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Fostering creative digital innovation at NIDA

NIDA CEO Liz Hughes joined an industry panel, Arts Going Digital, held by the Australia Council for the Arts, to discuss how artists and cultural organisations are engaging audiences through digital channels.

Alongside NIDA’s continued engagement with a broad range of performance platforms, traditional screen and stage platforms, Liz shared how NIDA was fostering a culture of emerging technology experimentation.

Lunacy – NIDA 2020 Digital Theatre Festival

Above: Lunacy, directed by Pierce Wilcox, in NIDA's Digital Theatre Festival, 2020.

‘Last year when the pandemic hit, we had the option to postpone our much-anticipated June Production Season, or to take the opportunity that the pandemic created and really imagine what we could create at NIDA with our collective learning.

‘We decided we needed to create new works, produced on and for digital platforms, and to engage with leading artists who were up for the challenge of going on an an uncharted journey with us.’

NIDA’s Digital Theatre Festival in 2020 was a season of six world premieres created specifically for the online digital space and entirely for an online audience. Many of the works were transmedia or interactive in nature, using multiple platforms to interact with audiences in a new and inventive way – Instagram, YouTube, Zoom, Twitch, Vimeo and more.

The Festival featured six international and national guest directors – Emmy Award-winning Sean Stewart, legendary Sydney Olympic ceremonies director Nigel Jamieson, former CalArts resident director Katy Alexander, former Associate Director of Melbourne and Queensland Theatre Companies Leticia Cáceres, Artistic Director of Crack X Pierce Wilcox, and Australia Council New Media Arts Fellow Deborah Pollard.

Audiences tuned in from across Australia, as well as the USA, UK, New Zealand, China, Japan, Singapore, and many parts of the Middle East and Europe. The festival was covered internationally by Forbes, The Guardian, No Proscenium , Broadway World and broadly in Australian media – with coverage syndicated nationally across Fairfax media and a visit from ABC TV to speak to the students.

‘The innate training and expertise that performance makers have, which include improvisation, connecting with audiences and the ability to put a show on the road and just make stuff happen – these core skillsets were really exciting to unleash and explore in digital platforms.’

‘At the moment in support of this, we’ve got a number of what I’m calling ‘emerging technology experiments’ going on. From experimenting with motion capture in a dance work to using Unreal Engine for screen content, these experiments give staff and students permission to create new work and unleash their core skillsets in new and emerging media.

‘Of course, we still want to do live performances with face-to-face engagement, but we want to ensure we’re providing opportunities for students to engage across all the different opportunities for performance-making in all its various guises.

‘We’re supporting them to invent the future.’

Feeling inspired?  Applications to study at NIDA in 2022 are now open, with no application fees for any course. Find out more at

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