The problem your project solves
Get Active Online! addresses two general problems due to the lockdown:
- Physical, social and emotional impact of the lockdown on people’s wellbeing and health, due to isolation, stress, loneliness, inability to connect, move, touch each other, gather in groups, do sports or go to creative performances or workshops.
- Loss of work and practice for professional artists, performers and somatic practitioners. This is especially targeting the independent professionals and small theatre groups, as they are hardest hit by the crisis and have very little institutional support and structure to fall back on.
- Younger people (18 - 35), young practitioners, (ex-)students and people who are in insecure job positions, who are dealing with broken dreams and interrupted careers, and often have little financial resources.
The solution you bring to the table (including technical details, architecture, tools used)
Get Active Online! Is an initiative to bring artists, somatic practitioners and participants together online, in order to transform the damage brought about by the crisis into healing and creative possibilities. We share workshops in somatic and creative practices through digital connections between individuals around the globe, transforming their private spaces temporarily into healing spaces, training rooms and creative studios. The goal is to expand this workshop platform to reach more people, and to broaden its scope into a rich ecology of practices, workshops, performances and dialogues that transforms both practitioners and participants from users into a community of co-creators. This will be a unique innovation.
We are aware that digital strategies and meetings do not take the place of physical proximity, but they do offer a rich solution in this crisis. Even afterwards, they add opportunities to connect across distances, which could lead to new collaborations, exchanges and possibilities.
The core of Get Active Online! is digital scheduling and collaborative platforming. A bolt-on page on the pre-existing website of Intercultural Roots integrates two google calendars where our schedule of live and interactive sessions are listed, see https://interculturalroots.org/getactiveonline Users can see session listings and learn how to install zoom (free license to zoom pro provided by the University of California at Davis - Theatre & Dance) and access our 'zoom room' 8080804040. Our second 'embodied practitioner calendar' allows any practitioner running online sessions to list them here by adding an 'invitee' email address to their own google calendar listings.
As a not-for-profit charity, Get Active Online! makes funding available to its members, and creates income for practitioners through the workshops. Currently, sessions are provided free of charge to the public with suggested voluntary contributions suggested via links to https://donorbox.org/interculturalroots
What you have done during the weekend
The team gathered new members to the project, each of whom brought in their expertise, vision and also personal desires, expanding the potential network of participants, practitioners and small theatre groups. The meetings have brought many fruitful ideas to the project. Technical help with the website, funding opportunities, and a broadening of the vision.
We have identified several needs, from technical and structural needs to the need for more social coherency, both on the side of the practitioners and the participants, so the platform can start to function as a co-creative community. We researched possible links with other Hackathon groups and technology and are aware of immersive environments, distributed creativity, digital stages and sets, a virtual campus with 250 000 students and staff potentially reachable and wanting access to physical practice. We’ve worked with and succeeded in integrating our mentor into our protocol.
The solution’s impact to the crisis
The impact at the moment exceeds 850 participants, reached from the start of the project five weeks ago. So far, there are over 40 practitioners involved. We aim to reach a cumulative of 1 million people by September 2020 through upscaling.
As our technical, financial and structural capacity grows, we will bring in more practitioners and participants by engaging our existing international networks, like Nordisk Teater Laboratory (DK), Manchester Metropolitan University (UK), Theater Brama (PL). EUGLOH (European University for Global Health). We have them waiting in the wings, so to speak, but this only makes sense when we have created a plan for scaling up. The countries we have in our close network include DE, FR, P, H, S, IT, PL, DK, UK, BRA, NL, BE, RSA, MLT, FIN, plus 80 practitioner-scholars from universities in 24 countries who attend the Embodied Research Working Group of the IFTR – International Federation for Theatre Research.
As we are especially targeting younger people (between 18 to 35 yrs) we are thrilled to have potential access to 210K university students in 5 interconnected countries using our team members' networks; there is an extensive network available through the participating practitioners, artists and theatre groups.
Through the real time, interactive and creative connection there is a very deep sense of ‘being together’, which significantly alleviates the isolation and confinement. The screens become open windows, where the healing power of human to human connection is fully present. These open windows also connect the private spaces, in a way that is intimate, safe and energising, so the community and connections built here are powerful supports to stay healthy and present during the crisis, and enable local and individual actions that will help to start up social life again after the lockdowns finish.
The artist meetings that we facilitate offer a deep exploration and evolution of co-creative processes using digital tools, like Zoom, Slack, Basecamp and with google docs integrated. Think of the creation of artistic material, digital dramaturgies and innovative performative strategies. We are ready to start working with more intensive digital technologies.
The necessities in order to continue the project
There are still challenges to overcome and we do need help in solving them. Basically there is a challenge just to continue on the scale we are working on now, which is mainly funding to pay our practitioners for the workshops, as, although the voluntary contributions are increasing with participation – current average is around £300 per week, are not enough to cover all the costs at the moment – currently around £1 000 per week.
Then there is the necessity to scale up, so we can reach more practitioners, artists and participants globally, and to become sustainable in the near future. In addition, we also intend to expand the platform into an ecosystem of practices, workshops and performances. The first wave of upscaling will be the circle closely connected to us and from there we build outwards, using also platforms like LinkedIn, theatres and universities. We are fortunate to have a huge network of practitioners and participants waiting in the wings that can be activated. We would need to fund a targeted digital advertising campaign to reach them, maybe via Euronews Culture too.
- We need stop-gap funds urgently as our existing funds run out in a matter of weeks – we need to pay our practitioners while they have no other income.
- We need business support and mentoring to cope with increased demand, capacity and expansion. While our feedback to date is excellent we need to monitor quality, mitigate risks and ensure accountability to assure the quality of delivery to the public and financially to our stakeholders.
- We need technical support or partners to expand the range of possibilities that we have online, including automated language support, growing into webinar status and technical and structural integrations that enables a complex and international project to function. Partnership with a digital stage / rehearsal platform would open up many of the actions we need.
The value of your solution(s) after the crisis
While this crisis has powered the development of this online platform, we believe that also after the crisis, artists, practitioners and participants will continue to meet online. The main values we see after the crisis are
- The continuation of the digital workshops, connecting individual teachers and students around the globe.
- The innovation of the platform will open new doors for future culture creation and sharing, as it builds a platform during the crisis for the conscious and creative preparation for life after it. It facilitates dialogue and exploration of the way we function and co-exist together, leading to new strategies and structures for promoting and sharing health and art, new ways of linking digital and real-life experiences and content, and also new forms of gatherings and festivals.
- The platform creates meaningful and practical connections, visibility and income for independent artists, small theatres and practitioners. This is especially empowering because they are often scattered and invisible. Many work in a fragmented and project-based way, which can lead to professional isolation and loneliness.
- By facilitating sharing of ideas and support between peers, the platform enables an interlinked explosion of small scale local performances and artistic actions after the lockdown, in the period when the bigger venues and institutions are still closed.
TEXT PRIOR TO SUNDAY 26TH APRIL HACKATHON
On March 12th the studio based dance, yoga, tai chi, pilates embodied workshops and labs we were delivering in London for physical and mental health stopped because of COVID-19. Our partnership developed within one week a rapid prototype called Get Active Online! to provide continuity by innovatively offering online sessions using Zoom Pro. In these last five weeks our schedule has expanded and from 0 online participants we now have more than 700! Feedback from the public is wonderful with many people saying the sessions are a lifebelt in these challenging times of distancing, isolation and lock-down. It is preventing a lot of mental health issues developing or exacerbating and also financially supporting practitioners who have no other source of income as all their work is cancelled and there's no government support.
What it does
A bolt on page on our existing website integrates two google calendars where our schedule of live and interactive sessions are listed. See https://interculturalroots.org/getactiveonline Users can see of session listings and learn how to install zoom (free license to zoom pro provided by the University of California at Davis - Theatre & Dance) and access our 'zoom room' 8080804040 Our second 'embodied practitioner calendar' allows any practitioner running online sessions to list them here by adding an 'invitee' email address to their own google calendar listings - very innovative! We request voluntary donations via https://donorbox.org/interculturalroots
How I built it
Within one week we contacted our existing practitioners and asked who would be able to deliver online. We used wordpress to build the page integrating code from google calendar integration into the wordpress html widgets. We pooled all our funds and reserves into employing people on pr, promotion, comms, admin. technical support, scheduling..
Challenges I ran into
Integrating the google calendars took a lot of time but was an amazing breakthrough when we made it work! We have increased our number of participants quite slowly but steadily. This growth is reflected in the level of voluntary contributions received at £300 per week on average don't meet the current £1,000 per week operating costs. This means our funding and reserves are diminishing and we can only continue until the end of May..
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
The feedback we have received is amazing. Here's a few comments: 'I had a really good experience. feel relaxed and together now.' 'Thank you so much for a great online workshop this afternoon. I've never done an online meeting like that before and found it really engaging and fun. I had to cancel my trip to London so it meant I could still do the workshop from my home in Sheffield!' 'Thank you! I think it all worked very well indeed in terms of technology. And the content was just right for this challenging time. ' 'Just want to give some feedbacks on today’s zoom session. In general I loved it!! It works really well for me. I can see and hear you perfectly during the session. And actually working on my own psychically makes me easier to tune in into my own energy.' 'The section by zoom worked very well. To be honest, it worked better than what I expected. I went to the section looking for artistic connection and fluidity, since the whole coronavirus situation has been stucking my energy and my creativity is blocked in this mental worries. In the section I managed to feel more grounded and could feel the energy vibrating throughout my body, specially pelvis and heart. I know being physically with people brings an important and crucial connection for the work, but I felt everybody with me even if we were not in the same room. It's definitely an option for now'
What I learned
The importance of listening to the team. Mentoring people and providing mission control and respecting their expertise. We operate a flat but coordinated hierarchy - my role has been to establish and support the team. Everyone is recognised as an essential part of the team, everyone equal. None of us had done anything like this before so every day we are learning new things. Sometimes from constructive feedback. We've learned that all feedback is positive when we understand it's being given in a spirit of continual improvement.
What's next for Get Active Online!
Get Active Online! is ready to grow from a workshop platform into an ecology of practices which transforms both the practitioners and participants into a community of co-creators. For this we are looking for financial, business and technical support.
We have already made progress – finding both technical help and new collaborations, but we do need funds urgently to pay our practitioners while they have no other income. We also need business support and mentoring to cope with increasing demand and expansion. Our goal is to be easier to use, multi-lingual and offering more functionality, interactions and visibility at the new domain we've registered www.getactiveonline.org.
By the end of September 2020, we want to have ONE MILLION participants (from a baseline now of 850!!) and be financially self-sustainable. We need support and help to achieve this and that's why we're here at the first every Hackathon we've encountered. We are open to all ideas and offers, please help!