Live Streaming

Streaming in performance is a loaded area. While the obvious access opportunities are great, there are lots of issues around what, where, how much and what we even call this digital addition that is becoming so important to live art.

First the practical, what exactly do we mean by live streaming? Options include the use of static cameras on tripods versus using a live camera crew. Besides the relative costing differences, there are hundreds of reasons why we might choose one method over another, each one with even more alternatives. How and where should static cameras be placed? How many cameras should be used? Do the camera crew become part of the performance itself?

Many of these issues come down to whether we should be treating an online audience as equal to the physical audience. If so are we not obliged to strive to provide the same experience? And then how does the streaming impact on the expeience of the physical audience? When does streaming equipment begin to change what the present audience experience? With online audiences potentailly outnumbering the physical audience might we lose something of the feel of a live performance, as if we’re inviting them to a filmset?

So does the thought of a less committed audience offend us? An online audience will inevitably watch differently. The experience of a recorded or streamed performance can arguably never be as powerful as the live version. There are aspects of a performance beyond the visual and as technology develops, we’re seeing ever more innovative and performance practice… – sensography. Are we therefore offering our online audiences a reduced performance? Does live streaming cut people off even further? What about those with no internet connection or a generation that are not ‘digital natives’? Are we doing enough to introduce new audiences to the possibility?
At the same time, it could be said that live streaming is in fact more powerful. As we’ve said before, digital interaction may well be the answer to audience participation that performance art needs.

If we can achieve more online, or at least achieve something different, are we talking about the emergence of a new artform? Possibly, who are the curators of this new space? Working with a venue is one thing but what about curating a space where your viewers can adjust the volume, dim the lights, switch cameras or get up and go and make a cup of tea?

The implications on the more traditional audience are huge! Does an online audience encourage people to come and see a live show or make them feel like they’ve seen it? People who buy a DVD won’t then go see it in the cinema (usually). People who buy an album will go and see a band live. What role does mystery have in the arts? The industry is scared of losing business and artistis are scared of giving everything away…

But, we do know that live streaming promotes more access to the arts…Undoubtedly, streaming allows access to performances to those that might have had none but is potential the key word here? Certainly the possibility of access is there but are we really seeing larger audiences from around the world, disadvantaged people and the less able taking a new interest in dance and performance or are we just transferring our current audiences?

In-Finite is being live streamed on Friday from 8pm ( Or attend in person at Rich Mix from 7.30pm (

2 thoughts on “Live Streaming

  1. Live streaming is definitely an area of huge uncertainty, innovation and exciting potential. Personally I think that an online audience will come to expect an element of ‘value-added’ that will hook them longer into watching. How much of that is from due to engagement in the lead up to the show and how much due to interactivity with the performance and other online viewers is interesting and possibly slightly undocumented at the moment.

    I agree that the number of cameras used must be balanced with preventing the stream becoming too much of a ‘film-set’ broadcast which could alienate the in-house audience. And of course, one of the other limiting factors in terms of camera and crew numbers is the cost; will live streaming ever be financially economical and sustainable? What is the price of a ‘ticket’ that our online audience will be willing to pay, particularly given that current online viewing habits appear to be quite fickle?

    In terms of widening access to performances, I really do believe that live streaming will increase the audience rather than cannibalise it, particularly for art/culture that has a non-traditional edge. Hopefully it will encourage new audiences to ‘taste’ the show and may even, in time, lead them to experience it in a venue rather than solely online.

    Well done for starting the debate – hope you have time to write up your thoughts on the In-Finite live stream from last week too.

    1. Hi Em – there are definitely lots of thoughts percolating from March – we’re still in the process of unpicking them all – but we now have a concept which we’re calling Triple Choreography which addresses exactly what you point out – the need for an extra hook to keep audiences engaged. We’ll be writing more about that very soon.

      Regarding an online ticket price – this is another topic to get really curious about – at the moment we’re interested in the difference between a live and a streamed performance as an experience. We’re not trying to recreate the in person experience – it’s impossible so we hope that people who see it for free online will be motivated to want to pay for the performance in the flesh. Diane Ragsdale says some really interesting things on this – that the online audience wont replace the in-person one, rather it will enhance it!

      Perhaps one day we’ll introduce a membership system which will give people unlimited access to lots of special material – but perhaps keep access to the streamings free. Not sure – we’ll have to see what viewing habits develop!

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