Folk och Kultur - Digit or Die?
A Case Study
Digit or Die?
In early December 2021, with Omicron blanketing the world, Folk och Kultur were faced with the decision of what to do with their pending annual conference in mid-February 2022. The options available were: 1) hold it in the city of Eskilstuna, Sweden at the Stiga-arena conference centre, 2) host it on-line or 3) cancel the event.
Having previously hosted the event on-line in February 2021 due to Covid restrictions, Folk och Kultur were reluctant to proceed given the prior year`'s feedback about the event being passive with sub-optimal opportunities for social interaction. Yet, the financial risk associated with hosting it at Stiga conference centre and cancelling it at the last minute because of Omicron were too high to accept. This case study highlights the successful compromise Folk och Kultur achieved by using Hypersay Events digital events platform to host their Folk och Kultur 2022 event between February 9—11th.
Folk och Kultur's primary objective was to host a digital event which was both social and interactive for their +1000 attendees over the course of 3 separate days. The massive agenda contained over 100 different entries on 5 different stages, with events ranging in duration of 20 minutes to 1 hour with content covering politics, music, literature, dance, art, film, national minority rights, child rights, and covid related topics in a cultural context. To keep the audience entertained, music performances were also streamed.
With such a large agenda covering three separate days the risk was having the audience get lost in cyberspace and not be able to connect with the content.
For the event to be a success, it was paramount that both pre-recorded and live content 'come alive' for the attendees. For all live content, Folk och Kultur engaged a production team of tv-technicians, tv-producers and livestream producers that together built a television studio in the city of Eskilstuna to ensure perfection in sound, lighting and streaming. People on stage (presenters and MC's) were given access to the chat, thereby connecting the digital audience with presenters and content on stage. PowerPoint presentations were sometimes used but rehearsed for timing and presented in splits to avoid creating a distance between the presenter and the digital audience. The verbal dialogues between panellists and presenters became the main 'content'. The chat acted as an avenue to connect the audience with the content and presenters.
During the event, many live presenters used observations from the chat to enhance the conversation on stage. Live presentations from the studio became two-way dialogues with the digital audiences. The quality of the video production was close to perfection which made the entire event feel like a cinema event. The chat acted as the engagement glue for the digital audience to speak directly to each other and the presenters.
For pre-recorded content, the objective was to have a variety of content appear on stage at pre-scheduled times with a member of the Folk och Kultur team watching the chat for any conversation opportunities. Masking pre-recorded videos as 'live' content is impossible but complementing it with spontaneous background information brought an extra dimension to the videos. For example, in one 30-minute segment, while musicians and singers were performing songs on a cabaret set, the producers of the video were advertising their next upcoming gig and commenting on the beautiful costumes. Attendees' comments about the songs, the musicians, and the set made the whole session feel alive. Many pre-recorded segments were complemented with a host of the event introducing the event and/or taking questions after the video.
In the end, the 3-day event was a success due to Folk och Kultur and their chosen partners carefully planning, preparing, and supporting the event from inception to completion. It was never easy. Complex challenges kept coming but the technical solutions were always found. The surprise outcome was the change in attitude towards hosting an online event of this magnitude. The triangle of organiser/presenter/attendee folded together into a fluid communication channel that kept rotating for 3 days making the event feel very inclusive for everyone.
London, March 2022