Sauce had been working on an app to complement the traditional festival, which was to include key information such as the dates, times and the locations of performances for visitors to enjoy.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the traditional outdoor event but organisers were determined the festival would go ahead as an interactive online experience.
Our brief quickly changed to developing a platform through which audiences could digitally access acts they would previously have been able to see in person.
The arts trust was also particularly keen to improve engagement with its audience, including feedback on performances, in order to inform and influence future festivals.
We were working closely with Freedom Festival Arts Trust on the original app when the UK went into lockdown and it soon became clear we had to plan for a very different festival.
With our flexible, “agile” method of working, we were able to swiftly adapt as circumstances changed.
We worked collaboratively with the trust to deliver an app that would not only be able to host the 2020 digital festival, but also deliver on a long-term objective to improve and enhance audience engagement.
The digital Freedom Festival 2020, dubbed “Freedom at Home”, took place from Friday, September 4 to Sunday, September 6. Users of the intuitive app were able to view live streams and videos of recorded performances, as well as participate in interactive podcasts and talks by posting their questions and views.
The app also utilised push notifications, enabling organisers to get feedback and gauge opinion from users. More than 24,000 performance views were recorded over the course of the weekend and, crucially, the app will now allow Freedom to engage more with their audience over the longer term.
Organisers have announced the app will be used to deliver online events throughout the year, rather than just over the traditional festival weekend. Freedom Festival Arts Trust will stage a performance via the app whenever it is deemed most appropriate, the content and timing of which can be influenced by users.
It will also help Freedom reach people who may struggle to attend future outdoor festivals in Hull, including those suffering from ill health, the elderly and people who live outside the city who are unable to travel.
The app has helped to reinvent Freedom Festival to become an interactive, digital experience that will bring arts and culture direct to people’s homes all year round.
- Mikey Martins, Artistic Director and Joint Chief Executive, Freedom Festival Arts Trust