I am sending this note on behalf of the NIME Steering Committee.
NIME is keen to pursue movement across continents/ hemispheres/ countries to consolidate our excitingly growing cultural and geographical diversity. This movement across continents has indeed been part of NIME’s DNA/ tradition so far, and its pursuit means recognising requirements for hosting conferences which include:
- commitment from highly motivated host individuals and local/ regional teams;
- supportive institutions and wider academic/ cultural environments;
- accessibility, notably for non-institutionally affiliated contributors;
- sustainability in terms of financial and wider ecological costs (notably travel);
- recognising and catering for the needs of a geographically scattered and economically disparate community.
These requirements, in turn, play into other factors – for example:
- Institutional support is influenced by the academic value institutions attach to NIME.
- Non-institutionally affiliated contributors – e.g. artists/ performers – are not a homogeneously resourced group.
- Financial/ ecological travel costs may be diversely viewed/ experienced from different vantage points.
NIME welcomes our growing dynamic and suggestions as to how to best support this. Potential contributors may lack the confidence to participate more actively and/ or propose original approaches to enrich our networks.
If you are interested in hosting NIME and/ or otherwise contributing to NIME in future years but unsure or concerned about the effort/ amount of work required, please get in touch, and we would be more than happy to help/guide you through the process.
I thought I’d chime in on the conflict I sense between the different requirements.
I do love NIME, but I think having an in-person conference, where people fly in from around the world to discuss “frugal music innovation” for a few days, is a contradiction.
This year’s website says “we will also provide hybrid support for those who cannot attend the conference in person” which is good, but the implication is that there is no ethical consideration beyond ability to travel, and that remote participation isn’t ‘first class’. So while the theme is interesting, it ends up looking rather like green-washing.
I feel this runs against one of the points of your (excellent) environmental statement, where environmental officers look to “reduc[e] emissions related to air travel and physical infrastructure, proposing alternate and decentralized forms of conference delivery”. NIME Conference Environmental Statement | NIME
One positive idea would be to move towards a hub-based model, where people attend local conference hubs via land transport, or at least not intercontinental flights. Previous ICMPC/ESCOM conferences have explored this model, and found that it increases participation while reducing environmental impact, and I believe most attendees preferred it.
On top of this, funding could be sought to support intercontinental travel of early-career researchers for tours/residencies around the conference, to promote cultural exchange between hubs, with an eye on the decolonisation agenda.
These are great points, thanks for that.
We have discussed the hub-based model a few times at various meetings but this proposal met some resistance as it has some risk, including:
- siloing geographical communities
- isolating those coming from remote locations that would still need to travel a significant distance (everyone that is not in EU and US will have this issue)
- it might be harder to access funds for those that have to apply for competitive grants to attend a conference
It is on the agenda of the next Steering Committee to further discuss this point, though. Before then, it would be great to hear more thoughts from you and the rest of the community on this topic.
Yes agreed addressing this concern of siloing communities is key. Where I have proposed this for ICLC I realised that it is easy to fall into a trap where people such as myself from richer, historically colonising countries propose environmental mitigation measures that place greater burden on those from other countries.
I think it is important to acknowledge though that this is also a massive problem with the single-venue model, we’re just more used to it. There is also significant bias in that those who are most able to participate in that model often have a louder voice.
This is why I suggest supporting intercontinental travel of early-career researchers between hubs. This can be targeted to best help address this issue. Some intercontinental travel is of course important, but it makes sense for such trips to be well supported with residencies, local touring etc to make the most of whatever ‘carbon budget’ (or similar) the conference decides it should work with.
Edit: One more quick point to add, increasing numbers of research organisations are creating environmental policies where researchers have to justify the environmental damage of their research e.g. through travel. Certainly my own research host would not allow me to fly to a conference for a few days. So, single-venue conferences exclude researchers who follow environmental ethical policies.