We glimpsed a vision for the future of 21st century cultural venues today with 3D screening being the key. Lord Puttnam’s keynote speech at the Edinburgh International Film Festival this morning was inspirational on many fronts. He talked about the power of films to change the world, for film makers to show leadership in tackling issues from climate change to democracy, and about the essential role of educators in media literacy. And described the action Singapore is taking as part of its competitive creative economy policy which is “20 times more ambitious” than the UK in broadband width and focussed competitive activity.
This could the key to 21st century cultural planning or, as someone said in the audience today, “Is 3d cinema the new talkies?”.
We currently have a mess of a cultural infrastructure, particularly in the towns of the UK as opposed to the cities. We have multiplex cinemas, largely soul-less; we have town halls and civic theatres and the occasional arts centre. Anything that is designated a theatre is the subject of a note of conservation interest from the Theatres Trust.
Currently the block in our thinking about change is how we think about theatre. Theatre is a an artistic event and communal experience which currently can only happen in a room, with actors enacting a drama in a room. This is expensive and exclusive. 3d live screenings of theatrical events could fundamentally disrupt the business model. The live performance could be enjoined by many through live 3D screenings.
What we need in towns are creative hubs. Neutral, enabling spaces where we can participate in excellent creative events and discourse. Digital technology and 3 d cinema is the key to defining how these venues should work. We need leadership in this creative and cultural planning. In Scotland, Creative Scotland, which will be the public body inheriting both arts and screen agencies as well as creative industries, is in a prime position to do this.