One of the few positive things to come out of the COVID pandemic was the feeling that as a creative sector, we were all feeling each other’s pain and were able to reach out, share experiences and offer support as the various lockdowns took their toll.
We certainly got the opportunity to speak with people we’d never picked up the Zoom link to a few months before because we were too busy – or technically they were in some way a competitor and it might have felt like a conflict of interest.
During 2020 we started a small incubator project which we called the Immersive Entertainment Network. The plan was to offer help and support to new immersive creators wanting to explore and develop ideas for new shows.
So what is the Immersive Entertainment Network for?
For us, this offered us two huge opportunities. Firstly, to meet and support some of the most interesting and talented new immersive creators, and secondly, so that when brands and PR companies came to us with an idea they wanted to execute for a big brand activation or campaign, we knew exactly the right people who we could bring in to deliver it for them.
We carried out an extensive survey with over 100 Immersive creators and some things that we discovered were:
- There are some amazing ideas and talent floating around, they just need connections and opportunities to flourish.
- There are lots of groups of people doing amazing work, but it’s all pretty silo’ed with each group having to learn the same lessons as everyone else.
- Whilst it’s a competitive environment and people understandably want to keep some of their secrets close to their chest, there is also an openness to wanting to network and collaborate with others.
- The Immersive sector as a genre falls in between all sorts of gaps in traditional funding streams and organisations set up to advocate, offer guidance and support.
So our incubator evolved into The Immersive Entertainment Network, a project that we’re hoping to launch officially in 2022 with three key strands.
1 – Network – Build a supportive and collaborative community of creators and create an online space where people can find each other, share knowledge and foster collaboration.
2 – Industry – Support the commercial development of the sector by commissioning and publishing research on its growth and expansion, seeking funding and partnerships to fuel growth.
3 – Education – Create and publish resources to aid the marketing of immersive experiences, and further resources for creators trying to develop new work.
Why is this important?
More than ever we believe that collaboration is going to be key to the continued growth of the Immersive Entertainment sector in the UK and internationally, not least in helping set audience expectations when they are deciding to buy a ticket for something which advertises itself as ‘immersive’. The term is only loosely defined at the moment, and is the favourite marketing buzzword for everything, so how to get your audience to understand that your immersive experience is completely different to that other one they went to and hated?
If for their first taste, someone has a sub-par experience, their nose will be turned, and they won’t come back.” – Andrea Moccia (Secret Cinema Producer)
If we could collaborate as a sector to try and define experiences better and set our audiences expectations before they arrive, then the research shows that they will enjoy it more and subsequently positively impact sales. It might also allow us to better market experiences with the “if you liked X then you’re going to love Y” model. The team behind the Immersive Industry Report 2020 have already been playing with these concepts in the US and have conceptualised a rating system similar to the EPC games rating labels; I personally doubt something as prescriptive as this will work in the UK, but it’s an interesting concept.
This is just a small example where collaboration could lead to better outcomes for everyone involved. It would also help define who our target audiences are, and produce commercial data that then helps attract future funding. There are many more examples, ranging from shared resources to shared spaces which could be the difference between experiences being profitable, or even happening at all.
Join us, and let’s explore together.
We’re working through the research, exploring funding opportunities and speaking to as many people as possible about how this network should be structured, what it’s priorities should be and how it should roll out. Our main mantra is that we don’t want to replicate anything else that other people are currently offering, we’d prefer to partner with them and support them in the amazing work they are already doing.
If you are interested in joining with us on this adventure, either as a member, founding partner or in a strategic partnership then please do get in touch.