Welcoming award-winning artistic director Annette Mees to Substrakt

Author: Kathryn Mason

We’re really pleased to announce that award-winning artistic director Annette Mees will be joining Substrakt to lead a Research & Development project focused on exploring the digital future of cultural organisations.

The cultural sector’s relationship with digital has been radically reshaped over the past 18 months, and we’ve noticed a shift in the types of questions organisations are asking when it comes to planning their wider activity and operations.

“In amongst all the difficulties of the past year and a half we’ve seen many great examples of cultural organisations experimenting and engaging with digital to maintain a connection with their audiences – often with great success”, says our Managing Director Ash. “For many cultural organisations this is the first time they have seriously engaged with this area of work, and the conversations we’ve been having with them have demonstrated that most people are recognising the shift in thinking, resourcing, and operations that is required to achieve successful and sustainable digital work.”

Following a number of conversations with Annette about this shift, we’ve identified an exciting opportunity to help shape how these questions are answered by creating a research environment that can explore the different ways organisations are thinking about their digital infrastructure, artistic potential and process, and audience reach in a digital context.

As former Head of The Audience Labs at the Royal Opera House (which was dedicated to exploring the artistic possibilities of immersive technologies) and Visiting Senior Research Fellow in Culture and Creative Industries at King’s College London, Annette is perfectly positioned to lead this project, which will gather a small group of cultural organisations to generate new digital ideas, strategies and innovations.

“The pandemic has created a catalyst for reflection and change in arts and culture”, says Annette. “Many of us are exploring new ways to connect meaningfully to local, global and diverse audiences and how technology and creative R&D can help transform how and where culture is made and experienced.”

Annette brings a wealth of sector experience to this project. Alongside being chair of FutureEverything, Annette advises organisations on the future of culture, artistic innovation strategies, creative R&D and interdisciplinary collaborations. And she mentors diverse artists who are exploring new forms of artistic practise or work in the cross-over between art and activism.

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. Having started her career as one of the co-Artistic Directors of Coney, Annette has since worked with a range partners across sectors including Google, Tate Britain, UK Parliament, Ogilvy, WIRED Magazine, European Space Agency, British Council, King’s College, ICA, The National Theatre of Wales, SJ01 San Jose Biennale & NESTA.

“I’m really excited that Annette is joining us to lead this work”, says Ash. “Annette and I have been having conversations about the sector’s relationship with digital for years, so I’m pleased we’ve found a way to properly explore just some of the issues we regularly talk about. Annette has the perfect combination of skills and experience to identify and interrogate potential new ways of thinking and working in this area. I can’t wait to see where this project leads us.”

We’re looking forward to Annette starting with us on November 1st.