“A few years ago I agreed to go to Finland to start a new collaboration with a local university not knowing what I was getting myself into. That led to many exciting remote theatre projects between the students of Coventry University in the UK and the University of Tampere”, Tom Gorman tells his story to inspire others to sometimes simply say yes to the unknown and figure it out later.

That quickly became the unofficial theme of this year’s Network Performing Arts Production Workshop (NPAPW18) that took place on 24-26 April at the New World Centre in Miami, USA. Inspired by presentations and stories like Tom’s, participants from all over the world brainstormed on how the advanced networks and technology can be used for performing arts and education and exchanging contacts for further collaborations.

The NPAPW is an annual event organised jointly by GÉANT and Internet2 in which attendees learn about technologies utilising advanced networks to enable arts instruction and performance. The first one took place 15 years ago, but it is far from becoming irrelevant. The Programme Committee of this year’s event focused mainly on outreach – to new geographical regions, new disciplines, and new spaces where performing arts could benefit from the technology and network available. And what a success it was!

First of all, over 1/3 of the participants came from countries and regions previously not represented at these workshops, such as South America (Uruguay), Northern Europe (Finland and Estonia) and the Eastern Partnership countries. Secondly, in addition to the more traditional applications in music and dance, this time more attention was paid to theatre. The opening theatre performance featured two players, one in Miami and one in Tampere, performing together on a virtual stage. Finally, the workshop participants heard about how technology and advanced networks can be used in unconventional spaces, such as classroom in schools of Chattanooga, Tennessee or museums in Uruguay and other Latin America countries, creating new exciting opportunities for education and international collaboration.

At the end of this year’s workshop the organisers invited the participants to think of a new name for the workshop to replace the clunky title, Network Performing Arts Production Workshops and the unpronounceable abbreviation NPAPWS (nicknamed Puppy Paws). A total of 34 ideas were put forward; these will be reviewed very soon – so stay tuned … and just say yes!

To find out more visit the NPAPWS website.