Kingston’s Annual Digital Arts Fest: Live in Two Days

2024 FOLDA logo. Text includes: "FOLDA Festival of Live Digital Art".

Kingston’s annual Festival of Live Digital Arts (FOLDA) is once again on the horizon (and no, that is not a pun directed at HORIZON 360°—a film in this year’s lineup). As a hectic week is underway for the team and busy schedules abound in summer months, I conducted an eight-question email interview with Co-Curator Michael Wheeler about an intensive run alongside FOLDA in partnership with Ingenuity Labs: The StartUp.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

What is The StartUp? When did it begin and how did it begin?

The StartUp is the industry series that runs parallel to FOLDA. Each year there are experiments, workshops, and panels that engage with questions about how new technologies are impacting live performance.

What inspired the collaboration with Ingenuity Labs?

The computer scientists and engineers that work out of the lab are some of the brightest minds in the country working on what new technologies can achieve. Engaging with their research and facilities allows our investigations into the possibilities of art-making to be connected to real invention-making. They are also very generous and lovely hosts in a state-of-the-art facility.

How are the events in The StartUp determined? More specifically, what determined the events in this year’s StartUp?

We curate the series with an eye to what technologies are making waves currently and a mix of presenters and forms. This year we settled on:

Day 1: Mixed Reality

Day 2: AI [Artificial Intelligence]

Day 3: Community

What are you most hopeful participants will walk away from The StartUp having learned?

Something new! A different way of thinking about things. Also new contacts. Participants also find other folx that have like-minded interests from across the country.

Headshot of Michael Wheeler outside with a scarf and blazer on.
Michael Wheeler. Photo provided by Rose Hopkins.

Could you speak to the inclusionary practices and involvement within The StartUp? 

FOLDA has had a focus on accessibility since its inception. SpiderWebShow, which is our company that produces the festival, has had a focus on social justice and inclusion since the beginning. So these values manifest in The StartUp. This year, our workshop on bias in generative AI will look at how the technology can reinforce stereotypes regarding gender, race, and access. More generally, we hope our engagement with these questions is connected to an inclusive art practice.

The StartUp includes both workshops and attending shows—what could an average day look like for a participant?

Big fun days! A Workshop at 10am. Break. A workshop at 2pm. Break. And a show in the evening. Events are at the Isabel [Bader Centre], Ingenuity Labs, and one concert at the Broom Factory.

The StartUp is an intensive that is looking for artists, science and technology workers, and arts and culture workers to join as participants. What should appeal to each or all of them about The StartUp?

Honestly, it’s for anyone who is curious about how things are heading with art and all the new possibilities that technology is presenting. We don’t deify what is happening. Maybe some of this is harmful? Or incredible? Let’s try ideas and projects out and talk about it.

Is there anything you’d like to mention that I haven’t asked?

Yes, it’s always nice to have a mix of folx from the local community with the peeps who come from across the country. Those of us that are K Town-based are slowly creating a community that is working in what I will call XR+, I guess. This is a great way for Kingstonians to connect to that emerging community.

FOLDA runs from June 13-15, 2024, and more information can be found here. More information about Michael Wheeler and other folx on FOLDA’s team can be found here

Please note Kingston-based artists can use KINGSTONARTS25 for 25% off the StartUp pass (regularly $140). This includes access to all StartUp events and FOLDA shows. Tickets can be purchased here.


  • Holly Hebert

    Holly (she/her) is a theatre artist with a passion for analyzing theatre in order to see it grow. She has previously written for, Intermission Magazine, and has been a participant in two installments of the New Young Reviewers program with Toronto Fringe. Being Kingston-raised, Holly loves the opportunity to engage with the theatre community in the city. If you have any questions or comments about the blog, email

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