Internet technology has enabled the internationally successful Adelaide Fringe to operate as a truly global force as it prepares for a 24-day explosion of arts and entertainment in 2004.
From accepting online registrations by artists in countries as remote as Uzbekistan to the general public buying tickets and merchandise via the Fringe website, 24x7 technology is playing a defining role in the Adelaide Fringe 2004, supported by its major sponsor Internode.
This sponsorship relationship is further utilised with the increasing demands of online artists such as internationally renowned UK performer Blast Theory who is developing a state-of-the-art virtual reality game, which will be played online and on the streets of Adelaide in March 2004.
Internode is ensuring that the Adelaide Fringe technology systems stay up and running, 24x7 as well as providing considerable broadband connectivity.
Adelaide Fringe CEO Jodi Glass said the Internode sponsorship had enabled the Fringe to live up to its core philosophy of 'open access'. "Our partnership with Internode and our Internet-enabled business systems are providing artists with greater and more efficient access to the Adelaide Fringe, regardless of where they live," she said.
"The Fringe must stay ahead with its online management and purchasing systems to maintain its position as a leading international arts event."
Adelaide Fringe: As Australia's largest independent arts festival, the Adelaide Fringe (www.adelaidefringe.com.au ) is a 24-day, biennial event that sweeps up the community in a veritable frenzy of arts consumption. After attracting audiences of more than 858,550 in 2002, the Adelaide Fringe is the biggest Fringe festival of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
Internode: Internode is a national broadband Internet company. Based in Adelaide, the company has more than half its clients located outside South Australia. For the past two years, Internode has played a pioneering role in the introduction of innovative broadband services to Australia.
The biggest challenge the Adelaide Fringe faces is managing its success. During the 2002 Fringe, online ticket sales surged a massive 317 per cent over the previous event in 2000. With increased use of the Internet by both artists and consumers, the Fringe expects that as many as one in three tickets for the 20 February to 14 March 2004 Fringe will be sold online .
To ensure the Adelaide Fringe runs smoothly, organisers need to ensure the reliability and availability of its mission-critical business systems, including its ticketing system, merchandise sales system, and online Fringe Event Registration System (FERS), developed by 3D Resourcing.
Jodi Glass stressed that the Fringe needed first-rate technical expertise to establish and maintain its online resources. "Our website for the 2000 Adelaide Fringe received 525,384 hits in the three months from 1 January to 30 March 2000," she said.
"In 2002 the majority of hits came during the three weeks of the Adelaide Fringe itself. We received a total of 3,663,302 hits during the 24-day event, a 600% increase on our previous results. With this level of demand, it's imperative that we take on the technology to meet the needs of our online market to maintain our position as a leading international arts event.
"The process of artist registration can be arduous. There is a huge amount of paperwork and in the past, when the Fringe received artist registrations 'offline', transcribing more than 400 event applications via fax had time and accuracy implications."
Ms Glass said that in recognising this, the Fringe invested in the development of FERS, the customised online artist registration system that enables artists anywhere in the world to register their event with the Adelaide Fringe via its comprehensive website.
"FERS has made this process much more accurate and enables the Fringe to manage the registration process much more closely. "We can run a variety of tailored reports at any time to review what information has been captured," said Jodi Glass.
"The ability to access this information from a live database makes artist coordination, programming, venue coordination and marketing significantly easier and more importantly, accurate. The issue of multiple data handling we faced in previous Fringes is now redundant. Data integrity is paramount in an event like the Adelaide Fringe and with our online business systems it is vital this integrity is not compromised."
Adding to the pressure of managing such a large and popular event is the increasing demand from artists. Blast Theory, who want to exploit the latest developments in information and communication technology as part of their combination online and on street performance, is just one example of this demand.
Major sponsor Internode has provided the Adelaide Fringe with broadband access, quick responsiveness and fast downloads to support each of the Fringe online systems.
The Adelaide Fringe web and content servers, which hold the key to the Adelaide Fringe online systems including artist registration, ticketing and merchandise systems, are hosted at the world-class Internode Data Centre. Located in the Adelaide Central Business District, the Internode Data Centre provides 24x7 security monitoring, raised floors with under-floor cooling, uninterrupted power supply and a dedicated back-up generator, gigabit data access and redundant air-conditioning.
Ms Glass said Internode was distinguished by the speed and reliability of its Internet connectivity. "Whether the online user is an artist or potential audience member, they can engage from anywhere in the world to register, buy merchandise or buy tickets before heading to Australia," she said. "Internode is connectivity and reliability and that's what delivers real value to the Fringe.
Internode will also deliver the high-level connectivity required to operate a high bandwidth arts event like the Blast Theory project at the Adelaide Fringe 2004. UK performance group Blast Theory (http://www.blasttheory.co.uk ) will offer a fast-cutting collage of chase through Adelaide's city streets via the Internet and live on the ground as part of its interactive performance
Internode, through its wholesale partner, Agile Communications, will play a key role in the ground-breaking multimedia event through participation in CityLan. The world-leading CityLan network, which provides near uninterrupted wireless Internet access throughout Adelaide's Central Business District, will enable anyone with a wireless notebook or hand-held computer to participate in Blast Theory's virtual game of chase
Internode Managing Director Simon Hackett said Internode's sponsorship of the Fringe was about reinvesting the company's success back into the community. "Internode has grown spectacularly during the past few years," he said. "We're really happy to support a uniquely South Australian event such as the Fringe. Like Internode, the Fringe is a pioneer, so working together to make it all happen is also a lot of fun."
The Fringe Event Registration System (FERS) is an online registration system that allowed artists anywhere in the world to register their event for 2004 via the Adelaide Fringe website from May to October 2003. Since FERS began operating, artists from countries including Uzbekistan, Netherlands, Russia, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the US and UK have registered to participate in the Fringe.
Jodi Glass said online systems such as FERS simplified the process of running an event that involved artists from around the world. "FERS makes it simple and accessible for people all around the world to get connected with the Fringe here in Adelaide," she said. "For artists, it avoids the hassle and costs associated with international calls and faxes. It also simplifies the process for our staff by minimising the time of manually entering registration details on our system."
Participating artist Shakti, who had participated in the Edinburgh Fringe (UK), Avignon Fringe (France) and other festivals around the world said the Adelaide Fringe on-line registration system was by far the best one she had dealt with. "The Edinburgh Fringe and other festivals around the world have a lot to learn from you," she said.
Investing in the online merchandise and ticketing system allows the resources of the Fringe to be utilised more efficiently. Instead of hiring and training box office staff every two years to process sales, the Fringe is investing in a system, which will be used in every event.
"The money and resources invested now will be offset with each future Fringe," said Ms Glass. "The challenge is to ensure the system and connectivity are reliable enough for the heavy demands placed on it during Fringe time and we are confidant Internode can continue to supply this technical solution."