• Photo: Roland Baege

  • Photo: Roland Baege

  • Photo: Roland Baege

  • Photo: Roland Baege

SMARTPLACES conference recap: a hotspot for innovative thinkers, global reflections and strong connections 

15.05.2020 by Hester Gersonius

Keywords: conference, digital, recap

Digitality meets culture. On the 5th of March the Dortmunder U was a hotspot of the international cultural and creative scene, bringing experts from all around Europe. Around 120 cultural professionals from Germany and abroad came together at the third and last smARTplaces conference to exchange ideas, information and inspiration around human experiences with digital. Twenty speakers from ten countries provided insights into failures and successes in the field of ‘digitality and culture’ and discussed the experiences and perspectives from four years of smARTplaces. 

Conference tracks

In four tracks our speakers shared their experiences with digital: experiments, audiences, collaboration, failures and successes. In the Identity track we heard from speakers who are using digital to become more accessible to audiences. In  Belonging we heard from speakers who are on the frontline of creating unique physical-digital experiences, including a flashmob in Stockholm, a festival in Bangalore and an exhibition about the high street in Schiedam. Access explored fundamental questions like – What does it mean to become more diverse? How can we support new talent to thrive? In the final track Acceptance we came 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?

All the stories shared shared have a common thread – making sense of digital. Click on the links below for a full recap (including videos) of the different tracks.


What hierarchies and structures does a digital culture need? How do you anchor it in your institution, and how do you take the whole team along with you? The conference topics also came together in workshops and dealt, among other things, with how to create a welcome culture in your institution or how immersive storytelling works – i.e. the integration of virtual realities and interactive elements into the narrative. 

Partner spotlight

At the partner spotlight, the mARTplaces partners gathered on stage to reflect on their experiences of running this collaborative project over the past four years. Lead by Jasmin Vogel, CEO of Kulturforum Witten, Mariët Erica (Van Abbemuseum), Barbara Epalza (Azkuna Zentroa), Janne Kumpuoja (Oulu University of Applied Sciences), Juan Pradas (ETOPIA) and Prof. Dr. Rainer Vollkommer (National Museum Liechtenstein) shared their intentions in participating in this project, their experiences, struggles and successes.

The spotlight was followed by a closing note from the three initiators of the smARTplaces project: Jasmin VogelKurt Eichler and Britta Lerch.

Last but not least…

One of the things that set the SMARTPLACES conference apart from other conferences were the special performances that took place during the program. World renowned cellist, composer and singer/songwriter Caroline Lavelle performed a 15 minute set inspired by the four tracks of our conference, followed by a session by Dorothée King and Radek Rudnicki in the afternoon.