Edinburgh 2050: Hi-tech future will take city festivals to another stage

Karl Chapman hopes that the Capital's venues will embrace emerging developments in arts and culture to keep breaking new ground

Wednesday, 12th December 2018, 4:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th December 2018, 5:00 pm
Karl Chapman, 51, cultural venues manager (based in Usher Hall) for City of Edinburgh Council.

Attracting hundreds of thousands of people globally, it is an amazing cultural and economic driver. Edinburgh is rightfully proud to be at the forefront of this.

By 2050, I would like to see expansion in the choice of music and entertainment locations. I think we need to ensure the city continues to have the music venues it requires to attract the world’s biggest artists and keep them coming back. This isn’t just about the size of venues and coping with demand, it’s about finding new ways of experiencing arts and performance, and putting the audience at the heart of it.

As such an important beacon of culture, it’s important that we ensure we are prepared for the future, as technological advances may change how people consume the arts.

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Music is always innovating, with producers constantly embracing new technology and breaking new ground. Yet in a grand sense, venues and theatres haven’t changed much in a few thousand years. Today’s venues follow much the same layout of the amphitheatres of ancient Greece: there’s a stage for the performance, and space for the audience. The human demand for the performance arts has always been there.

I’m sure that by 2050, that demand for music will remain. But I want venues to embrace new technologies and keep things fresh, just like music producers. We’re on the cusp of a technological revolution which could take performance to new levels, finding new ways to not only engage and thrill the audience but to involve them and maximise the enjoyment of their experience.

In the US, we have already seen posthumous holographic performances from artists such as Michael Jackson and Tupac. I feel that we’ll soon be seeing new developments in alternative reality technology, which could really take performances to new heights.

I want Edinburgh venues to embrace this technology so that by 2050 the city offers the best audience experiences in the world – where the attendees feel like they are part of the show – cementing Edinburgh’s place at the forefront of culture and the arts.

I feel motivated and energised by the 2050 Edinburgh City Vision campaign and love that there’s an opportunity for the public’s ideas to be brought together. The pooling of visions means we should see some creative ideas for the future and I’m excited to see the result. It’s great to see views similar to my own coming through on the campaign’s word cloud, showing there is clearly a public appetite for venues to embrace more innovative live music performances.

I hope it will show demand for a more inclusive Edinburgh, where we look to spread the economic benefit of all the good things the city has to offer on our way to eradicating poverty and promoting equality. The final 2050 City Vision will give us all something to work towards collectively, delivering the wishes of the people. I’m excited to see the results as it will really make me think about what I can do to make sure the City Vision is achieved. So, it’s important that everyone gets involved now, to make sure they help shape how that final vision will look.

It’s quick and easy to take part and have your say at www.edinburgh2050.com

Karl Chapman, 51, cultural venues manager (based in Usher Hall) for City of Edinburgh Council.