Caroline Friedman was working on creating Scenesaver when the pandemic closed theatres.
Scenesaver is the first ‘one-stop’ website where users can view footage of fringe performance; diverse shows and new work, whether it be drama, comedy, dance, children’s theatre, magic or musicals all in one place, online.
She decided to bring forward its launch to do something positive to help. Scenesaver was ready to go but it needed content and it needed users.
I’d worked with Caroline on organising an amazing community event earlier in the year and she rang me up to see if I’d be interested in helping, given my experience running websites and social media campaigns. It was right at the beginning of the UK ‘lockdown’, I didn’t have much work on and it piqued my interest. Here was an opportunity to work on a start up, passion project that had echoes of the early days of Londonist. Of course I said yes.
From launching at the start of May to end of August….
From zero to 200+ performances on the platform.
From zero to 1,067 Twitter followers and counting.
From zero to many brilliant press mentions and supportive tweets from new admirers, including Zoë Wanamaker.
From zero to being shortlisted as a finalist in the UK IT Industry Awards for Technology Excellence, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award 2020.
Update October 12: Scenesaver has been awarded a Gold dotCOMM award and a Bronze Stevie Award for most valuable pandemic response.
So, what’s it all about?
Scenesaver is an entertainment hub for people missing the live theatre experience, making talented emerging artists and small theatre work accessible to new audiences, to people who would never normally have the opportunity to see this work.
It provides a revenue stream for creatives unable to work during lockdown – users are asked to pay a virtual ticket price donation and 100% of this money goes to the creatives. Some users have been very generous.
It is the host site for the OnComm awards, established to encourage creatives to make new work in the digital medium and get it seen.
Accessibility is a key priority for the website and creatives are encouraged to submit subtitled, audio-described and signed versions of their work.
When Fringe Festivals had to cancel live performances and go digital, Caroline reached out and offered Scenesaver as an alternative platform for their creatives and performers, an opportunity to reach people beyond the local festival area, e.g. Wandsworth Arts Fringe and Reading Fringe.
We are building a community of creatives and theatre-lovers. Scenesaver’s blog features personal stories from many theatrical creatives impacted by the pandemic and helpful articles about how to create, record, subtitle and audio describe performances. Our Twitter actively engages with theatre lovers, creatives and the wider industry. We are building a community around the brand.
When theatres reopen Scenesaver will continue to grow and ensure that people who have previously been deprived of the opportunity to see fantastic innovative, cutting edge performance, whether it be for reasons of disability, finance, work commitments, childcare or geography will not have to miss out on experiencing these shows.
The unique platform will help many creatives and venues make their performances accessible to a wider audience and provide an archive record and educational resource for the long-term. A new generation of theatre creatives will learn from this unique resource.
Scenesaver is committed to Making Little Theatre Big and accessible to all.
It’s free to register and watch performances on Scenesaver. Find out more at scenesaver.co.uk