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Yesterday 22 January 2020 the Pilot edition of Digital (R)Evolution kicked off in Antwerp, Belgium

Yesterday 22 January 2020 the pilot edition of Digital (R)Evolution kicked off in Antwerp, Belgium. This is a new training programme on digital tools and new technologies organized in partnership with deSingel International Arts Campus and part of the project entitled ‘Act for Global Change: A Global Conversation from the Arts to the World’ (ACT) supported by Creative Europe.

Participants and experts were welcomed by Mike van Graan (Founding President African Cultural Policy Network) who co-developed the programme and facilitates it , Inge Ceustermans - General Director The Festival Academy and Jerry Aerts - General Manager and Artistic Director deSingel International Arts Campus. The welcome was followed by some inspirational and educative screenings of digital technology and its use in the arts and culture sector by Katrijn De Wit - Coordinator Press & Audience development deSingel International Arts Campus, Mike Verledens – Sparklink.

Artist and choreographer Arkadi Zaides, introduced us to a haunting digital experience presenting his work Necropolis. Starting from the deaths of refugees and migrants who have attempted to reach Europe since 1993, Necropolis applies the use of forensics and new technological tools to document and raise awareness about the victims of the current migration crisis at the gates of Europe.

“This growing archive, this map, this site named NECROPOLIS is stretching in all directions across space and time, interrelating the mythologies, histories, geographies, movements, and anatomies of those who have been granted entrance to the city of the dead.”  - Arkadi Zaides.

The tone for the 4 days was set by Keith Nurse’s keynote speech ‘Disrupt. Dispose. Discover. Digital Technology and its real and potential impact on art and festival-making.’  Keith Nurse is Principal/President of Sir Arthur Lewis Community College Morne Fortune, St. Lucia and Unesco Expert. 

Carnivals and Festivals are disruptive in their essence, as they disrupt the everyday and they start from critique and social protest against the establishment. This process of disrupting is challenged and facilitated at the same time by digitalization. It is challenged because digitalization entails creating a process of narrowcasting. The democratic debate is limited within a certain group of people. On the other hand, new technologies open up a space of critique, debates and new experiences. Digitalization and ‘festivalization’ are intertwined. It is a matter of finding a good balance between exploiting the power of these technological tools as well as mitigating their negative effects.” - Keith Nurse.

In the next days, participants, mentors and guest speakers from across the globe will exchange their experiences and inspire each other concerning the topic of digitization related to the festivals world, audience development, diversity, inclusion, freedom of expression and movement, the future generations of artists and the need for a sustainable, growing and impactful communities. Festival managers from The Festival Academy alumni network, such as Valentina Corona (Director Playwave) and Nicolas Klimis (Founder Ohme) and Grayson Wambach (Creator and producer) who are piloting new projects related to new technologies, are experts during the 4 days. Experts from social movements, such as Cathrine Helland (ICORN) and Manon Muti (Peace and Justice), will contribute to the debate talking about digital tools related to human rights as well as on how the internet works and on how to make use of it in a secure way.

“With this programme The Festival Academy builds a new network focused on digital and festivals . We aim to generate awareness of the challenges, opportunities and the risks related to digital tools, social media, data collection, new technologies, artificial intelligence and the like. We will question how to use these tools and we are specifically interested in the narratives that can be shared with people and communities through these tools. The overarching questions is:  as citizens, and art and festival managers, which space can we occupy with our festivals as well as through digital platforms to contribute to a more humane, transparent and tolerant society?” - Inge Ceustermans.

The results of the training will be shared with a broad festival community, to continue the dialogue and to share new pilot projects that are currently being created. This also in the perspective of a second edition in 2021.