Opening doors: A new digital paradigm - 9 September, 2021

British Council's Festival Connections at Ars Electronica 2021


Panel Discussion


09 September, 2021 | 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm IST | Digital Event



As host of the Ars Electronica Mumbai Garden in 2021, the Art X Company curated a panel discussion, revolving around unboxing the impact of digital technologies in the festival circuit in India.

This event was a part of British Council's ongoing Festival Connections series, which has focused on building a platform for discussion, engagement, knowledge sharing, and peer learning for the Indian cultural festivals sector since August 2019; in partnership with Arts and Culture Resources India (ACRI) and Art X Company.

Opening doors: A new digital paradigm

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The event brought together arts professionals from various parts of the world to observe and discuss the impact of digital technologies in the festival circuit in India. The session looked at four key areas within this impact, which were Access, Innovation, Collaboration, and Futures. To address these points, four panelists were brought together, namely, Avinash Kumar, Co-founder, Quicksand; Sudhanva Deshpande, Executive Director, Studio Safdar; Karan Talwar, Founder, Harkat Studios; and Beki Bateson, independent creative professional; in a session moderated by Rashmi Dhanwani, Founder-Director, The Art X Company.

Each of the speakers put forward their thoughts and ideas in the form of short presentations, during which audience members were encouraged to ask questions, to be taken up at the end of the discussion.

The first panelist to take the stage was Sudhanva Deshpande who drew from his experience of doing street theatre and to talk about the challenges as well as unexplored possibilities that come up while shifting to online platforms. He highlighted the ways in which it was difficult for an institution like Studio Safdar to completely depend on digital tools as they function in a neighbourhood where internet access is restricted and unequal. This brought up a lot of questions about digital barriers, especially in a country like India, resulting in the constant need for innovative thinking in order to ensure the sustainability of such spaces. Next up was Karan Talwar, who started by discussing the thought process that went into deciphering what the online space meant for Harkat Studios and the resultant innovations that were initiated to ensure that artistic expressions continued to flow.

After access and innovation, Beki Bateson was invited to talk about global collaborations in the digital age. She spoke about her efforts to create meaningful relationships through a multitude of projects and the kind of impact this could have, keeping in mind the pros and cons of online platforms. The final panelist, Avinash Kumar, gave the audience an insight into what the digital future looks like for Indian art and heritage, using video games, graphic novels, innovative exhibits, etc. while keeping the love for culture and community engagement in the forefront.


The session came to an end with a panel discussion, followed by a Question and Answer round with audience members.