As much of our cultural life moves online, and our connections become virtually borderless, this brings with it the opportunity to reach build more inclusive communities. One of the guiding principles of the Network Music Festival is to aim to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. This feeds through in our funding model (free to view; Pay What You Can donations going directly to artists), the platforms we use to deliver the festival content (which prioritise open source, encrypted and transparent softwares wherever possible), and our programming.
Our OPEN CALL encouraged submissions from those who are exploring network technology for music making for the first time this year and we’re happy to programme these performances alongside more established acts in the field. We’re running a 24 hour programme in order to be accessible to all time zones, and based our scheduling on performer availability.
All of our concert events will include a Q&A session with artists where audiences can ask about the technologies and artistic ideas behind the works, and an audience chat channel will be open through out for sharing thoughts and ideas. We programmed some beginner level workshops for newcomers to get hands-on with the technology, alongside those aimed at existing practitioners.
Through these measures we hope to help build a diverse, inclusive and expansive community of network music makers and audiences. Our theme of Communities Near and Far is centring these ideas throughout the festival.
On the first day of the festival we are also running two sessions which focus on accessibility:
We’re extremely excited to be hosting a performance-workshop event with the UpStage team. UpStage has been running events in an online audio-visual venue since 2004. The project is is a female-led team and works on principles of building diversity and inclusion into all aspects of the project. The platform is built to be accessible to all:
Accessibility has been central to the project from the very beginning: we set out to create a platform that could be accessed by anyone with a basic internet connection, basic computer, and basic computer literacy, anywhere in the world. We achieved this, and now we’re working to make it accessible via mobile devices as well, reaching out to communities and geographical locations where mobile phones are more affordable than computers as well as to young people who are growing up with mobile devices. (https://upstage.org.nz/?page_id=8361)
In the UpStage session a performance of their new work Jeux de Massacre will be followed by an interactive workshop with the team introducing the platform and it’s features and discussing the future directions of the platform as they move into a new development phase.
This session will take place 1100-1300 (GMT+1), Wednesday 15th July.
Following that event at 1400-1600 (GMT+1) we have a panel discussion moderated by academic Miriam Iowerth on Accessibility and Network Music Performance.
The panel will features performers and participants in the Network Music Festival and experts in the fields of network music and accessibility: Marlo de Lara, Kofi Oduro, Jilliene Sellner and Amble Skuse. The panellists bring diverse perspectives on accessibility and will discuss the perceived accessibility of network music making, the barriers that may prevent participation, and practical steps that can help in building a diverse and inclusive community.