Laila © Finnish National Opera and Ballet

IMZ ACADEMY R&D SESSION 2020: “Beyond the stage – best practice in digital innovation for opera + ballet”

16 December 2020, online

What does “Good” look like for Digital Creative Projects in the Performing Arts? And what are the criteria for commissioning and delivering them?
This question assumes new urgency in the wake of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on live performance in theatres; as opera and dance companies have to re-assess their approach on how to create and deliver new work to the audience in the future. Up to now the native digital creative project has been an interesting option on the side-lines for most companies and artists, now it’s in the centre of the frame demanding serious and urgent consideration; strategically, creatively and in terms of finance and resource.
This exclusive IMZ Academy Research & Development session brought together creative leaders and digital experts from major opera houses and dance ensembles, including the Finnish National Opera, Royal Opera House, VRHAM! Virtual Reality & Arts Festival and the Scottish Ballet. Together they explored best innovative practices for creating new content beyond the theater stage. Through the exchange of strategies and concrete examples, the panel of experts addressed the main challenges and opportunities in this new and increasingly important area.



Freelance Director + Digital Strategist, IMZ Academy Director

Peter Maniura is an award-winning TV producer and director with more than twenty-five years’ experience in music + arts broadcasting at the BBC and the EBU. He is also a digital media consultant and guest lecturer. His most recent role at the BBC was Project Director, Classical Archive and Orchestras Digital Strategy for BBC Music; opening up the BBC’S unique music archive to the public in new ways. Prior to this he was Head of Digital Development for BBC Arts covering festivals, events and performances across the art forms. He was also commissioner for BBC Arts Online, which he launched in May 2014. Previously he was Creative Director and Curator of the new experimental BBC/Arts Council England digital online arts service “The Space” which launched in May 2012 promoting digital innovation and creativity in the arts.


Artistic Director + Chief Executive of Scottish Ballet

Christopher Hampson joined Scottish Ballet as Artistic Director in 2012 and was appointed Artistic Director + Chief Executive of Scottish Ballet in 2015. He started his choreographic work at the Royal Ballet Schools and continued at the English National Ballet (ENB), where he danced until 1999 and for whom he subsequently created numerous award-winning works. He created productions of Romeo and Juliet (Olivier Award nomination: Best New Production) and Cinderella for the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) both receiving great critical acclaim and toured to major cities in Europe and Asia. Beyond Scottish Ballet, Christopher participated in TEDx Glasgow, giving a talk on ‘Creative Thinking’. He also developed and led the inaugural Young Rural Retreat for Aspiring Leaders, in association with Dance East He also developed and led the inaugural Young Rural Retreat for Aspiring Leaders, in association with Dance East. He is a co-founder of the International Ballet Masterclasses in Prague and has been a guest teacher for many major international companies and his work now forms part of the Solo Seal Award for the Royal Academy of Dance.


Head of Brand, Audience + Digital at Scottish Ballet

Kate Carter oversees Public Communications and Brand Management at the Scottish Ballet, is responsible for achieving sales and audience targets for Scottish Ballet tours, and leads the team producing an innovative range of digital content for broadcast and distribution.


Head of Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House, London

Annette Mees is an award-winning immersive theatre director and artist, working across art forms, mixing live and digital experiences. The Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House in London partners artists, cutting-edge immersive technology and inter-disciplinary creative teams to push artistic boundaries.


Artistic Director of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet

In the past 25 years, Lilli Paasikivi has worked as opera soloist and for the last seven years as the Artistic Director of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. In 2019, Paasikivi launched Opera Beyond – a project which aims to give new, additional tools to opera and ballet.


Project Manager Opera Beyond

As Project Manager Annastina Haapasaari is leading the Finnish National Opera and Ballet’s Opera Beyond project that explores the possibilities of emerging technology for performing arts. Within the project, she’s been working on audience experience and several installation pieces, but also developing the workflows and the overall digital strategy of the organisation.


Initiator + Creative Director of “VRHAM! Virtual Reality & Arts Festival” in Hamburg + XR & Immersive Programmer for the annual BFI London Film Festival

Ulrich Schrauth is Initiator as well as the Creative Director of the “VRHAM! Virtual Reality & Arts Festival” in Hamburg and supervises various international projects within the field of digital media as Creative Director. He is XR & Immersive Programmer for the annual BFI London Film Festival and acts as jury member, among others for the Fedora Digital Art Prize, Laval Virtual/France or the VREFEST Rome/Italy. Ulrich Schrauth is speaker and moderator with the focus on immersive art, for the SXSW Festival Austin/Texas, the Film Festival in Cannes/France or the European Jazz Conference Novara/Italy, just to name a few.




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