A Musical Renaissance? #DigitalLab
Ruth Hopkins, Director, K'antu Ensemble seizes the opportunity to explore new ways of working online as part of her Fellowship at Digital Lab.
With the Covid-19 Pandemic, the future of the arts sector is unclear. As Artistic Director of K’antu Ensemble, our domestic and international concert programme has been put on hold. Whilst many people are hoping that we can just press pause until things go back to normal, I fear this may be short sighted. Humans are incredibly adaptable and Covid-19 has created an imperative for people to engage more fully with the wealth of digital tools and platforms that have been developed over recent years.
Instead of pausing, we have been propelled forward several years ahead of our previous digital trajectory. If we were to rewind, we would inevitably be viewing our original plans with fresh eyes influenced by these digital developments.
As a historical music ensemble, our artistic output focuses on live performances and outreach programmes. Indeed, the prospect of ongoing social distancing rules makes our original methodology untenable for the foreseeable future.
Over lockdown we have spent much time thinking about our role in a socially distanced society, where digital is central to dissemination, engagement and interaction. The Arts Marketing Association’s Digital Lab, is therefore a timely opportunity to experiment with new approaches to engaging with our audiences as the world around us is changing.
The first month of the Digital Lab has already sparked numerous ideas about how I can integrate digital elements into our creative practice and develop new initiatives.
Just last week, we started delivering a series of interactive music workshops and CPD sessions for SEND pupils with visual impairments (VI) and their teachers using Zoom video conferencing. Moving from face-to-face to online delivery posed numerous complications before the added challenge of delivering the sessions “blind”. Due to safeguarding, the school had to keep their cameras switched off throughout the sessions.
What might seem an impossible task to some became an opportunity to create new ways of working and the results were incredible.
Delivering sessions “blind” firstly gave an insight into some of the issues experienced by our VI participants during music sessions and highlighted the necessity for clear signposting of activities. The success of the sessions was dependant on full engagement of the staff and strong communication. Everyone rose to the challenge. As a result, the staff were empowered to take the lead more within the sessions and benefited more fully from the training.
This experience has transformed the way I will facilitate sessions when we return to face-to-face delivery and has inspired me to be more experimental with digital formats.
My sessions with my mentor Seb Chan and the AMA webinar on Facebook Ads has influenced my forthcoming plans. We will now deliver our next outreach programme in Bangladesh remotely over Zoom. In addition to live interactive sessions, we are planning to create publicity videos and an accompanying Facebook campaign. In the meantime, I am taking the opportunity to develop a series of experiments using the Facebook Ads features to ascertain the best ways to communicate with our audiences and optimise our digital reach.
Ruth Hopkins, Director, K'antu Ensemble
Ruth Hopkins is a historical music performer and consultant. As director of K’antu Ensemble, she performs extensively and leads music workshops for SEND settings. Recent partners include the British Council, National Trust, The Firs (Elgar Birthplace Museum), BANFF Centre (Canada), CHILD Foundation (Bangladesh), Craiova International Shakespeare Festival (Romania), Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Egypt), Liszt Academy Museum and Mediaeval University of Pécs (Hungary).