Opportunities for using virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality technologies will be developed with a view to extending the ways audiences across the world can experience live performance.

Manchester International Festival, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Punchdrunk, the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Space are among 15 organisations embarking on a £16m initiative to discover and develop the next stage of immersive performance experiences for audiences around the world.  

Global technology giants, pioneers in immersive technology and top British universities will work together with the arts organisations over two years to explore what it means to perform live using emerging technologies. The project aims to create opportunities for the UK cultural sector to change the way audiences experience live performance, using virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR).

The aim is that by using devices such as mobile phones, Extended Reality (XR) headsets and streaming into live performance environments, or even in the home, audiences will be able to experience live performance in entirely new ways.

The initiative forms part of the Audience of the Future programme, funded through the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and being delivered by UK Research and Innovation following the announcement of the Creative Industries Sector Deal in March last year.  The first year of the programme will focus on collaborative research and development, with the intention of delivering an immersive live performance on multiple platforms in 2020.

RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran said: “Some of the best brains in the creative industries and research sector will work together in this unique collaboration looking at the future potential of live performance and what that means for the industry, the creative sector and audiences around the world.  

“Every partner has something different to offer through their work with immersive technologies and live performance, and the potential to deliver an experience for audiences that has never been seen before is hugely exciting.”

Liz Hill