Equality, diversity & inclusion: central to the future of the creative industries

One of the most important questions that will be addressed at this year’s BEYOND is ‘What practical steps do we need to take to ensure that equality, diversity and inclusion are central to the creative industries of the future?’

Highlighted below, a number of sessions throughout the BEYOND programme that directly address these issues, as well as showcase the best of what the industry has to offer in terms of the use of digital technologies to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges.

2 Dec, 11am: Creative Emergence: Tech for Good

Featuring on the main stage (2nd Dec, 11am), Deepa Mann-Kler from Future Screens NI, part of the Creative Industries Clusters Programme, curates the Tech For Good session with a showcase of the best of UK creativity and research projects, unveiling projects that are utilising new and existing technologies to increase access and inclusion.

Commenting on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the creative industries ahead of her session at BEYOND, Deepa says: “For me tech for good is a mobilising framework for articulating the values, behaviours and attitudes that describe a focus on social impact, that is, putting people first.”

She goes on to add, “The outcomes of tech for good are more important than the mechanisms. They include the impact on the environment, communities, health, education, mobility and
transport. Everyone that works in this space is establishing a clear sense of identity and purpose. And that has to be a good thing.”

Deepa’s session sets out to illustrate how powerful tech for good can be as an enabler of increased diversity and inclusion and also demonstrates how it can provide mechanisms for people to access technologies in an open, efficient and sustainable way.

This session explores how AR is being used to improve the lives of people living with autism; the use of VR and music with people who have learning and/or physical disabilities; plug-ins supporting people with dyslexia; social action initiatives that leverage an innovative mix of digital technology and people power to reduce pressure on public services and address the challenges of an ageing population, loneliness and inequality across the UK.

3 Dec, 3.20pm: Towards an Inclusive News Sector

Focusing in on the news sector, a panel discussion (3 Dec, 3.20pm) around the decolonisation of news looks at the need to recognise audience trauma and how we can make news more neuro-inclusive. Hear from panelists including Grace Quantock, (Psychotherapeutic Counsellor, Writer and Researcher), Linus Harrison (R&D Project Lead, Entrepreneur, Support Worker) and Shirish Kulkarni (Bureau of Investigative Journalism) as they debate and discuss these topic areas and challenge the status quo, including audience Q&A.

2 Dec, 10.10am: Creating Shared Experiences for Multicultural Audiences

On the Creative China stage, as part of a programme exploring innovation in the Chinese Creative Industries, the Creating Shared Experiences for Multicultural Audiences session (2nd Dec, 10.10am) looks at how creating shared new innovative immersive cultural experiences that enhance audience engagement require understanding the complex needs of a multicultural audience – what do we share, how do we differ, what do researchers and businesses need to know in order to create successful co-productions? Join John Cassy (Factory 42), Haili Ma (University of Leeds), William Latham (The Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL / SoftV Ltd and London Geometry Ltd) and Zhenyuan Liu (College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University).

Showcase: Interactive Theatre 3D Video

BEYOND delegates get exclusive access to the Immersive Futures Lab, a showcase featuring many innovative and ground-breaking projects using a mix of the latest creative technologies, including this project from creative technology company Charisma.ai: a interactive theatre 3D video production that integrates the digital platform Zoom with AI technologies to create an online storytelling family experience.

Structured as an interactive theme park, it gives families agency and choice to create their own story based on the much-loved Lewis Carroll tale. Alice, A Virtual Theme Park was born out of a collaboration from interactive and immersive storytelling company Charisma.ai, together with Creation Theatre and Big Telly Theatre Company. As well as experiencing the production in the showcase, delegates can Meet the Makers behind this experience at BEYOND on 2nd Dec at 11am.

3 Dec, 6pm: Creative Informatics: CI Lab – Games Go Guerrilla

As part of the BEYOND programme, this CI Labs: Games Go Guerilla event (3 Dec, 6pm) from Creative Informatics explores the world of indie gaming with designers and artists that are developing innovative and inclusive new games concepts. Hear from some fantastic independent developers, designers and composers, creating new gaming experiences that include exploring a fictional Islamic country under an occupying force, an LGBTQ+ dating game – for the undead, and a therapeutic game for children with Cystic Fibrosis.

Discover how a growing number of independent developers, creators and practitioners, are taking games in entirely different directions behind the well-known major studios, using data in innovative new ways and creating unique experiences.

Join Jamie Bankhead, CEO of Konglomerate Games, an award-winning video games company, to hear about their games project designed to assist with the physiotherapy care of children with Cystic Fibrosis. Together with artist, musician and video games developer Jack King-Spooner (maker of alternative games – check out https://jackspinoza.itch.io/) and Luci Holland, a composer and sound artist who composes and produces music and audiovisual art for film, games and concert. Tickets can be booked for this free event, as part of the BEYOND programme, via Eventbrite.