. community —

Digital artists tool up

  • Deadline:
    March 16, 2003, 7:20 p.m.

from the Guardian –

Digital artists tool up

From humble beginnings a decade ago, Sheffield's digital arts festival has
become internationally renowned. But its reliance on public funding means
the future is uncertain, says Sean Dodson

The Lovebytes digital arts festival in Sheffield is the longest-running
event of its kind in Britain. Now in its 10th year, the festival has grown
from an afternoon of makeshift presentations in a converted garage, to a
six-week-long internationally renowned exhibition of digital art and culture
that climaxes next weekend.

Exit the main railway station, cross over the enormous roundabout and you
come to Sheffield's "cultural industries quarter" and the home of Lovebytes.
Marked out by the rise of the distinctive kettledrum building that once
housed the National Centre for Popular Music (now being refitted as a
Sheffield Hallam's student union), the area made up of Brown Street and
Paternoster Row forms a tight cluster of independent record labels, graphic
design companies, digital post-production studios and freelance computer
programmers. It is one of the densest concentrations of creative industries
outside London.

The quarter comes together with the onset of spring and the start of the
Lovebytes festival. Lovebytes is respected for being both accessible to
newcomers, and presenting challenging and experimental pieces of digital art
and culture. As well as exhibitions, there are talks, screenings and
nighttime electronic music happenings. Although the festival has the support
of Apple, there is a distinct lack of corporate branding about Lovebytes.
The festival remains relatively cheap and has always featured a number of
free events.

"We get a lot of people coming in who are interested in new technology but
would not be willing to pay