Innovations That Matter

7 COVID Innovations in Live Entertainment and Sport

Innovation Snapshot

These innovative solutions are helping us to get our live entertainment fix safely.

Within live sports and theatre, to music concerts and festivals, events which gather large numbers of people in one place are likely to face restrictions for the foreseeable future. But as these industries attempt to get back on their feet, many have come up with innovative solutions to getting back to work..

From AI-generated improv to virtual basketball fans, here are seven innovations spotted by Springwise that have responded imaginatively and quickly to the problems the virus has posed to live entertainment.

Photo source: ENO

1. DRIVE-IN OPERA AIMS TO REVIVE PERFORMANCE ART IN THE COVID ERA

Opera is one of the many performance arts to take a massive hit during the coronavirus lockdowns, and companies are looking for ways to restart with energy after the disruption, in a safe, distanced manner. Now, the English National Opera (ENO) is hosting a drive-in opera, at the Alexandra Palace in north London.

Although traditional drive-in cinemas are traditionally the stuff of hazy, American evenings, it is thought that such a feat has never been attempted with opera before. The “Drive & Live” concept will include the showing of shortened versions of well-known operas such as Puccini’s La bohème and Mozart’s The Magic Flute

The audience members must stay in their respective cars, and all of the performers are spread out across the stage along with social distancing guidelines. Up to 300 cars will be able to drive in, and you can also attend if you are on a bike or motorcycle. Instead of clapping, attendees can honk their horn or flash their lights to show their appreciation.

Read more about the Drive & Live concept.

Photo source: Berliner

2. BERLINER ENSEMBLE REDESIGNS THEATRE FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING

To prepare for reopening in alignment with Germany’s social-distancing policies, the Berlin-based theatre group Berliner Ensemble removed around 500 of its 700 seats, with every second row cleared. On the remaining rows, seats are arranged either individually or in pairs. The removal was also used as an opportunity to renovate the remaining historic seats.

The theatre group, which runs from a 19th-century Theater am Schiffbauerdamm building, posted an image of its auditorium on Twitter to give spectators a preview of what they can look forward to when it reopens in September. Alongside the physical changes, a thorough seating plan has also been developed. Tickets will be checked through contactless means, spectators must wear a mask until they reach their seat and guests will be brought to their seats in units of six people.

Read more about the Berliner Ensemble.

Photo source :University of Edinburgh/Improvbot

3. AI HELPS REGENERATE CANCELLED EDINBURGH FRINGE SHOWS

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh are using artificial intelligence to help create descriptions for a lineup of Edinburgh Fringe Festival improv shows, as part of this year’s virtual edition. A real-life comedy troupe, the Improverts, are staging their own versions of these shows on Twitter, based on what the AI comes up with.

The AI, dubbed ImprovBot, is using eight years’ worth of data from previous Fringe programmes to create novel show descriptions, which began posting on Twitter every hour (@improvbot_ai) when the festival began on 7th August. The bot will ultimately come up with over 350 show descriptions. The festival’s eclectic events listings have long been part of its charm and tradition.

Read more about ImprovBot.

Photo source: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

4. ROYALTIES INCREASED FOR LIVE-STREAMED CONCERTS

As the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic continues, one group of people who have been hit particularly hard are performing artists. With live venues closed and tours cancelled, performers have been left with few ways to earn money. Now, the Canadian performance rights organisation SOCAN has created a new program to help deliver royalties during the pandemic.

The Encore! initiative sets aside money to pay royalties for concerts broadcast on Facebook and Instagram. SOCAN points out that, normally, live performances on social media do not generate more than a few pounds in royalties – which must be split amongst all of the rights holders, such as performers, songwriters, composers and music publishers. 

Read more about the Encore! initiative.

Photo source: Microsoft

5. PRO BASKETBALL LEAGUE TO BRING BACK FANS, VIRTUALLY

As the coronavirus pandemic spread, virtually all professional sports ground to a halt. Now, as teams try to find a way to start up again, many are considering playing games without fans, or are only letting a few into the stadium. But without fans, sports games just don’t have the same atmosphere. This is why the National Basketball Association (NBA) has decided to restart its season with virtual fans.

The NBA has announced plans to use Microsoft Teams to project more than 300 fans live courtside during games. The fans will appear on 17-foot video screens and will be able to interact with one another. The NBA hopes the experience will allow fans to feel like they are at a live game and give players a similar energy boost that they get from “live” support.

Read more about the NBA scheme.

Photo source: Liceu Barcelona / Eugenio Ampudia

6. BARCELONA THEATRE REPLACES AUDIENCE WITH PLANTS

Music meets nature in Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu’s reopening concert. A mix of cheese plants, ficus trees and palms served as the audience for the live-streamed concert played on 22 June. Following months of closure due to the coronavirus, the venue’s first concert was a collaborative performance of art and music. The UceLi Quartet played Puccini’s “Crisantemi”, and artist Eugenio Ampudia filled all 2,292 seats of the auditorium with plants.

Working with the Max Estrella Gallery, the videos and images of the performance will be on display as part of a contemporary art collection. After the concert, the plants were donated to frontline healthcare professionals. As part of Liceau’s return to activity post-pandemic, the performance was a commentary on the interaction of humans and nature.

Read more about the plant audience.

Photo source: Stihl

7. STIHL SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN REVIVES OLD SPORTS FOOTAGE DURING LOCKDOWN

Sports lovers have had a very difficult time during the lockdowns prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. With live sports in hiatus, they have had to make do with reruns of old events. The chainsaw maker Stihl, however, saw an opportunity in this, to promote videos of its Timbersports lumberjack competition with a social media campaign.

Stihl’s social media campaign directed people to their YouTube channel, which led to 1.87 million social media impressions — 27 per cent more than expected. With this year’s Timbersports competition cancelled, the YouTube videos featured last year’s competition. Even so, it was tremendously popular with a sports-starved audience, garnering about 95,000 clicks — six times the original target. In fact, the campaign led many viewers to binge-watch the entire 16-episode series.

Read more about the Timbersports Series.

Written and Curated By: Holly Hamilton