Shift Happens (2008-13)

The genesis of Shift as an event followed our previous Artistic Director, Marcus Romer’s, visits to the TED conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design) in 2007 and 2011 on a travel bursary from Arts Council England. Marcus came back really fired up by TED and started discussions with ACE to fund the first Shift Happens conference in 2008 hosted at York Theatre Royal. An inspiring set of speakers and events together with response from participants sparked a further plan to launch Shift Happens as an annual event.

The Shift Happens conference in 2009 included keynotes from Charlie Leadbeater and Bill Thompson, as well as providing digital upskilling events for the sector and we were joined by Lyn Gardner from The Guardian who blogged the two day event.

In 2010 we ran ALT/Shift (Shift Happens 3) looking at Arts / Learning / Technology (ALT). We were very privileged to have Skype keynotes from Sir Ken Robinson (Creativity / Education specialist from LA) and Alice Greenwald (Director of the Sept 11 Memorial Museum in New York). We also managed to bring over to York, Jonathan Harris, a Digital Artist from Brooklyn to present an hour keynote.

In 2011 we were granted a license from TED to hold TEDxYork at the Ron Cooke Hub (University of York). With Shift Happens being born from the TED stable, TEDxYork felt very familiar. The theme of the conference was integrating Arts in to the traditional Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) sectors to create a new STEAM age. With the generous funding of Arts Council England, York City Council, Science City York, University of York and York St John University, we were able to operate TEDxYork as a free event.

In 2012 we returned to York Theatre Royal for Shift Happens Episode IV: A New Hope. Our speakers included Clay Shirky (keynote), Samuel West, Lyn Gardner, Bill Thompson and Peter Gregson as well as Dr Rebekka Kill. A notable highlight of the day was to see #shifthappens trending number 2 in the UK on twitter.

In 2013 on July 8th, Shift Happens V took place, with a stellar line-up of speakers and thought leaders including internet guru Howard Rheingold, Pirate’s Dilemma Author Matt Mason, Graeae Director and co Director of The Paralympics Opening Ceremony, Jenny Sealey and Joseph Rowntree Foundation CEO Julia Unwin

The key aims of Shift Happens were:

  • to provide inspiring content that we can share with the whole Arts Sector
  • to provoke and examine new thinking
  • to generate new ideas for collaboration and connection
  • to provide networking opportunities and a space and a time to re-examine our relationship with the
  • shifting digital landscape
  • to increase organisations’ digital capacity
  • to inspire and offer leadership examples by providing provocation, debate and keynote challenges