A two-day symposium exploring the future of arts, culture, and technology in Australia – and the mindsets, capabilities and skills we need to get there.
This program is aimed at cultural leaders, policy makers, practitioners and those wanting to understand how we make the most of the possible future trajectories of technology in the arts.
You will hear from artists and creators, senior cultural leaders, experienced creative technologists, academics and researchers from across the arts in a mix of presentation formats and panel discussions.
Hosted at ACMI, this symposium draws on the success of the multi-art form CEO Digital Mentoring program which ran throughout 2021 and 2022, and asks how those lessons might benefit the whole of the arts and culture.
Current speakers include:
- Jane Finnis (Director, Culture24, UK)
- Victoria Ivanova (R&D Strategic Lead, Serpentine Galleries, UK)
- Sam Lavigne (artist & educator, USA)
- Tega Brain (artist & environmental engineer, USA)
- Mimi Ọnụọha (artist, USA)
- Liam Young (designer, director, producer, USA)
- Cory Doctorow (science fiction author, activist and journalist, Canada)
- Professor Rebecca Giblin (ARC Future Fellow, Professor at Melbourne Law School, and the Director of the Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia)
- Esther Anatolitis (Editor of Meanjin, arts advocate)
- Professor Larissa Hjorth (School of Media & Communication, RMIT)
- Professor Dan Hill (Director, Melbourne School of Design, University of Melbourne)
- Professor Jean Burgess, Professor of Digital Media, Digital Media Research Centre, QUT
- Dr Indigo Holcombe-James (ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society, RMIT)
- Anne Dunn (Executive Director, Sydney Theatre Company)
- Kath Mainland (Chief Executive, Adelaide Festival)
- Tim Stitz (Executive Producer & Co-CEO, Back to Back Theatre)
- Katrina Sedgwick (Director & CEO at Melbourne Arts Precinct Corporation)
- Joel Sherwood Spring (independent artist)
- Seb Chan (Director & CEO, ACMI)
- Keri Elmsly (Executive Director of Programming, ACMI)
- Lucie Paterson (Head of Experience Product & Digital, ACMI)
- Dr Sarah Barns (independent artist-researcher, ESEM Projects)
- Paul Callaghan (Head of Games & Interactive, VicScreen)
- Jamie Lewis (CEO/Executive Director, Next Wave Festival)
- Ana Tiquia (artist, future strategist & Director, All Tomorrow's Futures)
- Stuart Buchanan (Head of Digital Programming, Sydney Opera House)
- Paula Bray (Head of Digital Engagement & Insight, Australian National Maritime Museum)
- Morgan Strong (Digital Transformation Manager, QAGOMA)
- Teina Herzer (Executive Director, National Digital Forum, NZ)
- Claire Evans (Director, Junior Major)
- Dr Bobby Cerini (Deputy Director and General Manager of Science and Learning, Questacon)
- Dr Keir Winesmith (Chief Digital Officer, National Film and Sound Archive)
- Penny Whitehead (Deputy Director Development and Commercial Operations, Geelong Gallery)
- Sejul Malde (Strategic Research Development Manager, Australian National University)
- Fiona Tuomy (Artistic Director, The Other Film Festival & Manager, Digital Innovation, Arts Access Victoria)
Many more speakers and full program to be announced soon.
Day 1 closes with an add-on public event with Cory Doctorow (CA), Rebecca Giblin and Esther Anatolitis in conversation. Tickets for this are purchased separately with a discount. Day two closes with a reception at ACCA and a viewing of the Data Relations exhibition.
Tuesday February 14
9am Welcome to country
9.10–9.15am Introduction to the symposium hosted by Lucie Paterson, Head of Experience Product & Digital, ACMI
9.15–10.15am Current technological capabilities in arts & culture: the Australian state of play
ACMI’s CEO Digital Mentoring program run over 2021-–22 reveals a picture of digital and technological capability and opportunity across the arts and cultural sector emerging from the pandemic. RMIT researcher Dr Indigo Holcombe-James will discuss the findings from her multi-year research into the program and extensive interviews with the participants throughout. She will be joined by program founder and ACMI’s Director and CEO, Seb Chan for a conversation about where the sector now finds itself. Holcombe-James’ report will be publicly launched online during the session.
10.15–11.15am Current digital literacies and capabilities in arts & culture: the UK/European/US state of play
The development of digital literacies and confidence in the cultural sector has been the focus of the UK’s Culture24 for almost two decades. Culture24’s CEO Jane Finnis joins us to talk through what Australia might learn from the work done with cultural institutions in the UK, across Europe with Europeana, as well as in Canada and the US.
11.15–11.45am Coffee break
11.45am – 12.45pm A changing world: technologies and performance
This panel discussion explores how technology has been transforming the performing arts from venues, festivals, how and where audiences watch, and the productions themselves. Hear from Stuart Buchanan, head of digital at the Sydney Opera House, Anne Dunn Executive Director Sydney Theatre Company, Jamie Lewis CEO/Executive Director, Next Wave Festival, and Kath Mainland Chief Executive of Adelaide Festival.
1.45–2.45pm A changing world: archival machine politics
Digitisation has opened up archives and archival practices to new scrutiny at the same time as machine learning and artificial intelligence has created new means for navigating and repurposing their contents. Nigerian-American artist Mimi Ọnụọha and Wiradjuri artist Joel Sherwood Spring, both working with archival absences, representation and the materiality of digital technologies join a conversation with artist and researcher Dr Sarah Barns.
2.45–3.45pm Process change: adapting and adopting new models
Building on the two preceding talks, this session explores how arts organisations are seizing new technological opportunities and how they are changing their operational models to co-create and collaborate with others. Paula Bray Head of Digital Engagement & Insight, Australian National Maritime Museum draws on her work running creative R&D labs within museums and libraries; Back to Back Theatre's executive producer & co-CEO Tim Stitz has helped create and lead multi-award winning cross-disciplinary theatre and screen productions, and Junior Major's Director Claire Evans brings decades of experience in creative production with media and technologies to the discussion.
3.45–4pm Coffee break
4–5pm Financing the future
How might our sectors fund the type of R&D, strategic innovation, and investment in infrastructure that we need to produce and present creative work that is so reliant upon digital technologies and technology platforms? The Australia Council's Director of Industry Initiatives, Adam McGowan, Serpentine R&D Labs' Victoria Ivanova, and Paul Callaghan, Head of Games & Interactive at VicScreen join a discussion about what we might learn from adjacent fields and approaches.
5pm–6pm Curator led tour of ACMI's How I See It: Blak Art & Film exhibition
As creative labour has been reclassified and flattened as 'content' and technology platforms have further controlled the flow of revenue in the creative industries, artists, creators, cultural institutions, policy makers and philanthropists have been playing catch up. In this spicy in-person conversation, led by arts advocate Esther Anatolitis, Cory Doctorow and Rebecca Giblin will take you on a journey through this 21st century creative landscape which has now been designed to separate creative laborers from the value they create at every possible point.
Wednesday February 15
9–9.15am Welcome hosted by Dr Indigo Holcombe-James, ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society, RMIT
9.15–10.15am Strategic change: future art and creative ecosystems
Victoria Ivanova from Serpentine Galleries' R&D Labs will talk about her three year of work researching and writing the trilogy of Future Art Ecosystems reports. These reports cross artform and practice boundaries and are aimed at creating a common language for artists, technologists, and institutions so that they can find ways to work together.
10.15–11.15am A Changing World: computational creativity
This panel explores the work of artists and creators using new technologies and methods in their works, exploring new forms of computational creativity, and how the form, process, and nature of all creative practices is rapidly changing. Multi-disciplinary artists Liam Young, Sam Lavigne and Tega Brain join ACMI’s executive director of programming Keri Elmsly in a conversation.
11.15–11.30am coffee break
11.30am – 12.30pm Process change: new audiences new needs
The pandemic opened up access to new audiences for arts and culture and has forever changed how and when our publics choose to engage with various artforms. This panel will explore how organisations are responding and new forms of research that needs to be undertaken to understand the lives of our communities. Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth joins ACMI’s head of experience, product and digital, Lucie Paterson, and Fiona Tuomy, Artistic Director of The Other Film Festival & Manager, Digital Innovation, Arts Access Victoria to discuss paths forward in design, research and inclusive practice.
13.30–2.30pm Process change: transitioning to strategy
Finding time and space for digital and technology strategic initiatives is challenging especially for small-medium organisations. QAGOMA’s Manager of Digital Transformation Morgan Strong, AMaGA’s National Director Katie Russell, and independent curator and researcher Ana Tiquia discuss how their organisations and experiences might assist others in navigating this practical reality.
2.30–3.30pm Process change: transforming practice
Networked technologies and digital practices continue to reshape organisational processes. In this session Dr Keir Winesmith, Chief Digital Officer NFSA; Dr Bobby Cerini Deputy Director and General Manager of Science and Learning, Questacon; Penny Whitehead Deputy Director Development and Commercial Operations at Geelong Gallery; and Sejul Malde Strategic Research Development Manager, Australian National University discuss how their institutions are changing, how new practices are being implemented, and the new ways of collaborating that are required.
3.30pm–4.30pm A Changing World: future cities, civic and technological infrastructure, creative practices
Professor Jean Burgess (QUT), Professor Dan Hill (University of Melbourne), Katrina Sedgwick (Director & CEO at Melbourne Arts Precinct Corporation) and guests join a wide-ranging discussion about how new creative practices are emerging, utilising new technologies and civic infrastructure across cities in the Indo-Pacific region. In this decade, as climate effects grow and the models of State, private and VC investment in technologies shift, how might arts and culture be affected?
4.30–5.30pm Where to next?
This final session poses the question of where we go next - and how might we get there. Dr Indigo Holcombe-James and Seb Chan are joined by Culture24's Jane Finnis and New Zealand's National Digital Forum Executive Director Teina Herzer to recap and chart a journey onwards.
6–8pm Networking drinks and Data Relations exhibition viewing at ACCA
This symposium is the final component of ACMI's CEO Digital Mentoring program.
Mimi Ọnụọha, Sam Lavigne & Tega Brain appear thanks to the generosity of ACCA. Jane Finnis & Victoria Ivanova appearance is generously supported by the British Council.
14 & 15 Feb 2023