Live Streaming & Good Vibes

By Fiona McGarry 

At the beginning of lockdown, Dan Matthews was concerned that there was “nothing to connect people”. He got together with Andrew Davies, Sherry Clark and Susanne Currid and they decided to “keep the vibe of Hastings going … to keep people’s energy high by live streaming on Facebook”. After that, according to Dan, the station’s Creative Director, “the whole thing snowballed” – local pubs and community organisations got involved with the project, the Observer Building housed the station and it was supported by Leisure & Learning (Hastings), the Common Treasury of Adaptable Ideas and Hastings Voluntary Action (HVA). 

Isolation Station Hastings was born and has been on air ever since, opening a window of interactive streamed entertainment and information which allows the audience to join in by posting questions and comments in real time; over 650,000 minutes has been broadcast so far. This includes: a daily(ish) update on local news and events; music and wild ideas from the living rooms of local artists; virtual versions of familiar local events and festivals like Jack in the Green; and a range of wellness activities and classes and educational programmes for both children and adults. 

A full schedule can be found on the ‘Live’ section of their Facebook page and, in case you’ve missed Isolation Station so far, you can access literally hundreds of videos and playlists of past programmes on the ‘Videos’ section. (You can watch them even if you are not on Facebook.)

Sue Tulley’s quiz on Isolation Station

It now has around 6,500 followers. There have been some surprising successes, such as Sue Tilley’s innovative life drawing classes, where Sue chooses models from her famous or interesting contacts – they’re still waiting on Boy George – and they are interviewed in a chilled, intimate setting while viewers draw them. This has attracted viewers from as far away as New York.

In their quest to keep people connected over the past two months, ISH have trained over 300 people to use technology to make their own programmes and over 100 people have fronted programmes for the first time – developing presentation skills they didn’t know they had.  Dan says: “We’ve just given people the keys to the church hall and said ‘Right – do whatever you want’.” He is proud that ISH has empowered people: “It’s wicked to see how it’s built people’s confidence.”

ISH are now planning how to take things forward at the end of lockdown. “Maybe there’s something we can do now with the skill sets we‘ve developed that can have a wider reach. We’d like to open as many avenues as possible,” says Dan.

Go to the ISH Facebook Page or their website to access Videos made during the pandemic. 

Listen to Stella Duffey (creator of Fun Palaces) and Dan Matthews talking about Isolation Station Hastings and Facing the Future on The Common Treasury of Adaptable Ideas 5/5.

Read our Artist Spotlight on Sue Tilley

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