Digital Works #12: Audiences

Author: Ash Mann

Digital Works is our programme of content and events which brings people from across the arts, cultural, heritage and creative sectors to share best practice around digital.

On Wednesday 13th January, Digital Works #12 examined the issue of digital audiences. 

Operating digitally, or incorporating digital into the traditional physical experience of culture requires a significant shift in thinking and approach.

We will be exploring questions such as: how you build a digital-only audience and create an experience/work for them. How digital audiences are different to an in-person audience. What the attitudes of audiences are to live experiences vs online experiences. How you create hybrid, or blended experiences.


Annette Mees, Head of The Audience Labs, Royal Opera House

Annette Mees is an award-winning artist and immersive theatre director. She advises on the future of culture, artistic innovation, creative R&D and models of art that allow dialogue with audiences.

Annette is currently the Head of The Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House – dedicated to exploring the artistic possibilities of immersive technologies. It partners leading artists with cutting-edge creative immersive technology and inter-disciplinary creative teams to create world-class work that innovates and pushes boundaries.

She was a Creative Fellow for WIRED and The Space, Guest-Artistic Director of the Danish Inspiration Lab and worked on the IK-prize winning Sensorium at Tate Britain. She started her career as one of the co-Artistic Directors of Coney.

Annette has worked with partners across sectors including Google, Tate Britain, UK Parliament, Ogilvy, European Space Agency, British Council, Magic Leap, King’s College, ICA, The National Theatre of Wales, SJ01 San Jose Biennale, & NESTA.

Stuart Buchanan, Head of Digital Programming, Sydney Opera House

Stuart Buchanan is an arts programmer, digital producer and podcaster, and is the Head of Digital Programming for Sydney Opera House. He recently led the development of a six-month season of online programming during Covid-10, which garnered over 5m views worldwide.

Stuart has worked with organisations such as ABC, Disney, SBS, Sydney Festival, The Guardian, MONA, Royal Court Theatre and TED, and as founder of digital cultural agency The Nest. He has presented radio programs and podcasts on ABC Double J, FBi Radio and London’s Resonance FM, and is the curator of the New Weird Australia music initiative.

Ankur Bahl, Director of Content and Audiences, Sadler’s Wells

Ankur Bahl is Director of Content & Audiences at Sadler’s Wells, where he leads on digital content and strategy, communications and brand.

Prior to Sadler’s Wells, he was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company, where he advised Fortune 500 companies in the Media and Consumer industries on strategy and organisational design.

Before that, Ankur spent ten years as an actor and dancer performing for some of the UK’s best-known arts organizations. His career spanned performances with DV8 Physical Theatre, RSC, Shakespeare’s Globe, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, National Dance Company of Wales, Rifco Arts and Tara Arts.

Ankur holds an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business, an MA in Migration and Diaspora from SOAS, an MA in Contemporary Dance from the London Contemporary Dance School, and a BA and MA in Broadcast Journalism from Northwestern University.

He was the recipient of the Fulbright and Marshall Scholarships and proudly serves on the Board of Trustees of Paines Plough.

Digital Works #12 took place on Wednesday 13th January, 9.00am-10.30am (GMT)

Find out more about Digital Works #11 (People & Skills) and Digital Works #13 (Money).