Hi, This is Jamie-Lee O’Donnell and I will be reading a story for Gratitude, a wonderful public art installation, which commemorates and celebrates the stories of this extraordinary moment in time and pays tribute to all of our key workers from across the country.
Theatres closed across the globe during the Covid pandemic, leaving audiences and creatives confined at home and separated from what they love to do the most. It inspired a fresh approach for The Met, in Bury, which collaborated with new night-time venues fund and live event platform United We Stream to keep everyone entertained. A key facilitator in this valuable project was Chris McClung, The Met’s technical manager, here’s his story…
UNITED, WE STREAM – BY CHRIS MCCLUNG
I’ve worked at The Met for MANY years but this collaboration has to have been one of the most important projects I’ve ever worked on.
Audiences, performers and technicians were staying home but, together with United We Stream GM, we were able to do what we do best: curating live music, comedy and performance direct from The Met’s main theatre – only this time online, straight into people’s homes.
United We Stream GM was set up to fundraise via a programme of entertainment from established and breakthrough Greater Manchester-centric talent, but also to encourage people to stay home and stay safe during the pandemic. I was responsible for the sound and light with our technical team, and it was thrilling to be able to reach millions of viewers throughout the lockdown and to raise thousands for good causes supporting those affected by the pandemic.
The programme of events seemed to just take off overnight, and featured Manchester’s finest DJs and musicians. Within a week, we were pretty much streaming 12 hours a day, five days a week!
Part of the success was being able to recreate the feel of a live event on screen – maximising what was possible with lighting and projections, and then working with the amazing media team to capture that perfectly on screen. We produced 207 hours of streaming entertainment while based at The Met, across 35 different productions throughout the first lockdown, and we raised £477,000 for local charities and good causes.
The Hacienda stream at New Year went global, and at this point we realised how important the project was to people who couldn’t leave their homes. This single, important stream ran for 24 hours, was seen by millions, and raised a whopping £115,000 for charities. It was truly wonderful to be involved in such a critical project, and to help make it happen.
One occasion really stands out, and that’s when we went to Media City to record the Manchester Survivors Choir. The choir is made up of young people who were at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, and until this point the United We Stream GM project had been broadcast entirely from the Met. It was the team’s first outing into the city since lockdown began, and the choir were all standing on Plaza Square; it was only when we got there that the realisation and importance of the event became apparent. These young adults were still clearly affected by the trauma of that day, so to be part of this felt really special. Leading up to this event my thoughts were purely along the lines of, ‘How do we approach this technically’, but it changed to, ‘What an amazing project and experience to be part of’.
Personally, I learned so much about AV and broadcast and the experience really developed me as a practitioner and a technical professional – skills I’ve been able to use for The Met’s own ‘in-house’ streams for audiences still isolated at home. But more than anything, it was truly an inspirational project and an honour to be part of.
Thank you for listening to this story. For more stories and information on Gratitude, please visit: www.thisisgratitude.co.uk