BEYOND 2021 took the theme of place to look at how the Creative Industries are forming the heart of new vibrant cultural and creative economies. The conference is in its 4th year and was a hybrid event that took place both in Belfast and online. We are highly invested in championing creativity and entering the immersive space here in Screen Wexford, so we journeyed up to make some connections and to see what we could learn from their vibrant film & TV industry.

The conference was held in partnership with Future Screens NI and supported by Belfast City Council and Matrix NI. As a delegate, we enjoyed a bespoke programme of activities, with location-based immersive experiences, networking, receptions and lots more. Feeding our curiosities was the depth of research and innovation shared that looked to reimagine, reinvent and reinvigorate place. For Screen Wexford, place, and the marketing of same, is an important part of our remit. We strive not just to put Wexford on the map, but to make it a true production centre and we are examining creative ways to do that.

The absolute stand-out events for us were:

1. Fuelling the Future: How to Build New Place-Based Talent Pipelines

At a time when the UK government is talking about national skills shortages across multiple sectors, is it time for the Creative Industries to take a different track, and time to recognise that skills issues in regional and local creative economies need regional and local solutions? But can place-based talent pipelines be created and nurtured to  successfully fuel growth in regional and local creative economies? How are different places across the UK approaching the question of where we need to get to and how we can get there? Where is this working and who can we learn from?

Dominic Lusardi, Advisor/NED, Digital Thinkers

Emma Turner, Head of Film CPD and Future Skills, ScreenSkills

Frank Lyons MBE, Interim Executive Dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Ulster University

Rachel Nicholson, Head of Institution, Backstage Academy

Rosalind Coleman, Producer, Punchdrunk

You can view the talk online on Beyond’s channel here.

2. Materiality in the Metaverse: Tools to Thrive in the New Spaces of Fashion−

Fashion experts from academia and industry explore the distinctions between the three levels of the new Fashion Metaverse, the opportunities and issues presented by each, and the tools required to support the next generation of designers and fashion entrepreneurs as they navigate these new worlds and markets.

Miss Jade How, Head of Fashion, Lockwood Publishing

Prof Jane Harris, Professor of Digital Design and Innovation, Director of the Fashion, Textiles and Technology Institute (FTTI, UAL), University of the Arts London, London College of Fashion

Dr Mike King, CEO, Numerion Software

Alex Lambert, Creative Director, Happy Finish

Leanne Elliott Young, CEO & Co-Founder, Institute of Digital Fashion

Watch back Materiality and the Metaverse here.

3. Wide Open Spaces: Building Rural Creative Networks

A third of creative business hubs are outside of the UKs big cities, and beyond them lie thousands of small innovators, entrepreneurs, creative practitioners and businesses, many in remote places. Regions where creative economies are dispersed face unique challenges as they grow, but are also ideally placed to reinvent themselves for the digital age, create new jobs, bring investment and provide a unique sense of place and place-making. This panel looks at what is needed if we’re to support and grow the creative economy in these places.

Joanne Evans, Creative Industries Impact and Partnerships and Development Manager, University of Exeter

Dr Karen Cross, Academic Strategic Lead for Fashion Management, Events, Tourism and Hospitality, Robert Gordon University

Emily Sorrell, Innovation Designer

Dr Josh Siepel, PEC Work Strand Lead for Creative Clusters, Innovation and Access to Finance, SPRU, University of Sussex and Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre

Check out Wide Open Spaces: Building Rural Creative Networks here.

4. Altered Places: How Augmented Reality Could Change our Relationships with our Worlds

In this video piece Augmented Reality Product Designer Campbell Orme asks if and how AR can change our relationships with places.

Watch back Altered Places here.

5. Augmenting Places: AR for the People

As the medium becomes more popular, what responsibilities do AR makers have to place – and the communities that live there? Angela Chan, an expert in innovative inclusion in storytelling, talks to leading AR makers to find out how it can be used to open up both places and our imaginations for new encounters with history, our environment and each other – before questioning how we should address the potential issues around accessibility, inclusion and ownership that this opening up of place can unlock.

Angela Chan, Head of Inclusion / Doctoral Researcher, StoryFutures, Royal Holloway, University of London

Rob Morgan, Creative Director, Playlines

Dr Paul Clarke, Senior Lecturer in Performance Studies, Artistic Director, University of Bristol, Uninvited Guests

Nosa Eke, Writer/Director

Check out Augmenting Places: AR for the People here.

6. Belfast Stories: Turning Place 360

Founder of Belfast-based agency Yellow Design, Michael McGlade, explores their work in Belfast and London that is remaking and revealing new aspects of place, past and present, through AR.

Michael McGlade, Creative Director, Yellow Design

Watch Belfast Stories: Turning Place 360 here.

Overall, it was beyond impressive and we can’t wait for next year’s array of talks, immersive experiences and fresh collaborators!

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