On 12 May, EIF organised a virtual debate titled "Digital innovation in the creative and cultural sectors", chaired by MEP Sabine Verheyen and moderated by Maria Rosa Gibellini, Director General at European Internet Forum.
The panel of speakers was composed by:
- Sabine Verheyen MEP and EIF Steering Committee Member
- Francesco Ronchi, President & CEO, Synesthesia
- Gianpiero Lotito, Founder & CEO, FacilityLive
- Antonio Nicoletti, General Director of the Regional Agency for Territorial Development of Basilicata
- Sophie Burkhardt, Deputy General Manager, Funk
- Magnus Nystrom, Vice President of Technical Operations and IT, Nordic Entertainment Group
Sabine Verheyen MEP, who chairs the European Parliament Culture and Education Committee, opened proceedings by welcoming all participants and setting the scene: “Two months ago, as the Coronavirus began to spread, big concert halls and small venues, theatres and museums closed their doors”. MEP Verheyen highlighted the unprecedented crisis that the European cultural and creative sectors are facing, that “the consequences of which will be long-lasting and devastating especially for those that depend directly on a live audience, such as theatres, cinemas, festivals etc.”
Francesco Ronchi stated that, as the covid19 crisis started, Synesthesia identified the need to build new paradigms or evolve existing ones. They placed a large emphasis on digital education, engaging both adults and children through a range of traditional teaching, gaming and interactive methods. Mr. Ronchi offered three examples of initiatives: the Synesthesia Academy (free online seminars), FuturMakers (free and paid weekly training sessions) and GirlsTech. “From off-line to on-line, focusing on digital as a medium and as a subject of education. We have seen that bringing existing initiatives online has transformed local projects into nation-wide enterprises, with enlarged audiences and multiplied opportunities”.
Gianpiero Lotito stressed that Covid19 is an accelerator of certain processes: “This acceleration can be used to create what Europe lacks for decades: a set of European digital technologies that can allow Europe to not be a follower, but a protagonist in the digital world. For Europe to become a leader, there is need for base technologies and platforms, for tech champions and for ecosystem builders”. In conclusion, Mr. Lotito stated that FacilityLive aims to be such tech champions and builders of ecosystems and they hope that more companies will follow.
Antonio Nicoletti shared a few takeaways from Matera, the European Capital of Culture 2019, where relations were created between the ancient town and the contemporary art, creativity. “We discovered that this generative energy was transferrable to innovation and technology so the administration and some tech actors, facilitators and innovators worked together to build a legacy between the place and the technology & innovation”. Mr. Nicoletti underlined the added value that technology brings to our lives, especially during these times: “Through tech, we can see and open up the future for workers in the cultural sector. The enhancement of audience is something that needs to be reset for the wellbeing of artists”.
Sophie Burkhardt explained how Funk, part of the German public broadcast system, is fulfilling democratic cultural and social needs, targeting a young audience through non-traditional channels: YouTube and social media. “The difference between Funk and a commercial network: what we do cannot be monetized. At Funk we share our insights about the functioning of social media platforms with our young audiences to increase their digital literacy”. Ms. Burkhardt added: “Being a public broadcaster makes us truly independent. And young audiences really appreciate a balanced perspective.”
The perspective on innovation from a Nordic point of view was brought by Magnus Nystrom: “The streaming landscape is crowded nowadays and it’s within our DNA to nurture a culture that constantly challenges the status-quo to drive innovation & deliver premium customer experiences”. Mr. Nystrom then explained the Nordic Entertainment Group’s ‘customer funnel perspective’ which involves the following steps: Customer funnel perspective in different steps: Attract and acquisition, Activation, Retention and Customer segments. In conclusion, Mr. Nystrom shared with the audience their strategic priorities, focused on the development of streaming services that tell Nordic stories, relevant entertainment experiences, the attraction of international talent and a sustainable long-term business approach.
Before wrapping up the debate, MEP Verheyen shared a few remarks with the audience: “as we have spent several weeks at home, it is obvious how fundamental culture is to us. Whether it is watching a film, listening to music, enjoying an online museum tour or simply reading a book, culture matters so much to our everyday life.” “If today we do not support our artists, creators and professionals working in those sectors, it may have devastating consequences for cultural diversity. Looking forward, we need to ensure that there are platforms for expression for emerging artists and for alternative creators promoting European diversity. We need to create the conditions for our vibrant cultural and creative sector to recover and to thrive.”, MEP Verheyen concluded.