Culture is dead, long live culture

It was with great sadness that we read in September the Edinburgh International Film Festival and Edinburgh Filmhouse had gone into administration.

The Film Festival was one of O Street’s first big clients (back when Neil and I had more hair on our heads than on our chins). Using tactics we have embraced ever since, we combined strategy and creative exploration in the concept we pitched: a logo and campaign that focused on the magic of real cinema (‘Enlightened Cinema’ we called it!) putting FILM at the heart of their visual personality.

O Street David and Neil Light Write

It was also the project that cemented our long running friendship/working relationship with the magnificent photographer Peter Didbin. On a longshot for the pitch, we asked him to help us capture a new logo drawn in light using long exposure photography. I’m pretty sure showing them a movie of that exploration swung the decision at our interview.

O Street Peter Didbin EIFF Logo

What it really got me thinking about however was the way culture is changing in these post Covid lockdown, but still financially precarious times.

Cinema in itself is a whole artform in flux. On the one hand, blockbuster movies seem to be thriving over at Marvel and even indie movies like the magnificent ‘Everything, Everywhere all at once’ (if you haven’t seen it yet, what the hell are you doing?) seem to be becoming box office successes. But… there is no doubt a lot of people are watching a lot more movies at home. Venues that have rethought the experience seem to be weathering the storm with initiatives like the ones DIVE are working on at Everyman Cinemas, bringing brand partnerships to elevate the whole experience of going to the movies. Swapping stale popcorn and flat coke for dark chocolate and cocktails seems like something we should have had years ago! And if it doubles up as a way to advertise brands and improve marketing effectiveness, then maybe we can all be winners? Another long-term client of ours the Glasgow Film Festival is back with a fully live festival next year, we’re all excited about that since last year was a blast!

The post-pandemic dust feels like it’s not quite settled on the Live music scene yet. There are success stories, but with big acts canceling tours due to soaring energy costs at venues, it feels like it’s not exactly a safe bet. O Street pals Driift have recently announced a big investment from Deezer to expand their online concert offering. No one feels watching a gig online is the same as going to a venue, but you know what, I’d rather spend £5 and watch it at home with a nice bottle of beer than spend £100 and watch it on screens from the back of a stadium. The band The Smile’s show earlier in the year, with an intimate at venue audience alongside a live streamed online audience seemed like a brilliant compromise. And hey… who knows how this whole deal will change with the Metaverse or its equivalent leaps in supporting sound technology.

Dance Umbrella has just wrapped up its live and online modern dance festival. I caught the opening night with my family and it was amazing. The experience of going out in the big city on a dark night and being inspired and challenged and excited was a real blessing. It was a joy being able to share it with my children, who as a generation, have really lost out most during lockdown. The venue was a sell out, second night in a row. We had designed a printed programme for the whole festival. ‘How quaint’, you say, but they ran out of copies after the show! The audience were hungry for more information about the performances, or a way to remember this one.

I’d like to talk more about art galleries and digital art, but you know I think I’ve tested your patience enough (if you have read this far, thank you). So what’s my point?

Some culture is dying as a result of the turmoil over the last few years, there is no doubt. But, like the debate about our beloved Glasgow School of Art Mack Building, should we try and rebuild things the way they were? That building burning down two times in four years almost feels like an omen for a wider culture debate. We need Arts & Culture, that is not in question, it’s a vital part of life. But why not use these times to challenge the way we used to do things and explore new ways of sharing and exploring the arts? While still needing beautiful printed brochures of course!

O Street EIFF Cinema Cat
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