives, they help us make sense our environment, ourselves and each other.
Coventry University’s 5G Creative Explorer project, places some of the region’s most exciting and originative arts and cultural organisations at the forefront of the kind of technological advances, that will transfigure and innovate the sector for years to come.