Present – A series of discussions on the future of cultural events programming

Present – A series of discussions on the future of cultural events programming

Present is a series of online discussions focusing on the future of cultural events and activities. Covid-19 forced a rapid shift online for the cultural sector. For a variety of reasons, such as an aging population and an increasing emphasis on carbon neutrality in the cultural sector, some of the newly introduced practices may prove to be permanent. Present showcases some of these best practices and tools for creating impactful experiences. These topics are explored by prominent Finnish, British and Irish cultural professionals. The conversations are documented by business illustrator Virpi Oinonen.

Coming up:

30.9. 17:00–18.30 (BST) Together Alone: Artists share experiences from the Finnish Institutes’ virtual open call projects 

14.10. 17.00-18.30 (BST) The future of artist residencies: Sustainable travel, presence and practice

Past events:

16.9. Accessible orchestras: Connecting with audiences beyond the hall

Many traditional classical music enthusiasts have strived to diversify classical music audiences long before the Covid-19 crisis. Now their work is facing a new sense of urgency. What if traditional audiences are unable to come to our venues? Are digital and virtual performances the answer? Can the crisis help us reevaluate our approaches to connecting with audiences, old and new?

Jacqui Cameron, education director at Opera North, Sarah Derbyshire, CEO of Orchestras Live and Annika Kukkonen, education producer at Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra shared their insights on future of audience work.

Here’s a visual summary of the discussion by Virpi Oinonen:

9.9. Expanding live-experiences: The digital future of theatre

This spring the corona pandemic forced theatres and performance venues to close their doors. Little by little venues are opening their doors again, but do audiences dare to come back and is it safe? Are digital and virtual performances the answer? What are we actually talking about when we talk about digital theatre?

Matt Adams from Blast Theory, Amy Letman from Transform, Kris Nelson from LIFT Festival and Maria Oiva from the Finnish #digiteatteri digital theatre collective shared their insights and thoughts on the future of digital in theatre and the performing arts. 

Here’s a visual summary of the discussion by Virpi Oinonen:


2.9. Making your festival virtual: No portaloos needed

This year, many festival organisers have been forced to take their festivals online. How to do this in an exciting and sustainable way?

Last spring Hangö Teaterträff had to quickly take their traditional theatre festival online, and they did it well! Around the same time Lakes International Comic Arts Festival decided that instead of hoping for the Covid-19 statistics to go down, they would build an ambitious digital event for October. DEMO Moving Image Festival is a digital-born festival that took place for the first time this summer.

Heidi Backström from Hangö TeaterträffJulie Tait from Lakes International Comic Arts Festival and Pekka Airaxin from DEMO festival shared their insights on the art of organising online festivals.

Here’s a visual summary of the discussion by Virpi Oinonen:

26.8. How will festival cities survive Covid-19? Lessons from Edinburgh, Galway and Helsinki

Cultural leaders from Helsinki, Edinburgh and Galway gathered on Wednesday 26 August for a discussion on festival cities’ pandemic-proof strategies organised by the Finnish Institute in London. 

Edinburgh and Helsinki are renowned as summertime capitals of culture and Galway, in turn, is the current European Capital of Culture. Unfortunately, the current pandemic has caused most events to be cancelled over the past months. How has the crisis impacted these cities’ identities? How have local communities been taken into account? How do you establish a sense of place in a virtual environment? 

The inaugural edition of the Finnish Institute in London’s Present-series featured panelists Julia Amour, Festivals Edinburgh Director,  Marilyn Gaughan Reddan, Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture’s Head of Programme, and Sanna Forsström, the City of Helsinki’s Head of Events. The event was hosted by the Director of the Finnish Institute, Emilie Gardberg

Here’s a visual summary of the discussion by Virpi Oinonen:



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