Live streaming a literary festival

by | Feb 10, 2021

Norway has been less affected by Covid-19 than most countries, but even so the pandemic is a constant threat to live culture of all sorts. Bergen International Literature Festival decided to go all in on streaming when the recent lockdown made a festival in front of a live audience impossible.

Bergen House of Literature – which is our venue – has been doing hybrid events with a combination of physical and virtual tickets for quite some time now. They have the infrastructure to do glass to glass productions installed, so we were able to act fast when the city closed down. The announcement from the local government came last Sunday, and the next day we were ready to go digital,” said head of marketing for Bergen International Literature Festival, Yngve Knausgård.

This quick turnaround three days before the opening of a major literature festival showcasing high-quality non-fiction and fiction from across the globe shows how fast it is possible to act when the productions are easy adaptable to a digital format.

“Some of our events were planned as hybrid events from the start, with a mixture of physical and virtual tickets due to an expected higher demand than our physical capacity. So, we did not start from scratch when we decided to go digital rather than cancel. And we soon discovered that even if we were capable of streaming, a festival in the midst of a lockdown has a lot of challenges.

“The travel ban makes travels to Bergen impossible both from abroad and from other parts of Norway, such as Oslo. This has led to some cancellations, whilst other events will be solved partly from a studio set up for us at The House of Literature in Oslo and partly via Zoom calls,” said Mr Knausgård.

Bergen International Literature Festival has decided to split its events between a ticketed and a free programme, with the ticketed events hosted at TicketCo Media Services and the free events streamed via YouTube.

“To ensure the festival feeling we will only do live streaming. There will be no video on demand available, so you have to tune in and watch the events live, or else you will miss out. Besides the festival feeling, this decision is also based on rights issues. On the other hand there will be no geo restrictions in the viewer end. You will be able to tune in and attend no matter in which country you are,” said the festival head of marketing.

He guarantees a highly engaging festival.

“We have a great programme and an amazing list of authors, and they are all eager to conquer the digital format.”

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Written by Tom Rasmussen

Chief Communication Officer at TicketCo. Experienced public relations adviser and strategic narrativ creator with a broad background as promotor, manager and producer from the arts and entertainment industry. Also background from publishing and public administration. Hibernating novelist and retired drummer.

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