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Tool 3: The MESH Festival

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Idea and Organisation

MESH Festival was a virtual pick-and-choose online festival that mixed inspiring talks, interactive workshops and roundtable discussions with linear TV, film streaming, artist showcases and other activities. It spanned design, sustainability and technology. The entire festival was free to attend.

The digital festival was organised by Media Evolution, an organisation driven by the mission to foster growth and innovation in the digital and creative industries of southern Sweden. The core of the organisation is the member community and a platform for sharing ideas, developing competencies and driving innovation for the members. Media Evolution also pursues pioneering projects, locally and globally to create new markets for the members.

MESH Festival in Figures

  • 400 participants
  • 4 days
  • 16 happenings
  • 7 showcases
  • 80% said that the event was relevant for their work

Aim and Target Group

The MESH Festival was envisioned as a tool to test different collaboration formats. Both Media Evolution and the Creative Ports’ network of CCI companies were brought together to discover new ways to meet and to gain and share knowledge in an online context.

The aim was to:

  • Share inspiration for new ideas, methods and technologies
  • Inspire cooperation between participants
  • Offer formats from concrete capacity building and peer learning
  • Share information about new markets and soft landing

The Program

Media Evolution ran an international conference for ten years in Malmö, Sweden. “The Conference” was a two-day conference where curious minds from all over the world met to delve into the promises and pitfalls of digital development. When Covid struck, the MESH Festival was created in place of The Conference to give Media Evolution’s members, CCIs in the Baltic Sea region and others a chance to meet and greet in a new way. The MESH program was a medley of formats, all less than a day long. They ranged from talks and masterclasses and roundtable discussions to workshops and showcases. The goal was to create a sense of surprise and intrigue and to offer participants a sensory experience. By exploring different formats, the organisers could explore what worked and what didn’t.

Tuesday, November 10

  • Waste as a resource
  • Daylight trilogy – part 1: humans
  • World film premiere: only the devil lives without hope
  • Directors talk: only the devil lives without hope

Wednesday, November 11

  • Lunch with new friends – creative conversations virtually
  • DDD – discover, define and design with data
  • What is design ethics?
  • Southern sweden design days studio visits
  • Design talk salon

Thursday, November 12

  • Lunch with new friends – internationalisation through a
  • Changemakers design phase workshop
  • Designing the natural world
  • Très Bien

Friday, November 13

  • Round table conversation: a regenerative mindset
  • Lunch with new friends – internationalisation through a
  • Inventing point b – a workshop with amy whitaker


An easy-to-use graphic profile was created that linked to the Creative Ports graphic material. Facebook was the most important communication channel and each event had a dedicated registration page.

Testimonials From Participants

“I was able to deepen my understanding of many topics that I only superficially knew of before, and some useful approaches to thinking in "frameworks" or abstractions to aid understanding and connection on deeper levels.”

“As I've been to The Conference, I know the work you put into the details around arranging your events. Here, you clearly put a lot of work into the speakers and the content, but it all felt a bit "cheap" when arranging it on Zoom. This is really the only improvement feedback I can give, as I really enjoyed the webinars that I attended. I just wished I had more time to attend more of them.“

Lessons Learnt

After years of organising meetings, gatherings, conferences and festivals, Media Evolution had to take a crash course in implementing an online festival. Here are some of the key learnings:


  • Rather a pick and choose format than jam-packed days.
  • Four days during the same week was maybe too much - quality over quantity.
  • OR, distribute events over an extended time frame for example, a themed month.
  • Smaller events like workshops and round table conversations had a better show-up rate than webinars, but people still dropped off more than in real-life events. A no- show fee or a nominal registration fee could be used to build greater commitment.

What formats worked best?

  • Interviews and Q&As — This format proved a success in an online setting. You end up closer to the speaker/interviewee when you’re in front of a screen than you do in real life. A questions based format was more dynamic than a straightforward presentation.
  • Conversation based knowledge sharing (peer learning) — Round table conversations led by a moderator worked particularly well online as the online format functions as a leveler and helps focus the conversation.
  • All artist studio visits were pre-recorded and these showcases were well suited to the on-demand format. — That storytelling and intimacy trump a powerpoint, was something participants experienced when one of the speakers accidentally had to give his talk with a smartphone. This unexpected, ad hoc solution led to a more personal talk that took us on a live tour through the speaker’s kitchen.