Born in Brazil, Andre Portasio was a dancer with English National Ballet before setting up ArtStreamingTV Ltd, a new live stream production company and digital platform dedicated to arts, dance and cultural communities, providing live coverage of cultural events and the dissemination of on-demand content. A keen member of Dance UK, it was Andre who filmed and live streamed Dance UK’s Framing the Future event on 16 September.
In an interview with Laura Dodge, Dance UK’s Communications and Membership Officer, Andre describes why giving arts and cultural organisations a digital platform is so important.
Andre, tell me a little bit about yourself and your background.
I was born in Brazil and started dancing at the age of 10 under the guidance of Natalia Barbara. I was then granted a scholarship to the Cuban National Ballet School and later a Nureyev Foundation Scholarship to conclude my studies at English National Ballet School in London, where I have been residing since 1998. After graduating, I was selected to join English National Ballet (ENB) and performed both nationally and internationally to great critical acclaim for over a decade. Unfortunately, halfway through my career as a dancer, I had a bad accident whilst performing and it resulted in me having several knee operations and ultimately forced me out of action.
However, dance and all things cultural are my passion and a big part of my life so I felt strongly that I could still contribute to them in a different capacity. It was then I made a conscious decision to resign as dancer and go back to university to gain the necessary qualifications to support my professional transition. I undertook an Arts Management course at Birkbeck University and last year was granted a Master Degree in Culture, Policy and Management from City University.
From there, I worked with a diverse range of cultural organisations and up and coming choreographers that lead me to understand some of the problems they faced over dissemination, development and engagement of new audiences. These challenges in turn inspired to look at digital technologies and find ways to help minimise these issues faced by the sector. It was then that ArtStreamingTV was born!
So, what is ArtStreamingTV and what does it do?
ArtStreamingTV is the first European live stream production company and digital platform of its kind. It’s dedicated to arts, dance and cultural communities providing live coverage of cultural events and the dissemination of on-demand content.
Using the highest specification technology, ArtStreamingTV can deliver a diverse and wide range of cultural projects to audiences worldwide. It aims to help organizations reach wider audiences and provides the possibility for developing new funding streams.
At ArtStreamingTV, we strongly believe digital content is a way forward to direct respond to globalised markets. Our experiences so far shows that viewers are accessing content in countries such as the UK, USA, Spain, Malaysia, Unite Arab, Germany, Argentina, Tunisia to mention just a few.
Our services also include all things cultural that goes beyond just artistic content. We cover educational works, conference and talks, award ceremonies, premieres, festivals, marketing and even fundraising activities. The later might be a new(ish) concept but if we thing about it, most fundraising galas currently offers exclusive dinner parties which only a very few can afford to attend – this represents only a tiny proportion of an organisation's total audience numbers. If we consider that fundraising can be achieved at all levels, live streaming can also contribute to the diversification and democratisation of funds and play an important role in achieving resilience in difficult times. From an audience point of view, our services offers numerous benefits – travel costs, locality constraints, time, ticket limitations and so on, are no longer restrictions. Our aim is to make the service as accessible as possible.
Dance UK’s Framing the Future was one of your first events to be live streamed. How did you feel it went?
It was an invaluable opportunity for the whole team. We can’t thank everyone at Dance UK enough for this opportunity! This was the first time the whole team was involved and delivered a complex and detailed event. The experience allowed us to showcase the team’s strength and ability to deliver elaborate proceedings. It gave us the confidence to continue looking for ways to improve and refine all aspects of our service.
I’ve adopted the most advanced technology in the market today, but like all things it takes practice to refine it. Working in partnership with Dance UK allowed us to continue assessing our exiting model and adapt it to suit real needs and requirements both from our client and audience feedback.
Live streaming presents its own set of challenges, for example it can’t be edited in advance… As a dancer of course I learned to deal with the risks and emotions of live events – every time I went on stage, regardless of the intense level of preparation, I never knew what would happen! Directing a live event is the same; it requires similar skills and emotional control. But besides all the technical details, the Framing the Future event also helped demonstrate that the concept offered really works! It successfully increased audience numbers by 50%. We were all over the moon with the results achieved!
Do you think your background as a dancer has helped in your new career?
Yes, totally! Dance taught me to be disciplined and focused, to pay attention to detail and to work under pressure. These are all transferable skills and knowledge. Also, being a dancer gave me an in-depth knowledge of how productions are developed and the different structures they can take, as well as giving me the sensitivity to protect and retain artistic integrity of works. My vision for ArtStreamingTV is to work with artists and stream artistic works in their entirety without modifying intention or undermining artistic integrity.
How have you managed to make ArtStreamingTV such a success so quickly?
We are still far from being successful but we are certainly on track with our development goals. Our achievements to date are due to a lot of hard work but also because we created a business model that responds directly to the needs and requirements of the sector. Live streaming isn’t a new concept and some of the bigger organisations are doing it already exceptionally well. For example, the Royal Opera House is one of the pioneers in this area with successful streaming and live programming in cinemas worldwide. What ArtStreamingTV is doing is making live streaming less exclusive and more democratic with readily affordable and engaging solutions for the whole of sector. Our services are for everyone.
What is coming up next for ArtStreamingTV?
Our next major live streaming is in partnership with English National Ballet School to celebrate the school’s 25th anniversary this year. We aim to provide audiences with a unique insight into a typical day, showcasing the school’s curriculum over their three year training programme. It’s aimed at prospective students who are unable to attend open day events, but it’s open to everyone, so if you would like to catch it, tune in on 28 November at 5pm at www.artstreamingtv.com!
For information about ArtStreamingTV and all future events being streamed, visit www.artstreamingtv.com