Blog: A New Phase31.05.2024

Blog: A New Phase

Civic Digits is seven years old this year. Hard to believe it’s been seven whole years since we made our first scratch version of The Big Data Show at the Science Festival in 2017.

We received the Extended fund from Creative Scotland in February and that means we’re in a new phase now, and for 18 months we’ll be delivering a coherent programme of work. I think it’s coherent. It feels coherent. It’s the first time we’ve been able to pull all our different thoughts, pet projects and tit-bits into one timeline. It’s the first time that we’ve been able to really plan ahead. That feels like such a luxury and we’re loving it.

So, what is the programme? Well. Like all good stories it comes in three parts.

First, it’s data driven performance for young people, their families and communities.

We’re making Many Good Men again, this time in Romania and sharing it online with digital youth workers in Scotland. We’ll be using our new platform SWISH which we’re developing so there is an off-the-shelf tech that can allow theatre makers to integrate data driven interaction with audiences, to make hybrid performance feel more ‘live’ for the online participants.

Many Good Men is a participant led project we’ve been working on since 2022 and which was produced at Hearts Football Club in February 2024. It explores the radicalisation of masculinity online. You can see our little promo here. The BBC published an article about it, which was the most read piece on the BBC news website that day… until the murderer of Emma Caldwell was sentenced.

I suppose there could be a strange sense of co-incidence that the article about Many Good Men, which is about gender-based violence, was only viewed less than an article about a man who raped and killed a woman and wasn’t caught for 36 years. But I also can’t help thinking that it isn’t much of a co-incidence when Global estimates published by the World Health Organisation in 2021 indicate that about 1 in 3 (30%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Important to also say that in Scotland 76% of the victims of violence are men and 96% of the perpetrators of that violence are men. Statistics are tricky, but our experience of making Many Good Men has proved that people want to talk about how violence is a gender issue and one that victimises people of all genders.

We’ve been inundated with requests to produce Many Good Men as a touring show and as a training tool for professionals who work with young people. We’ve fielded messages from teachers and youth workers talking about how they feel online gender-based violence is making their working lives impossible. We’re hoping to tour MGM in 2025/26.

Second, it’s data driven performance training and peer learning for the theatre sector.

The Lightbulb Sessions: Our programme is going to be creating space and opportunities for theatre makers to explore what data driven theatre is and could be. We’ll be announcing the dates for The Lightbulb Sessions in June. The Lightbulb Sessions will be a series of 12 monthly workshops with speakers, games and exercises, excellent snacks, a couple of seed grants to apply for, an online hub and networking events at Codebase in Edinburgh and online.

Thirdly, it’s data driven, participant led community art.

We’re going to be running an intergenerational project, Hack Your Age. Exploring how data driven technology could be helping us to live better lives in older age and what the dangers of this technology might be. We’ll be inventing new tech and performing speculative drama about the future.

We’re very excited and not a little nervous about it all.

Get in touch at contact@civicdigits@gmail
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See you there!