lucy dusgate on ‘a most unusual time to be working in culture’

It has been a most unusual time to be working in culture. The impact of the past year has seen many of us having to adapt to new ways of working, including being innovative on how we keep connected to audiences and artists.

I work part time for The Lowry, as do some of the other members of our Creative Team. All of us bring together a rich knowledge and varied experience. For me personally this past 18 months enabled me to adapt and take on new types of work in the arts. It has also affected how The Lowry operates and this includes a change in how we go forward defining our artistic spaces.

Over the past 18 months, online events and activity have enabled all of us to keep connected to one another. No one is looking to replace the live experience of attending a performance or exhibition in a venue, but within culture we’ve seen some of the benefits and varied methods being harnessed to engage with art through online offers of programme.

Our friends at Northern Ballet and Rambert have created wonderful movement performances for online audiences, and local artists in Greater Manchester like Vicky Clarke and infamous poet Mike Garry alongside Afshan D’souza-Lodhi have all embraced the opportunity to reach out.

Rambert Home Studio

Here at The Lowry we are already commissioning art organisations to produce immersive online content for audiences, including the successful Swamp Motel and Proto-Type Theatre.

Every arts organisation and many artists that I have come into contact with all agree that we can offer this hybrid programme of art, mixing audience experiences between the physically attending a venue or space, and also online attending a cultural activity.

My role is to work with my Creative Team colleagues to re-imagine how we creatively go forward in ways that engage the public with art online. We all have a better understanding now that not everyone has the ability to attend an arts or entertainment venue as and when they choose. Some may have longer term restrictions established long before any mention of a pandemic that limited their ability to attend as easily.

A valuable lesson for all of us is not to take for granted that everyone can participate in the same way, and one that adds to our existing commitment within community settings to support creative communities.

Going forward, we are thinking how to integrate and reshape The Lowry’s online space to sit alongside our other spaces – theatres, galleries and public spaces. This will be an opportunity for us to present artistic activity and experiences that happen online.

Exhibit from our humansbeingdigital exhibition

We are carving out an artistic space for The Lowry online. A space where creative interactions and experiences made with digital interaction as a built in component. They may be podcast, live-streamed performance, commissioned films, interactive App walking trailer, live audio, and ways which we don’t even know about as yet.

As we go forwards The Lowry will aim as always, to bring you excellence within its creative programme – including artistic experiences that reside in the digital space.

Watch this space as they say!

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