SMARTPLACES | 3rd annual conference

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As the smARTplaces project comes to a close, we realised there are many stories to share about experiments, audiences, collaboration, failures and successes. For our third and final conference – SMARTPLACES – hosted by the Dortmunder U on March 5th 2020, we’re telling these stories by shining a spotlight on our colleagues from across the world.

This search for cultural professionals with shared experiences led us to the conference theme – a human experience of engaging with digital in the cultural and creative industries. Across the four tracks – Identity, Belonging, Access and Acceptance – you’ll hear from people with diverse backgrounds and professional experiences.  All these stories share a common thread – making sense of digital. The talks will inspire ideas that you can incorporate into your own professional practice. If you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can take part in a workshop on themes like digital placemaking, mental health, wayfinding and immersive storytelling.

SMARTPLACES recreates the open and inclusive atmosphere of our steering group meetings, when all multidisciplinary partners gathered to reflect on our experiments, ask questions and take deep dives into new themes. We invite you to do the same on March 5, 2020.


Over 20 speakers from 10 countries have confirmed. Please visit this page for a complete overview:


Early registration is now open. Please visit this link to book a place:


For an overview of all tracks, workshop and other sessions visit our program page! Prefer a printed version? Click here to download a PDF of the program (also available at the conference).

09:00   Arrival and registration

Pick up your delegate badge in the foyer of the Dortmunder U.

09:30   Official welcome

Official welcome to the day by representatives of the City of Dortmund, Dortmunder U and the conference curator, Abhay Adhikari.

09:45   Performance by Caroline Lavelle

World renowned cellist, composer and singer/songwriter Caroline Lavelle will perform a 15 minute set inspired by the four tracks of our conference.

10:15   Track 1: Identity   How does digital help us understand who are we?

In this track we'll hear from speakers who are using digital to become more accessible to audiences. They'll share their personal experiences of leading the change within their organisations - a theatre company from Northern Ireland, an art museum from the USA and a circus from Spain. Working in such different cultural contexts, we'll explore what they have in common.


Dr. Zoe Seaton
Founder and Artistic Director, Big Telly Theatre Company

Seema Rao
Deputy Director, Akron Art Museum

Inés Delgado
Director, Zirkozaurre


Mechthild Eickhoff
Fonds Soziokultur

Followed by Q&A

11:15   Track 2: Belonging   How can digital help us become more present in our cities?

As our towns and cities change, how can digital help cultural institutions become more relevant to their citizens? In this track we hear from speakers who are on the frontline of creating unique physical-digital experiences. These include - organising a flashmob in Stockholm, a festival in Bangalore and an exhibition about the high street in Schiedam.


Moa Beskow
Ethnologist, Stockholms länsmuseum

Archana Prasad
Founder, Jaaga

Merel van der Vaart
City History Curator, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam


Barbara Epalza
Marketing Manager, Azkuna Zentroa

Followed by Q&A

12:15   Coffee break

Enjoy a cup of coffee before we move on to the workshops.

12:30   Workshops

We have put together a program of interactive, hands-on workshops run by subject-matter experts who have worked globally. This includes Damian MallepreeAlastair Somerville and Harald Opel. Themes include: wayfinding, setting up labs for cultural institutions and immersive storytelling. Please sign up for the newsletter to get the latest conference updates.

13:30   Lunch break
14:00   Exhibition tours

During lunch we invite you to explore two of our current exhibitions:

1. Guided tour of the new collection exhibition of Museum Ostwall im Dortmunder U “Body & Soul. Thinking, Feeling, Brushing Teeth”, level 4

2. Guided tour of the exhibition “Artists & Agents – Performance Art and Secret Services“, HMKV (Hartware MedienKunstVerein), level 3

14:30   Track 3: Access   Can digital enable new talent to thrive in our institutions?

In this track we hear from new voices who are trying to create change from the ground-up in arts organisations, publishing and public broadcasting. We will explore fundamental questions like - What does it mean to become more diverse? How can we support new talent to thrive?


The White Pube

Milly Reilly
Literary Agent, Jo Unwin Literary Agency

Sonja Duschek
Head of Archive, Hessicher Rundfunk


Isabel Cébrian
Etopia Center for Art & Technology

Followed by Q&A

15:30   Interaction - A session by Dorothée King and Radek Rudnicki

Dorothée King is professor and head of the Arts and Design Education department and the Learning Lab at Basel Academy for Arts and Design. She earned her PhD from the College of Fine Arts at Berlin University of the Arts. She has also lectured at Rhode Island School of Design, Providence College; the Interface Cultures program at the University for Art and Industrial Design Linz, Austria; and the Banff New Media Institute, Canada. She was a consultant for the TransArt Institute in New York and has been working as a freelance educator, communicator and coach since 2002.

16:00   Coffee break

Enjoy a cup of coffee and mingle during the break.

16:15   Track 4: Acceptance   Just how digital can we be?

In this track we come to terms with the reality that the choice of digital tools and processes will only continue to increase. Do we have to accept all of them in our day-to-day work or are there limits to just how digital we can be? We hear from speakers who've been on the forefront of developing digital strategies for their organisations, and in some cases, their sectors.


Dafydd James
Head of Digital, National Museum Wales

Etta Grotrian
Digital Strategy Manager, Übersee-Museum Bremen

Inna Goudz
Creative Leader, Jüdische Kulturtage Rhein-Ruhr


Juan Pradas
Etopia Center for Art & Technology

Followed by Q&A

17:15   Partners spotlight


Jasmin Vogel
CEO, Witten Kulturforum

18:00   Closing note


Britta Lerch
smARTplaces Project Coordinator, Dortmunder U


Kurt Eichler
Member of the Executive Board, Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft

Jasmin Vogel
CEO, Witten Kulturforum

18:30   Evening social

To be announced soon!

Practical Information

  • Book your ticket via Eventbrite:
  • The registration fee is €39,00 including lunch and coffee breaks on the conference day.
  • Students and unemployed are eligible for a €5,00 discount. You can apply for the discount code upon proof of your situation via
  • All registrations are final – no refunds apply.
  • The sessions of the event will be in English with free simultaneous translation to German available for all attendees.
  • At this event, photo and video recordings and broadcasts are made for communication purposes. If you are not comfortable with your image being taken, please inform someone from the organisation.
  • Accessibility: In order for everyone to participate fully, we want to make our event as accessible as possible. The Dortmunder U is accessible for wheelchair users. (Toilets, elevators and stepless transitions). The cinema in the U has an inductive listening system. The public area in the U is equipped with a guidance system for the visually impaired. Please contact the organisation via for more information about access to the venue and event, so we can provide particular requirements on request.
  • Travel information for international visitors: We suggest Düsseldorf airport as it’s an international hub and there are regular, direct trains to Dortmund direct from the airport. Dortmund is also well connected by trains. You can get great fares using the Saver Price option on especially from The Netherlands, France, Belgium and the UK. Please select Dortmund Hbf from the dropdown list. If you are looking for hotel recommendations, we will be sending those out via our newsletter regularly. So make sure you sign up for regular conference updates.