Whilst digital delivery of many elements of Copenhagen 2021 had been included in the plans right from the start – and indeed were included in the original bids for WorldPride and EuroGames – the arrival of the global pandemic and its rapidly shifting and changing nature throughout 2020 and 2021 meant that digital delivery would be more important than ever before.
Consolidating the approach
Before the arrival of COVID19, responsibility for digital streaming and delivery of events, or parts of events, rested with the individual pillar Directors (i.e. Human Rights, Culture). Each pillar would consider what was possible, useful, and affordable, and work towards their own plans albeit with support from other teams, such as Production and Communications.
When it became clear at the beginning of 2021 that the pandemic would be ongoing at the time of our events in August 2021, a decision was made to consolidate the digital planning under the Communications Team so that there was a unified approach that could deliver as wide a digital programme as possible, within the resources available.
A scoping exercise was carried out in March 2021 to examine every core event (that is, an event organised directly by Copenhagen 2021) and consider whether or not it was a suitable event for a digital format. We also considered the feasibility of each event to be entirely digital should it be the case that no physical events were possible. Each Director was asked to give input to the scoping exercise and a plan was developed, discussed, tested and then agreed in May 2021.
Planning and logistics
By May 2021 it was increasingly clear that restrictions were gradually lifting in Denmark, and there was some optimism about the situation in which we would find ourselves in August.
The Happy Copenhagen board agreed to allocate significant additional funds to the costs of digital delivery, as we recognised this would be the means by which many people who should have attended Copenhagen 2021 in person would be engaging with us.
We hired a Digital Production Manager – a highly experienced digital producer who had worked on major public and digital events in Asia – whose role was to take the plan and develop it into a production schedule, and later hired an additional Digital Coordinator to support him.
The experience gained by Copenhagen Pride in delivering a smaller in-person but wholly digital Pride week in 2020 was invaluable, and this allowed us to work directly with a production company who were already well versed in what we would want to achieve. In addition, the Director of Communications was one of the co-founders of the Global Pride 2020 project and was able to tap into much of the expertise gained there.
The team in Malmö arranged their own digital streaming and hired their own production company, largely to broadcast the hundreds of sessions taking place at WorldPride House / Malmö Live including the Refugees, Borders & Immigration Summit. The archive of all Malmö streams can be found on Vimeo.
The three months from May to August were very intense for the digital team who had to work with multiple venues, vendors, formats, platforms whilst also managing expectations amongst the Copenhagen 2021 team. Whilst we had been careful to ensure that all Directors were agreed on the plan in May, with weeks to go before the event it became clear that some Directors were expecting more than had been agreed, leading to inevitable disappointment. There were also some miscommunications from teams who used the word ‘YouTube’ when they should have said ‘streaming’, leaving some partners wondering why sessions were not all streamed to the Google platform.
Content was streamed (either live or pre-recorded) to various platforms. For example, open sessions of the Human Rights Conference were streamed to YouTube and Facebook, whereas closed sessions took place on Zoom with recordings later uploaded to YouTube where appropriate. Concerts at KB Hallen and/or Fælledparken were streamed to YouTube and Facebook.
You can find the full list of all digital events here. The following events were broadcast:
- WorldPride Opening Parade, Malmö
- Opening of the Human Rights Forum, UN City
- Human Rights Conference
- Workplace Inclusion Day
- 1:1 Democracy Festival
- Refugees, Borders & Immigration Summit
- EuroGames Opening Ceremony
- Sports Leader Conference
- Under the Rainbow Concert
- Drag Night Concert
- WorldPride & EuroGames Closing Ceremony
- 100+ sessions at WorldPride House
Many more recordings were made – at WorldPride Square, Huset 2021, Sports Village, Fluid Festival, for example – and shared the same day or the next day on social media. These are also archived on the Copenhagen 2021 YouTube channel.
Management of the technical and logistical elements of the broadcasts and streams was led by the Digital Production Manager and Digital Coordinator and they were on site at major events throughout. Inevitably there were some technical glitches but these were quickly resolved. More than 71,000 unique users engaged with our streamed content during the event itself.
In all public sessions organised by the Human Rights Team, participants were provided with security advice in advance, and during the session itself. This included advice on keeping cameras off, and not disclosing information that may be sensitive.
Conscious that LGBTI+ people and activists are at risk in many countries in the world, we negotiated with virtual private network (VPN) company TunnelBear to provide 5,000 VPN licences to activists who wanted them in order to watch or engage with our content with more peace of mind. This was done through a simple application process on our website, and all applicants were awarded a free, 12-month TunnelBear licence worth approx. $50 each.