Exploring the potential of Virtual Reality

lani2What is the emerging field of virtual reality (VR) and what are the opportunities for North West in developing an expertise in the area?

What are the challenges for organisations in recruiting and retaining talent, product and service development, client sales and delivery?

billy2What are the barriers and opportunities for people wanting to work in the creative digital sector

What support can public and third sector organisations provide in the development of the creative digital sector?

How do I know that I even have the potential to work in the creative digital sector and VR specifically?

These are the primary questions driving a collaborative research project focused on Cheshire East as a site for exploration. Each question works at a different scale.

  1. North West England has a high proportion of UK organisations active in the virtual reality (VR) space and so there is an opportunity to situate the region as a leader in VR. How could this be realised?
  2. Cheshire East is a peri-urban region with a high number of creative-digital SMEs and several world-leading companies working in creative-digital spaces. How can this area specialism be capitalised upon and what are the challenges?
  3. Cheshire East has many attractive rural residential areas and decent transport infrastructure into several major cities, however some areas are not as well connected . How can people in more isolated areas be connected to creative digital opportunities?
  4. Creative Digital is a rapidly growing sector that requires specific skillsets. How can people find out if they have talent or potential to work in this sector?

We are working with the Institute for Cultural Practices at the University of Manchester and Cheshire East Council to explore these questions using an HTC Vive (virtual reality) kit as an engagement method visiting community events and festivals over a 6 month period (Jan-Jun 2018).

Dates and Locations of VR Playday events

The VR Playdays are for people to explore the potential of VR, identify competencies and discuss challenges in creative digital sector.



The events are community-facing, informal and dropin providing the opportunity to have a play using Google Tiltbrush, a 3D freeform drawing tool and explore other VR content.

January 2018

Thurs 18th January 10-2pm: come to a VR Playday drop in at University of Manchester

February 2018

Tues 6th February 1-3.30pm: come to Artspace in Macclesfield to draw in 3D with Google Tilt Brush

Tues 13th February 12-5pm: come to creative digital Convergence Symposium at Macclesfield Town Hall and try to draw the perfect cube in VR

Man_VL-01We will be in the following public libraries over February Half Term

Nantwich: Mon 19th February, 10am-2pm

Sandbach: Tues 20th February, 10am-2pm

Congleton: Wed 21st February, 9.30am-12.30pm

Holmes Chapel: Thur 22nd February, 10am-12.30pm

Bollington: Fri 23rd February, 10.30am-2.30pm

Knutsford: Sat 24th February, 10am-12.30pm

March 2018

Thurs 1st March 12-3pm: At the YMCA in Crewe drawing and exploring Virtual Reality with residents there

Wed 7th March 12-2pm: We will be sketching with virtual ribbons in Google Tilt brush for International Women’s Day at Crewe Library

Wed 28th March 10-2pm: Dancing and drawing to music in virtual reality at Congleton High School followed by a group discussion on talent in the creative digital sector (high school pupils only)

April 2018

10th-12th April 10-2pm: Easter Holiday VR game running across Cheshire East over 3 days, more details announced soon.

Sat 21st April 10-12.30pm: Exploring different VR content and informal Q&A with Simon Lumb, Senior Product Manager, VR/AR/Interactive at the BBC at Poynton Library

May 2018

Friday 4th May 10-2pm: Sketching Barnaby Parade in VR – come along to a live sketching of the Barnaby Parade in virtual reality, watch the parade artists in action at  Artspace in Macclesfield 

June 2018

15-24th June: We will be at the Barnaby Festival in Macclesfield with our VR kit and ready to share insight about Cheshire East and the creative digital sector

July 2018

20-22nd June: The fruits of 6 months of 3D drawing, sharing and exploring the potential of VR in the creative digital sector will be shared at the Bluedot Festival

August – December 2018

Production of the research report and a VR roadshow around Cheshire East sharing the project insights – scheduled for the final quarter of the year.

If you would like to play in VR and you are based in Cheshire East, please get in touch. We are interested in different venues, from Meetups in pubs to markets, festivals and other random spaces. We are focused on the rural, isolated areas but we are open to suggestion.