April 30, 2019

5G is set to transform arts and culture, and it starts here

By Lucy Ingham

Arts and culture is not an area traditionally associated with technology, but in reality the creative sector can benefit considerably from tech innovation, not least from the rise of 5G.

From large-scale audience interaction in real-time to unprecedented live streaming, 5G has the potential to dramatically enrich arts and culture – in some cases in ways that have still to be developed.

But while the potential is there, there is still considerable work to be done to make it a reality – particularly considering that 5G networks will not be rolled out in the UK until later in 2019.

From a technological perspective, the road to 5G is clear, albeit complicated, with many governmental and technological organisations working to make it a reality. However when it comes to applications, particularly in sectors such as the arts, there is still exploration to be done.

Today, a key plan to further that goal has been announced. Brighton Dome, a key arts venue in the coastal city of Brighton, is to become one of the first cultural venues in the country to be equipped with 5G, in order to make it a testbed for the technology’s use within the arts and culture sector.

Brighton Dome: a testbed for 5G culture applications

The integration of 5G technology in Brighton Dome is being implemented as part of a wider regeneration of the iconic Royal Pavilion Estate in which the venue sits, making it a forward-looking decision.

The testbed is the result of a partnership between Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and digital innovation centre Digital Catapult, which is intended to explore 5G at a time when it will soon become widespread within UK technology infrastructure.

“5G is expected to be rolled out across the UK later this year, but we’re still very much in the black and white television era of this technology. To be in with a chance of entering technicolour, we need to test the network’s capabilities and enable businesses and users to prepare for the opportunity it presents,” explained Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult.

“Brighton is renowned for being a centre of creativity and increasingly technology. It is our mission at Digital Catapult to bring these two worlds together to accelerate innovation in both for the benefit of the UK economy.”

The testbed launch has been timed to coincide with Brighton Festival, which will run at Brighton Dome from 4 – 26 May. And for artists performing at the festival, 5G has the potential to significantly enhance what is possible.

“For artists, 5G has the potential to offer a new set of tools to do things we have always dreamt about or dream up new things we could never have imagined,” said Tristan Sharp, artistic director of dreamthinkspeak, a performance company and associate artist at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival.

“It provides us with new questions to explore and new forms of expression to examine those questions.

“Whether we create large-scale projects with progressive technologies, or intimate pieces on a bare stage in torchlight, 5G will change how our artistic work is made, seen and circulated. It will give artists and audiences a thrilling opportunity to engage with our rapidly changing world.”

Read more: Birmingham New Street becomes first UK station to trial 5G


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