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Academics and creative firms join together to showcase work

Times Higher Education reviews REACT By Matthew Reisz

AHRC-funded festival flags up an astonishing variety of collaborative projects.
There were many strange things to be seen when “a three-day festival of arts, humanities and new ideas” took over the complex consisting of Bristol’s old fire station, magistrates’ court and police station earlier this month.

In a pop-up cemetery, people chalked up their preferred epitaphs: “She got shit done”, “A plot at last” or “Here be maggot food”. A specially created library featured initiatives exploring the future of the book, while a bedroom gave people an opportunity to design their own “intimate objects”.
Outside in a playground and enchanted garden one could find a rocket, a wonky Wendy house and a swing that put on a dramatic lighting display as soon as one sat down on it. Inside the buildings, one could visit a little theatre to listen to recorded memories of actors, audiences and staff at the Bristol Old Vic.

The Rooms festival showcased a total of about 50 projects. All were created by academics and creative businesses, usually working in digital technologies, and nurtured and supported by REACT (Research and Enterprise in Arts and Creative Technology).

“Technology, academics and creative businesses are an interesting mix and may not be doing the kind of things you expect them to be doing,” says REACT director Jon Dovey, professor of screen media at UWE.
“The whole point was to create a new network of relationships. There are a whole lot of academics across the five universities and a whole lot of people in creative businesses who now know how to talk to each other, have interesting ideas in common, and can create projects or bids to make an impact in the world.”

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