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How are the arts, cultural and broadcast industries surviving during the pandemic?

Posted by Shaan Sidhu on 16th February 2021

I was talking with my colleagues recently about things that interested me lately — the arts, broadcast and culture. The topic swiftly progressed onto how in-person events are progressing this year with no end in sight to the current lockdown situation and what tech facilitated these events to go ahead.

Paula mentioned the Royal Shakespeare Company’s latest announcement of incorporating virtual reality (VR) and motion capture tech into their shows. I found topic quite enlightening, and decided to write about some of the global events going on in the world right now across creative industries and how they’ve managed to persevere through the ongoing pandemic.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s ‘Dream’

Based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this stage production originally scheduled to go ahead at the beginning of spring will now be virtual —       in the surroundings of a forest where motion sensors allow actors to interact with their surroundings as well as their audience from home.

Motion sensor technology and an interactive score that responds to the movements made by on-stage actors has changed the game for theatre productions happening during the pandemic.

According to the BBC, the show will be streamed online and the audience will be able to directly influence the performance from home.

Balenciaga’s AW21 show

Balenciaga’s AW21 presentation was a delicious mix of good PR, fashion and tech, a VR experience that I’m sure was no easy task to put together successfully.

VR company Oculus’s headsets were used for the presentation, within PR boxes that included a black tee embossed with a QR code to access the show, featuring Balenciaga’s nonchalant white logo, which was distributed to 330 guests around the world.

A multi-faceted digital experience, Vogue UK reported that the show’s technology was so advanced that you could actually turn to the people around you and study their body language and wardrobe (although this audience was fictional, consisting of made-up editors, buyers and Justin Bieber).

While Balenciaga took things a step further with their Oculus collaboration, the fashion industry still isn’t slowing down. We’re in the midst of the first ever fully digital fashion week, and major shows are still going ahead in lieu of an audience, instead focusing their offerings online.

BlackPink’s ‘The Show’ virtual livestreamed concert

With global touring currently not a possibility, global k-pop band BlackPink held a huge virtual livestreamed concert on YouTube. While this isn’t a particularly new thing, (One Love Manchester in 2017 was one of the most successful live-streamed concerts on YouTube), I was shocked when I discovered how profitable online concerts can be. The earnings made can even rival in-person shows.

Charging around £30 a ticket for the two-hour special, BlackPink’s concert raked in 280,000 paying members, which amounts to an incredible earning for the band for one virtual stage. The Philippines had the most paying members, after the US and Thailand. It’s predicted that the concert made earnings of 11.7 billion Korean won, which equates to about £7.6 million.

UK artist Dua Lipa recently staged a successful livestreamed concert from the UK too. It will be interesting to see how artists tailor their offerings for this new market and what streaming providers may jump on the bandwagon.

While we’re still in the midst of the pandemic, it brings me joy that such industries are finding ways to navigate and connect with people around the world. I’m personally so excited for all of this to be over, but will be keeping a keen eye on the developments of virtual events so I don’t feel so out of the loop and isolated from my favourite things.

Shaan Sidhu

Shaan combines his ability to build relationships with his creative flair to bring every PR campaign to life with the influencers that matter. It’s not all about tech for Shaan, though, as he also pursues a passion for fashion, modelling and politics. He’s also worked on the set of Netflix’s The Crown.