Boomtown gets a University thanks to CCCI Immersion funding and help from Bath Spa students in production, media and design.
I had an Immersion grant to develop a new venue for Boomtown festival with Bath Spa students during SPA week, a programme of extra curricular activities running 18 to 22 March. I have many years' experience creating immersive theatre venues, games and installations for festivals and this year wanted to develop the ideas with the support of creative technology and engage a wide range of BSU students in a genuinely collaborative project.
Our project was to create the bones of a satirical University venue called Ivory Towers, using our experiences of Higher Education to satirise the effects of income inequality and cuts in the sector.
Unusually for SPA week, our activities ran for the full five days. As someone who is used to doing everything by myself at festivals, I found having collaborators, space, resources and the peer support of staff in other departments to be a supreme luxury! In all, eleven students attended, with six attending for the full five days, and two all but one.
We came out of the week with a really strong, engaged and creative core team of students. We also got much more done than I was expecting, with students from Theatre Production designing and marking out sets, creating Pinterest boards and starting on the budget and lighting plans, Performing Arts and Writing students creating strong characters and drafting in-game printed material and Creative Media Practice students creating Trello boards and scripting AV materials to shoot. The Staff support was well timed and well focused, especially from Creative Computing and Music Technology. SWCTN Fellow Coral Manton was invaluable with her experience of game design and physical computing, assisting us with walk-throughs and teaching us to make game drafts with paper and counters.
We came out with a plan to use an RFID based student ID system to create an internal economy. Each audience member that enrols has a randomly assigned budget from 'The Bank of Mum and Dad' which may necessitate doing a given number of menial jobs in other areas of the venue before being able to access the locked Assessment area. Inside, an interactive gauze projection of digital head honcho The Chancellator decides whether to confer a degree.
We all thoroughly enjoyed the week and now have a more solid plan for the venue and a more committed team than I've had at this time of year in all my time of making work for Boomtown.
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