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Tuesday 29 January 2019

Mobilising Festival Audiences – a one day BCMCR/STEAMhouse Symposium

Tuesday, 29th Jan, 12-5pm

As part of on-going research into the digital mediation of Jazz and Improvised Music Festivals, the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Studies Research (BCMCR), are inviting organisations in the region to attend a one-day symposium and contribute to the development of new app and content management system for use in the festivals sector.

One of the key aims of this research has been to develop methodological approaches that can produce useful interventions in the emerging field of Festival Studies, whilst also providing solutions for the festivals sector that are able to address issues of sustainability, equality in programming, cultural heritage and place, and environmental management.

This research has so far resulted in two pilot studies at European jazz festivals where the first and second iterations of a mobile application were deployed and tested. The mobile application enables festivalgoers, artists, festival organisers, and other stakeholders, to engage with their surroundings and each other before, during and after events. Alongside acting as digital ‘tool’ for navigating the festival sites and programmes, the app also provides a mechanism for gathering various types of data about user experiences. At this point in their research BCMCR are developing a third iteration of the application, which will be piloted at festivals in the UK and elsewhere in 2019. This symposium is an opportunity to provide feedback on the development of these research technologies so that functions and processes that could be beneficial to festival organisations can be embedded within them.

In addition to the third version of the application, BCMCR also hope to use this symposium to invite feedback and suggestions on the development of a prototype Content Management System (CMS) that will eventually enable festival organisations to design, build and deploy their own versions of the application.  A further element to this suite of tools is currently in the early stages of development. This will draw in third party data (for example, weather and traffic information) along with existing data held by festival organisations (e.g. ticket sales, customer databases, and so on), with the intention that it be combined with real-time data gathered via the mobile application and presented via a series of ‘dashboards’ in later versions of the CMS. Alongside exploring the possibilities of such technologies, the symposium will also engage in conversation on issues related to data privacy, ethics, ownership, storage, and methods of analysis.

The work outlined above will form the basis for the next stages of BCMCR’s research, which will proceed with the aim of eventually releasing Open Source versions of the mobile application and CMS to partner organisations in the festivals sector, whilst simultaneously exploring commercial routes in partnership with STEAMhouse.


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