Marcus Romer offers a suggestion to anyone who wants to find out how they will be working three years from now.

Back in 2008, Julie Borchard-Young from the New York Metropolitan Opera came to speak at the first Shift Happens conference about the then recent New York Met live broadcasts into cinemas that had just started. It was clear to me that this was going to mean a seismic shift for all arts organisations and was going to be a true game-changer for the sector. In the audience back then was David Sabel, who was responsible for digital at The National Theatre, and the conversations he had with Julie led to the conception of NTLive – which was subsequently born with the Borchard-Young company delivering the project. We livestreamed Shift Happens in 2008, and this process has led to Pilot Theatre’s development of this work on a national level. This has resulted in the six-camera livestream of the York Mystery Plays for The Space, and more recently our open democracy programme for City of York Council, livestreaming their cabinet and council meetings. Perhaps more than anything these examples illustrate the value of bringing key speakers into contact with the sector, sharing ideas and thinking that can make some real shift happen.

‘Shift’s is our version of TED  for the Arts and Cultural Sector. The idea for it followed my first trip to TED in Monterey back in 2007. It was here that I first saw the impact of the creative collisions and interactions that occurred as part of the day. It was about thinking, about ideas, about making shifts happen. Now, more than ever we need to be able to challenge our existing thinking and to be seeking creative solutions collectively. As we head into more uncertain times in terms of public subsidy and shifting landscapes, it is our duty to lead with innovative and inspiring ideas that can provide solutions to the problems that as yet don't exist, but for sure are coming down the track. Speakers who have shared their visions with us over the years include Ken Robinson, with his now well-known clarion call for creativity within education; Jonathan Harris and the new methods of digital storytelling; and Clay Shirky, who last year shared his vision for harnessing the power and wisdom of the crowd.

This year we will have asked our world-class speakers to look at their visions for the future and how the cultural and media industries can best harness the opportunities that the new and emergent digital platforms have to offer. We will be joined by Internet guru Howard Rheingold, live from San Francisco, who will be talking about the power of networks and virtual communities; Kate Russell, BBC Click presenter who will be looking at crowd funding and working with the cloud; and Matt Mason from BitTorrent who will be demonstrating their new platform for data and content sharing that will revolutionise how we will access music and performance. It is impossible to predict the precise outcome of the encounters that will take place at Shift V this year, but if you want to find out how you will be working in the next three years, this is the place to do it.


Marcus Romer is Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre and presenter of the Shift Happens conferences. Shift V  is happening on 8 July in York and ArtsProfessional is delighted to be the media partner for the conference. Editor Liz Hill will be among the speakers.

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Photo of Marcus Romer