[Festivals Stories] Sacrum Profanum Festival
The 2020 edition of the Sacrum Profanum Festival was its 18th. Through the years the festival has taken many forms, often evolving to best suit the ideas that would influence its identity. The Sars-CoV-2 pandemic has interrupted the usual work and set many challenges and unprecedented boundaries. But when a festival is presenting music that aims to subvert any preconceived notions about what a composition or a live show can be, additional obstacles can be also seen as a chance to grow.
The main idea behind transforming the Sacrum Profanum Festival into a purely online experience was to focus on the positive aspects and find solutions that would not only allow the festival to reach new people who couldn't attend before (because of time, distance, disability or financial issues) but to also experiment with form and look for new ways of expression, native to the medium of the internet.
The Sacrum Profanum Festival is organised by KBF, whose response to the pandemic was to launch PLAY KRAKÓW, a multimedia platform allowing for both live streaming and VOD services. It's one of the few niche streaming platforms that focus on heavily curated materials, working mostly with local partners and promoting local culture. In response to the overabundance of internet content, Sacrum Profanum was presented via the platform and social media in a "žslow" mode, extending its duration to whole month of November. This approach gave the audience time to digest presented works and also allowed for additional content to be presented via interviews, podcasts and writing.
Most of the festival productions presented were prerecorded. This allowed for a higher production standard than with a regular live stream - and to bring a concert recording closer to unique film production that would be attractive to a modern viewer, exhausted by the possibilities of choice that were often of poor quality and made people reluctant to engage with streaming content after the novelty had worn off. The festival was praised by the media for its early and bold decision to focus on an online edition and for presenting high quality material.
One show in particular was embracing the possibilities of the internet. The Kompozycja Paragrafowa event focused on PEnderSZATch, a composition by Piotr Peszat. Performed by Spółdzielnia Muzyczna, the piece followed the direction of the audience who voted online on their preferred outcomes. The result was unexpected and drew special attention to the live stream, reaching far beyond the usual Sacrum Profanum audience.
Some other shows, like Muzyka i Sport (Music & Sport), despite the lack of the body in streaming, focused solely on the physicality of the human body and sport activities, trying to convey it through music and vision. Exploring some of the aspects of human life that many people have lost due to lockdowns created an experience that resonated highly with the public, and was among some of the things most commented on about the festival.
More information: http://sacrumprofanum.com
(General Editor: Simon Mundy)
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