August 6, 2020, by jicke

Virtual reality to make Nottingham fundraising music event sing

The popular Oxjam fundraising event held every year in Beeston will be featuring the latest virtual reality technology to create an immersive digital experience where musicians seem to appear together on a garden stage.

This year’s virtual event called ‘VOxjam’ takes place this Saturday and has been supported by experts from the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab and Horizon Digital Economy Institute. The team volunteered their time to create 360 videos of performances to give a more authentic experience for the audience.

Over 37 acts are taking part in this musical extravaganza, including local choirs and instrumental ensembles and acts from as far away as Hong Kong and Mexico. The 360 videos make it seem like the individual performers are standing together performing in the garden. Viewers can use phone apps to get a 3D view or use cardboard VR goggles to really feel immersed and part of the performance.

COVID-19 has profoundly disrupted the creative industries. The cancellation of live events, performances and exhibitions has seen a surge in the introduction of digital and new technology to allow people to still enjoy live events.Dr Paul Tennent Assistant Professor in the Mixed Reality Laboratory and one of this year’s performers said, “Live performances have been hugely affected by social distancing and many events have been taken online for people to enjoy via their devices. We wanted to take this experience to the next level and rather than see a screen with lots of separate faces singing or playing from their bedrooms we have used VR technology to make it look like they are performing together outside. We hope this will give the event a more authentic festival feel.”

Oxjam is a UK-based grass roots music event that runs concurrently in many towns and cities in October to raise money for Oxfam. Now in its 10th year, Beeston usually hosts the event that has grown to be hugely popular and has raised up to £150,000. The University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab has always been a keen supporter of the event with academics, staff and students regularly showcasing their own musical skills as part of the event. Acts taking part in the virtual festival this year include: Beeston Voices Choir, Ain’t Misbehavin, Threaded, Jorge Cardenes, guitarist from Mexico and headline act Plumhall – plus many more!

Professor Steve Benford commented: “The arts industry has been hit really hard by Coronavirus restrictions and we were keen to ensure Oxjam still went ahead as it’s a hugely popular community-led event. As we find ways to operate under a new normality technology has never been more important and we hope the work we’ve done for Oxjam could be the blueprint for something larger – possibly nationally – in the Autumn and beyond. We’re working closely with Oxfam, but also looking to connect to local cultural organisations that might feed into a future Nottingham festival next year that utilises this technology.”

The 10 hour music-fest will be streamed online to ticketholders from noon on Saturday. There’s a mix of live acts, prerecorded videos and live connections to audience’s gardens.

Ticketholders will receive a pack of festival activities to hold their own garden party and we are giving away 25 sets of Cardboard VR goggles for people use at home

Tickets cost £10 with all proceeds going to Oxfam. To buy go to: Or if you can’t make it, but would like to donate here’s a link:


More information is available from Professor Steve Benford on or Jane Icke, Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Science at the University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 5751 or

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