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4330Re: mind-blowing immersive visual music experiences - experience of

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  • Mario / Discovery Dome Europe
    Dec 17, 2013
      I hope Chris Hudson doesn't take this personally, but I have to strongly disagree with the spirit of his ramblings. 

      I've been managing planetariums for 15 years now and as far as I'm concerned, the reason fulldome art has yet to take off in digital planetariums is squarely due to a lack of will, passion and vision on the part of top management - usually fearful, conservative and unimaginative people with a science communication background. 

      It is not the fault of the 'unaware public' - that's easily addressed with committed marketing. 

      It is not because of 'the newness of fulldome' - this amazing new artistic medium, when introduced correctly to newcomers, always leaves them gagging for more.

      I'll cite some examples to support my statements and leave it at that (a prolonged clashing of horns on this issue is pointless as I - like a few others on here - have fulldome art businesses to run :-)

      PINK FLOYD - from May-Sep 2011 Thinktank Planetarium was the first UK dome to run the three Pink Floyd shows (thanks to Aaron McEwen and Sascha Kriegel making this possible). Initially we intended to run Pink Floyd for only three nights over the May 'Museums at Night' weekend. Yet, with next to no marketing support from Thinktank, and purely due to the efforts of the three members of the planetarium team and a handful of volunteers, Pink Floyd fulldome art exploded in Birmingham! 

      We had to continue adding performances every weekend until September, reaching a final total of 19 performances with 14 sold out (70 seats capacity). After all operating expenses and gate-share costs were covered, we made a profit of £4,000 for Thinktank.

      So why did we stop in September? Because I was called in and told 'Pink Floyd is not appropriate for a planetarium' and instructed to stop running the shows (I could expand on this of course, but there's no point).

      'Oh but wait' you say, 'this was Pink Floyd. People came because of Pink Floyd, not because of fulldome art'. 

      Erm...yes, but Pink Floyd is a MASSIVE hook for fulldome art. 

      People came to enjoy the music they loved - and in the process they DISCOVERED fulldome art ie. we introduced all our Pink Floyd shows with a brief description of the new medium and examples from Domefest, Jena and local artists. Note how this 'discovery of fulldome' is reflected in some of the 5-star TripAdvisor comments we received: 

      In fact, we received so many 5-star reviews, they rocketed Thinktank Planetarium to No. 1 in the Birmingham TripAdvisor rankings, where we remained for nearly a year.

      DOME CLUB - encouraged by the success of Pink Floyd, I pushed and pushed and pushed until in January this year I managed to launch Dome Club at Thinktank. The local artists that came along loved it. Local digital media students loved it. Local Arts Council England officials loved it (ACE - the national body that now oversees all museum in the UK, including science museums). We held a total of 28 events and you can see the rich variety of fulldome content we showed in the programmes here: http://bit.ly/domeclubprogrammes

      In fact, local ACE officials loved Dome Club so much, that (a) they sent me to Germany in May this year to learn from the German fulldome art community (and I prepared a 66-page report for them); and (b) when voicing my concerns about the future of Dome Club, they assured me that I and my team 'were definitely doing the right thing with the region's only digital dome'.

      I think I'll stop there, because what happened next is still very painful to relate.

      In my experience then, the biggest impediment to the fulldome medium is the institution that gave birth to it: the traditional planetarium in the context of a science museum. 

      The sooner fulldome art establishes itself in settings OTHER than planetariums, the better eg http://bit.ly/satosphere2

      I continue to believe in the magic of the fulldome medium and next month I'm re-launching Dome Club and Pink Floyd on my own (with some support from Go-Dome and Discovery Dome): http://domeclubuk.eventbrite.co.uk

      I owe it not only to myself to do this, but also to the fulldome artists and the growing number of Birmingham fulldome addicts.


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