Normally I start the year with a forward-looking post and a list of cities in my immediate workplan – unfortunately the start of this year has been a rollercoaster. This image is my desk, I’d like to spend less time here in 2021…

But there are positives, and some projects to look forward to:

Innovating into a visual future beyond screens, MyWorld is a £46M 5 year research project experimenting with the next wave of creative technologies in the production, distribution and consumption of content. Building on the existing strengths of the city MyWorld will create a globally significant R&D cluster in Bristol – I’m leading the development and investment workplan.

Through lockdown we have all developed new models of remote working and proved that adaptability and agility overcome the barriers of physical distances. This enforced change has revealed an opportunity to develop a post Covid global network of hybrid production, connected localities and distributed audience.

With Watershed, the Hybrids research will be a catalyst for the generation of a mechanic and model for sustained international collaboration, delivering partnership and impact at scale (and at distance).

Virtual Production
As flagged in the panel recording linked below, emerging virtual production technologies represent a fundamental shift in the relationship between the physical and digital elements in production. DIT in close partnership with DCMS has been looking at the implications for skills, R&D and investment as many of the major US studios plan VP builds in the UK in 2021 – how to future proof a currently highly successful creative sector?

In addition, I’m hopeful that the Global Partners collaborative R&D project, designed in partnership with Audience of the Future, will build on a successful pilot (with Discovery and WarnerMedia) and move on to an expanded programme.

And having delivered the West of England Cultural Compact framework, I’m interested to see how it develops in practice – there is great potential for a tangible impact.

But the final positive is the vaccine. The image below is of barcodes from all of the Covid tests I took as part of the (continuing) Oxford/AZ trial group. I still don’t know if I had the vaccine or placebo but volunteering to be part of the process feels now like the most impactful thing I did last year.

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