Why 3D cinema could be the key to 21st century cultural planning

3d cine


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.

He also talked about the potential for cinemas in a Digital Britain where cinemas, or cultural venues including a cinema, could be showing the 2012 Olympic games, or live screenings of theatre.

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.

  1. For me the mind set change in cinema is more important than the technology change. Stick a digital projector into a cinema that’s managed by a 35mm mindset and you’ve just wasted £65K. And let’s be real about digital cinema, how many mixed arts venues or independents can afford it and what’s going to happen to the cinema landscape in the UK five or ten years from now when digital is the dominant format? If we aren’t careful there will only be multiplexes and a handful of flagship regional venues left. I work with a number of venues whose cinemas are at risk and I know that unless there is a mind set shift in the way they see their venues and audiences as a whole, their cinemas are even more at risk. Yeah I’m sad about that – and frustrated – but then I look around and see some of the new ways of working and ideas and energy bursting out (like Secret Cinema) and I feel really excited about the future of cinema.

  2. Lesley Anne, agree the mindset has to shift across the cultural board, not just cinemas. With convergence, in a community setting as opposed to metro centres, we need to break away from the concept and labels of ‘cinemas’ and ‘arts centres’ and ‘theatres’ and provide neutral, enabling creative hubs where great screenings and other arts activity can happen.

    • And I’m looking at buildings like the Leith theatre and thinking of all the ways the past and the future can work together. The frustration I have is not so much that buildings/organisations have been pigeon holed but also jobs in the arts. You’re either a film programmer, music programmer, visual arts curator and now we have to be all of these things and share our knowledge/contacts/ideas and this is hard for those who have spent so long protecting their territories rather than creating ways to work together. Exciting times. Lots of inspiration and new energy around.

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