Cosplayers at the BrisAsia festival in 2016. Christy Gallois on Flickr. Public domain

While social media has done a good job of giving a platform to more diverse voices, it lacks the opportunities for hearing from those voices while engaging with the world around you. Municipalities and festivals need to find more creative ways to celebrate diversity. With sometimes limited resources, how can we amplify diverse voices while engaging with the public?

To date almost a dozen municipalities and festivals across the world have used the Story City platform to create interactive experiences allowing over 25,000 users to interact with local stories and public spaces. It also gives local creative communities the opportunity to share their work with the world.

Jal Mahal in Jaipur, India — the city upon which Melbourne’s Jaipur Festival is based. Credit: Firoze Edassery on Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0

So how does it work?

We could tell you how it works but let’s look at all the details about the Maiwar Exhibition Tour, the Weaving Our Heritage BrisAsia Tour, and the UNESCO City of Literature: Jaipur Festival – projects designed on the Story City Platform.

The Details

The Ask

The world is a diverse place. Both Brisbane City Council and the Jaipur Literature Festival Melbourne wanted to find ways to celebrate the rich diversity of each city while highlighting the diverse voices that make each city unique. They also wanted to creatively educate visitors and locals about cultural history and storytelling.

The Challenges

Maiwar Exhibition Tour in July 2016 for Black History Month. Work by Hannah Bronte.

Creating immersive experiences that will resonate with a broad audience can be challenging for municipalities and creative festivals and organizations. There are so many barriers such as accessible timing, creating universal and engaging content, and finding ways to celebrate diversity in a culturally acceptable way.

With the Maiwar Exhibition Tour and the Weaving Our Heritage BrisAsia Tour, Brisbane City Council wanted to find ways to: 

  • Provide an in-depth understanding of the art, artists, and indigenous culture.
  • Promote and educate on multicultural storytelling and art.
  • Create tours that could be done by visitors at their own pace 24/7 and beyond the original festival.

For the UNESCO City of Literature: Jaipur Festival, Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature wanted to: 

  • Engage locals in the rich multicultural heritage of the city
  • Highlight and celebrate multicultural creators, especially female women of colour
  • Showcase Melbourne from an Indian expat lens

The Ultimate Plans

When you can tie location and storytelling together it makes an immersive experience much more memorable and engaging. Using locative storytelling and our GPS technology, Story City worked with Brisbane City Council and Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature to create custom, interactive, free-to-the-public experiences. The two art walks created were focused on showcasing artists and creators as well as their cultural heritage. We also created two Choose Your Adventure experiences as well as one puzzle trail urging guests to solve riddles to unlock the next location in the story. 

Image credit: Elysha Rei (Gould) — Image courtesy of the artist.

To build each experience, a diverse group of artists and storytellers was featured and their work formed the foundation for the tours. In each experience, multi-cultural storytelling was the key to creating and presenting amazing content and a memorable and meaningful experience. 

In Melbourne, four creators – each of Indian descent – created three fictional adventures that reimagined Indian mythology and history. They wove each story through the city streets to create a truly unique experience, introducing Indian stories to many in Melbourne for the first time. The stories were created by Chetna Prakash, Aparna Ananthuni, Rashmi Patel, and Meelee Soorkia.

For Black History Month in Brisbane, the Maiwar Project, a visual art exhibition featuring contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, was the signature event in the city. The self-guided audio tour of the exhibition on the Story City platform featured interviews with Aboriginal artists discussing their work. The artists featured were Glennys Briggs, Hannah Bront, Megan Cope, Archie Moore, Ryan Presley, and Judy Watson. Curators who were featured on the tour were from Blaklash Collective – Freja Carmichael, Katina Davidson, and Amanda Hayman. 

The BrisAsia Tour focused on a large-scale art installation by Engage Arts – featuring work by artists Elysha Rei (Gould), and Vanghoua Anthony Vue. This installation was a part of the annual BrisAsia Festival and focused on each artist’s exploration of their own Asian heritage.

In each of the three experiences built on the Story City platform, digital content that either augmented a real-world experience or opened up the next part of the story was unlocked in the Story City GPS app once visitors arrive at the right location. For the fictional adventures, each involved some sort of activity or challenge before you can move on to the next. Each digital experience was designed to have visitors interact with the world around them to explore and experience each location in a way that they never would have previously.

Results

The Golden Deer, written by Aparna Ananthuni. Full credits in link.

Self-Guided experiences like these that are built on the Story City platform are not only cost effective, but they are also available to the public for free 24/7. Being able to offer this type of experience for an extended period of time meant that the content created can live on far past the close of a festival or awareness month. The Black History Month and BrisAsia tours not only increased visitation to the physical installations during the festival and beyond, but they also drove foot traffic past local businesses. 

In all cases, artists, creators, and event organisers had the opportunity to educate visitors on multi-cultural issues, different cultural perspectives, and the history of the culture that makes each city and the people that live there unique. Each experience also brought city streets to life in an accessible and engaging way.

Most importantly, each project featured diverse voices from marginalized communities, giving them the opportunity to showcase their work and share their perspective.

The three fictional adventures as part of the Jaipur Literature Festival Melbourne are available through the Story City App:

  • AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY: PG RATING – Navigate through some of Melbourne’s best-known streets as you help three Indian sages save the city of Melbourne from chaos and destruction.
  • THE GOLDEN DEER: PG RATING – Investigate a mysterious murder and discover another Melbourne – a perilous world of myth, magic, secret societies, and revenge.
  • SEARCHING FOR SALONI: PG RATING – Your best friend Saloni has been kidnapped! If you want to see her alive again, you will need to do exactly as her kidnappers say.

Both the Maiwar Exhibition Tour and the BrisAsia Art Tour are archived on the Story City website.

Ready to unlock the true power of interactive storytelling for your city? We’re happy to guide you through the process while providing professional development and paid opportunities for the creators in YOUR city.

How can Story City Help You Unlock the Power of Interactive Storytelling for Your City?

Story City is an international leader in locative storytelling and cultural tourism. The GPS app is the only one of its kind that runs this type of interactive digital/real world experience.

If you’re part of a municipal organization or festival that is looking for ways to promote foot traffic and help to increase overall engagement in your city’s public spaces and installations, contact Story City to see how we can help you connect to locals and visitors in an interactive and entertaining way. Just email: info (at) storycity (dot) app