Digital Culture Awards promotional image in pale blue with pink patterns. Text reads: Celebrating digital and tech innovation in creativity and culture.

The Digital Culture Awards Digital Trailblazer category celebrates integration of digital technology into processes, systems, or other organisational structures resulting in measurable growth in efficiencies and digital skills or maturity within an organisation.

The 2022 Judge in this category was Transformation Leader Katz Kiely.

2022 Winner

National Student Drama Festival for ‘NSDF went online and welcomed in the world’

Long before most of the world had experienced their first “Zoom”, the National Student Drama Festival (NSDF) re-launched their annual festival, pivoting to host it entirely online, just two weeks after the first 2020 lockdown.

NSDF Digital Trailblazers short film

But this was a festival with a difference: an online room can be a ‘bigger room’, and this meant more than 10,000 people attended free online masterclasses from world leaders in the arts. After all, with a pandemic cancelling work across the world, a remarkable number of voices were free and keen to take part.

In the 18 months that followed, NSDF produced 503 online events reaching thousands of attendees across the world, increasing their annual participation by young artists.

Now, NSDF is an entirely repurposed organisation, using digital technology to become a producer of digital works and using partnerships to ensure anyone traditionally excluded from the arts can be at the heart of their new works.

How can you blaze a digital trail like the National Student Drama festival?

  • Dig into your organisation’s values, vision and mission. Are the activities you’re currently undertaking reaching the people you want to reach, helping you live out your mission? Or are you simply ‘doing what you’ve always done’?
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the big questions to artists or collaborators who seem out of reach. If you want to work together, reach out! You might be surprised at who is available and keen to be part of your projects.
  • Experiment with new platforms if they help you achieve your aims as an organisation. There’s no point in jumping on bandwagons for the sake of it, but if a new platform emerges (like Zoom!), think about how you can use it to your advantage to reach your target audience.

Since winning the 2022 Digital Trailblazer award, we have been delving even further into the intersection between our digital and live work. We hosted workshops, presented shows and talks digitally, reaching people that were still unable to be with us in person and reaching new audiences and participants.

National Student Drama Festival, 2022 Digital Transformation Winner

2022 Shortlist

2022 Longlist

  • Ascendance – A new digital strategy & integrated digital technology
  • Create (arts) Limited – Create Live!
  • Creation Theatre – Pivot of Drama Teaching and Professional Theatre production to digital
  • Open Sky Theatre – The Digitisation of Open Sky Theatre
  • Sadler’s Wells – Sadler’s Wells: Digital Stage and Beyond
  • Tribe Arts – Off/Stage Zine
  • Unicorn Theatre – Launch of Unicorn Online

Want to learn more about how you can be a digital trailblazer? Our network of Tech Champions can help.

Promotional image featuring the Digital Culture Awards, Arts Council and Digital Culture Network logos.