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festivalslab is part of Festivals Edinburgh, the umbrella organisation which works on behalf of the twelve major Edinburgh festivals and represents their shared strategic interests.  The twelve festivals we work with and for are:

  • Bank of Scotland Imaginate Festival
  • Edinburgh Art Festival
  • Edinburgh Festival Fringe
  • Edinburgh’s Hogmanay & New Year’s Party
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival
  • Edinburgh International Festival
  • Edinburgh International Film Festival
  • Edinburgh International Science Festival
  • Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
  • Edinburgh Mela
  • Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
  • Scottish International Storytelling Festival

It is managed by the multi-skilled Festivals Edinburgh team, led by freelance innovation producer Rohan Gunatillake and supported by the inaugural geek-in-residence Ben Werdmuller.

Where did the idea for the Lab came from?

In late 2009, Festivals Edinburgh carried out an exercise where all of the festivals were interviewed about their ambitions for and their relationship to digital technology.  A couple of important findings came out of that study:

  1. There were lots of good ideas within the festival teams
  2. Given the diversity, scale and profile of the festivals, Edinburgh represented an exciting space to test new ideas
  3. The festivals’ day-jobs are to put on amazing cultural events and therefore they didn’t always have the time, skills or awareness of digital trends to best take advantage of their potential

So festivalslab was initiated as an answer to these challenges.

Ok, so where are the white coats?

When we think about a lab, we often think about labcoats and test-tubes.  But at the heart of any lab is new ideas,  experimentation and reporting – and the same is true here.  And while not a physical place, we like to summarise the lab as being made up five related elements:

  1. Projects – these are the most obvious outputs – prototype projects which use digital technology to create new value for audiences, for artists, for the festival business themselves, for partners and for Edinburgh.
  2. Processes – how are ideas identifies, what makes a good idea and how will they be delivered?  These processes which will include events, challenges and calls for ideas will form the crucial skeleton of the Lab
  3. Network –  because nowadays, you’re only as good as your network.  The festivals will not be able to realise their ambitions by themselves and so the Lab is inviting individuals, communities and companies to get involved
  4. People – it is important that this initiative has an impact on the people who spend their time making the festivals as great as they are
  5. Learning – the twelve festivals represent a microcosm of the cultural sector in Scotland and therefore there will be a lot of learning to share