There is change in the air. 

We can thankfully begin to socialise with others, share experiences and sense the hope of our return to the stage. What's more, we are feeling some of the positive outcomes of our lockdown at Scottish Ballet. Among many things, we can point to our growing confidence in reaching audiences and supporters well beyond our stage and our borders.

Since our pioneering Digital Season in 2017, we have been growing and sharing our creativity through digital distribution and the development of our audience base. In the last year, we have added NHS participants from our Health at Hand™ initiative, members who have signed up for free to watch our latest raft of innovative films, donors who have stepped up to ensure we can continue to create new work, stakeholders who have supported our dancers and staff to stay connected and focused during the rollercoaster of lockdowns. All of these people are our audience now. An interconnected group from across the world who can share in any part of Scottish Ballet’s journey.

A still from short film Haud Close Tae Me, created as part of our inaugural Digital Season in 2017. Credit Eve McConnachie

Our investment in on-screen dance has been an area of creative interest for many years and through this, we have discovered the ability to integrate our working across departments, inviting diversity of thought into our processes but, most importantly, the ability to further what we can say with dance and the scope of who we can share this with. We have let go of the notion of standalone ‘digital’ output and recognise that creating work that embraces life on and beyond our stages necessitates interdepartmental working behind the scenes along with joined-up thinking about our audience journey. It is no longer anyone’s job to be the digital person – it is a skillset and responsibility we must all cultivate. We see our audience members, both present and potential, do not separate out a digital existence from their everyday lives. It is now an integrated part of our lives and therefore our art form. Our focus on building artistic experiences for stage and screen also shapes our future fundraising and engagement activities where the combined reach can be greater and significantly more diverse.

Having a Scottish Ballet on-screen presence across a variety of digital platforms gives greater access to dance, helping to eliminate some of the barriers which are inherent in a theatre setting. Our reach has expanded well beyond the cities of our regular touring venues. 50% of the audience for our first feature film The Secret Theatre came from outside Scotland. A third of the audience had never seen SB on stage or screen before. Furthermore, the artistic challenge to choreographers, dancers and directors is fostering an exciting collaborative spirit in an age where diversity of experience and thought is a necessary and valuable part of the creative process.

On Set Of Scottish Ballets First Feature Film The Secret Theatre

At Scottish Ballet, we knew that dancers at home don’t stop moving; with theatres being closed, creativity would not stop. Creating work to be shared on-screen has been vital in keeping the artistic dialogue and reflection with society, through newly commissioned films such as IndoorsThe Secret TheatreDive and Odyssey, our engagement work with frontline NHS and social care workers with Health at Hand™, and our programme of workshops which promote inclusion, particularly aimed at young people, Safe to be Me™.

The thrust of our creativity into the digital space has brought with it an even greater sense of responsibility and accountability. The more people we reach, the more our art is required to demonstrate relevance, engage inclusively and inspire far beyond the stage. Support for our evolving digital strategy from John Ellerman Foundation has enabled us to continue building a global community around the distinctive content and experiences we create. Without the Foundation’s support we could not keep up the pace with the developments in this area, and we are extremely grateful for their multi-year investment in us.

If you'd like to come with us on this journey and be part of our growing community then sign up to become a Member for free today.