The good news: a broad audience exists for meaningful, creative virtual reality content
The less good news: a sustained pipeline of the content they want doesn’t
Dear friends of Limina,
We wanted to share with you that our pilot of a dedicated VR theatre is coming to an end this month. After a fantastic summer with heaps of sold-out shows we are confident that – with the right content, marketing and exhibition style – audience demand exists in abundance. We are thrilled to now know the factors that determine if a piece of VR content will draw in mainstream audiences or not. Now we know the sort of content audiences want, the bittersweet fact is we also know there is not enough of this kind of content coming through to sustain a venue for a long-term lease.
Our broader industry take-away is that there is opportunity in the cultural VR cinema model – however, that opportunity cannot be unlocked unless more ‘gateway’ content is funded and produced. ‘Gateway’ content is content that works for broader audiences who are new to VR. Without more gateway content, the sector will continue preaching to the converted.
Our goal with the dedicated venue pilot was to hone our understanding of the kind of VR content that mainstream audiences want, whilst testing the viability of a potential longer-term VR cinema model. This is what we have done, and our discoveries over the past six months have been invaluable. We can’t thank our supporters, team, university partners, Watershed and audience enough.
Our last weekend of our dedicated venue pilot on Bristol’s Harbourside will be October 13th.
As you can imagine, we feel it is a matter of urgency that we share our learnings with the creative and tech industries.
Our next moves are:
- To take an exemplar show that embodies our learnings on a UK tour. This will be the dazzling World of Cirque du Soleil show. A tour enables us to keep bringing VR to broader audiences, and to demonstrate to industry folks around the country what ‘gateway’ content is and how to run a VR cinema with the upmost duty of care. We will announce dates soon. If you are interested in working with us on this, as a host venue or sponsor, do get in touch.
- To share our learnings about what audiences do want. We are holding two summits later this month where we will do this – one in Bristol and one in London. If you’d like to find out more about attending, please let me know. If you’d like us to come to you directly and spend a day sharing what we have learned in a more tailored way, again, please get in touch. The researchers we have worked with at UWE’s MBA and Kings College are also available to share the results of their learnings with the emerging industry.
Of course we will continue to take bookings for pop-ups; we are keen to continue bringing our VR Theatre to audiences at events and festivals.
Again, we want to thank the wonderful creators we have worked with, our advisors, our incredible venue team and, of course, our partners – Watershed, Encounters Festival, Storyfutures, UWE, The High Commission of Canada in the UK, Oceans Festival 19, Kings College, The University of Brighton and The University of Warwick.
We are optimistic that VR will become something normal for the public to do as part of a day or evening out. But, as an industry, we have to close the audience feedback loop first.
All the best, and thank you friends of Limina for your continued support
Catherine & Chris