Supporting remote teaching of performing arts

How do artists play music together in times of a crisis like COVID-19? How do they teach, run courses, collaborate, rehearse, and perform during lockdowns all over the world?

Enter: the Network Performing Arts Production Workshops (NPAPWs), where the international community comes together to support students, academics, practitioners in the field of music, dance, theatre and helps them to stay connected, work, and learn remotely during the COVID-19 crisis.

Why Arts?

Research and education go beyond science and encompass many disciplines, including the arts and humanities, social sciences, and other cultural areas. Art has always been a driver for technology and science, from the patent of the first music communication and streaming device in 1876 (the Musical Telegraph, by Elisha Gray) to the latest developments in terms of low‐latency audio‐video communication (LoLa, Ultragrid).

The Workshops

Held in Europe and the United States annually since 2009, NPAPWs are a collaborative project of GÉANT, Internet2, New World Symphony, GARR and other European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) and various cultural institutions around the world.

The 2020 workshop was planned to take place at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, USA at their Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC). Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the event was postponed to 2021, leaving more than just a gap in the list of activities planned for the art & humanities communities in Europe.

The workshops have three main objectives:

  • Outreach to new user communities in the arts and humanities by demonstrating the use of R&E networks in supporting real-time musical, dance, and artistic performances
  • Collaboration between R&E networks and cultural institutions worldwide
  • Expert knowledge exchange on the use of specific tools to support teaching, auditions, and remote performances

“With the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Network Performing Arts Workshop, there was also a keen interest by the Programme Committee to share their knowledge and advice with the community as all of us had to pivot to an unprecedented learning and performance environment. This webinar is one small example of how motivated the Research and Education community is – to help each other, to share ideas with each other, and to see ourselves through challenges, together.”

Ann Doyle, Internet2

Workshops move to online interactive versions

Internet2 and GÉANT have been partnering on NPAPW for years. With the sudden shift to online teaching for many organisations, the NPAPW Programme Committee organised an interactive webinar where a group of long-time experts and collaborators from the U.S. and Europe would share online teaching practices, as well as more in-depth advice for those teaching online in the performing arts.

Low latency essential for virtual performances

Musicians playing music together online without any delay between them is among the most demanding challenges of live streaming. Timing constraints and latency issues make synchronous and asynchronous collaboration almost impossible. The 2020 edition of the NPAPW aimed at helping solve these challenges, sharing tips and best practices with the attendees and giving them the know-how to unlock a new level of creativity and improve the online experience.

The NPAPW strikes a chord in these unprecedented times in which we are living, as it sees the impact of new technologies extend outside of traditional theatres and established recording studios. Along these lines, several organisations and associations, such as the British Flute Society and the Association of European Conservatories, have put together a collaborative list of useful tools and technologies to help musicians and teachers during the COVID-19 crisis. The list compiles mental health support resources, educational advice, livestream concerts and useful apps.

GÉANT’s role

GÉANT was co-host and co-organiser of the webinar as well as presenter and main point of contact for the arts & humanities communities in Europe.

GÉANT and its NREN partners play a crucial role in Europe promoting, advocating, connecting, and enabling remote arts tuition, performances, and knowledge exchange. The GÉANT community has many artists and technologists with specialist expertise in networking for the arts, supporting schools, music conservatories, art academies in Europe and worldwide.

The interactive webinar has been recorded and is available to watch on the Network Performing Arts Production Workshops (NPAPWs) website.

Published: 10/2020

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