Skip to content

Digital Catapult and Arts Council England announce 20 teams joining latest round of CreativeXR

Posted 7 Jul 2020

CreativeXR, the programme from Digital Catapult and Arts Council England to support the creation of new cultural experiences using immersive technology (XR), will go ahead as planned in 2020, providing much-needed investment in the creative industries. A record 260 teams applied to join CreativeXR’s third round which asked applicants to come up with original immersive ideas, in particular those which would respond to the restrictions in place as a result of Covid-19. The 20 selected teams based across the UK will begin the programme remotely in July.

Started in 2017 by Digital Catapult and Arts Council England, CreativeXR encourages teams to test the boundaries of how immersive technology can be used and experienced. The annual programme offers teams the freedom to realise new forms of art, storytelling and entertainment using content delivered through virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), haptics (technology which simulates the experience of touch) or audio-based technologies. Each team receives £20,000 in funding each alongside intensive mentoring and technical support to create a prototype.

Many of the chosen teams for 2020 will create at-home experiences to be accessed by audiences on their phones or computers. Several projects respond directly to the restrictions of social distancing: will create a multiplayer AR game experienced as a live video call. Fred Deakin will also use AR to develop a live concert experience projected onto a tabletop pop-up stage, and Raucous will literally deliver their experience straight to people’s homes, with objects sent in the post that will trigger a new episode of their story watched via a mobile app.

Several of the projects address topical social and political issues – from a VR experience set in an unlicensed South London club which offered a safe space to the African-Caribbean community, to the challenges of climate change. Satore Studio and Borough Productions will develop a musical performance charting the relationship between Trump and his communications platform of choice Twitter, which has been reimagined for the virtual world whilst West End theatres remain closed. Meanwhile English Touring Theatre will develop an immersive courtroom drama based on first-hand experiences of 11 years of austerity in Britain, enhancing the performance through the Nreal AR glasses.

As in previous rounds, this year’s projects incorporate a diverse selection of technologies with a range of cultural disciplines, including dance, music and documentary filmmaking. CreativeXR’s third round will culminate in November with a virtual Showcase event, allowing teams to secure further investment and commissions in order to make their experience accessible to the public.

CreativeXR 2020 will seek to replicate the success of its first two years, which saw teams secure over £2.7m in investment, garner critical acclaim at Tribeca Film Festival, and partner with top cultural institutions on content which they would be unable to develop independently. This year the programme welcomes assistance from two new contributors: Epic Games and StoryFutures Academy. Aligned to its goal of growing the XR industry, Epic Games has generously awarded CreativeXR with an Epic MegaGrant, which will be used to support eight projects built using Epic’s Unreal Engine. StoryFutures Academy will bring narrative storytelling expertise, and mentor five companies in story development, design and continuing narrative through a number of workshops and masterclasses.

Dr Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult said: “The third cohort for CreativeXR, run with Arts Council England, is more diverse and inclusive than in previous years. It’s also more tightly engaged with contemporary themes such as climate change, anti-racism and the social media commentary of populist leaders. The cohort’s prototypes will give us an intriguing glimpse into future ways of storytelling. Chosen from over 250 applicants, each of the 20 in the cohort will rise to the challenge of finding a new format to create a compelling experience with dramatic, comedic and downright provocative themes.”

Francis Runacres, Executive Director of Enterprise and Innovation at Arts Council England, said: “Covid-19 has demonstrated the power of digital technology to help us stay connected, with millions of people using online cultural experiences to enjoy the benefits of creativity amid the isolation of lockdown. We need to do everything we can to support new forms of expression that address the restraints of social distancing, so we’re delighted to be investing in the next round of CreativeXR with Digital Catapult.”

The twenty projects selected to join CreativeXR 2020 are:

  • (Hi)story of a Painting by Gaëlle Mourre and Quentin Darras – An educational series which builds storyworlds around iconic works of art.
  • #CorpTopia by – An AR multiplayer game set in a parallel world of human-animal species.
  • #TrumpsTower by Satore Studio and Borough Productions – A musical drama tracing the intense relationship between one man and his digital surrogate.
  • A Place to Be by Independent Film Trust – A 360 ̊ VR experience set in a South London shebeen.
  • Austerity On Trial by English Touring Theatre – An immersive courtroom drama examining the human impact of austerity measures.
  • Blood Speaks: Maya – The Birth of a Superhero by Just Another Production Company – An immersive story following a girl’s transformation into a uniquely female superhero.
  • Bodymapping by Hatsumi – A webVR experience enabling people to communicate the experience of pain and emotion through 3D drawing.
  • Child of Empire by Project Dastaan – An interactive VR docufiction based on the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan.
  • Dracula Immersed by Davy & Kristin McGuire – The world’s first augmented reality pop-up book reimagining the classic gothic story.
  • Future Rites by Alexander Whitley, Sandra Rodriguez and Normal Studio – An immersive and collaborative performance experience based on the seminal ballet The Rite Of Spring.
  • IamMUSIC by KRAKED and Associated Industries – A creative tool which turns the process of making audiovisual art into a physical experience, using the body to generate sound and light.
  • Munkination – A Second Chance by Visualise & Royal Opera House – An immersive hiphop/opera presenting an Afro- futuristic adventure story about climate change.
  • New World by Forest Tribe Theatre – An immersive world created using live-streaming, music, theatre and human connection.
  • REBOOT by AΦE – An immersive performance based on the true story of Matheryn Naovaratpong, the youngest human to be cryogenized.
  • by Sammy Lee, M.J. Harding, Cream Projects and Off World Live – A documentary about the global phenomenon of K-pop, experienced as a 360 live stream.
  • Story Portals by YonderBeyond – A physical pop-up building which becomes home to multiple stories and characters through the power of AR.
  • The Foundling by Raucous – A tabletop theatre show combining fairytale and fact, designed as a prequel to a live immersive theatre experience.
  • Transportalists by FANDCO – A live concert brought into the audience’s home through mixed reality.
  • extraordinary people – extraordinary places by ScanLAB Projects – A narrative experience about the relationship between people and their place of ‘work’.
  • Passion Animation Studios – Tales of the Wild is a VR love letter to the plant life of planet earth. It is unique encounter with Nature herself; an interactive and embodied experience that shows we have more in common with plants than we think.