Sonic Scenographies is a collaboration between the University of Michigan’s A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, ArtsEngine, and the UM School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Sonic Scenographies – Request For Proposals

Sonic Scenographies is a research program that catalyzes experimental collaboration at the intersection of performance, music, theatre, dance, architecture, and digital space. It is an invitation for students across disciplines, with support from faculty, to speculate on ways performative digital space can offer novel social and cultural experiences. Sonic Scenographies relies on interdisciplinary collaboration and emergent technologies to test new methods in digital design, online performance, documentation, and transmission.


Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has seen an uptick in ingenuity with regards to the unorthodox presentation of architecture, music, theatre, and dance.  Whether it be online gallery tours, living room performances, video game dance parties or synchronized choral performances, artists and designers are finding ways to produce empathic spaces which transcend the banalities of ubiquitous video calls toward something altogether new.  At its core, Sonic Scenographies is a proposal which sympathizes with such undertakings and strives to take these efforts to a new virtual level, seeking to imbue students with a sense of excitement and optimism, preparing them to lead with their creativity as new modes of performance and interactivity take shape, while blazing a path towards new forms and even genres of performance.


Sonic Scenographies is predicated on interdisciplinary experimentation. Funding will be competitively awarded for up to five projects. Students-led teams with faculty mentors will require participation from a minimum of two North Campus Schools. Interested students can form their own teams or participate in a cross-college information and team-building events hosted by ArtsEngine. Email if you have questions or need more information. The outcomes of the research effort will ultimately contribute to a virtual exhibition and forum.

Current U of M students from Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning (TCAUP) and the School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD) are eligible to apply, and teams must include one student from each department.  Recent graduates (December 2019 / May 2020) may also apply, with the caveat that they must be part of a group with a current U of M student.  Each team must include at least one faculty mentor from SMTD or TCAUP, but ideally include one from each.


Specific deliverables are intentionally open-ended to encourage imagination and experimentation. Selected projects should, however, address one or more of the following instigations:

  1. What are the social practices and spatial components of the creative process in the performing arts?
  2. How can interactive multimedia environments expand the ways in which we engage one another online?
  3. How can virtual space facilitate the creative process in the performing arts?
  4. How can acoustics affect social interactions within virtual space?
  5. What are the strengths and weaknesses of virtual space as a performance venue?
  6. What are the advantages and disadvantages of fantasy or unreal virtual spaces for performance?
  7. How can collaborative rehearsal activities be facilitated in virtual space?
  8. How can performance be undertaken and witnessed asynchronously in virtual environments?
  9. What tools and best practices can facilitate synchronous performance in virtual environments?
  10. How can virtual spaces create more inclusive experiences for performances


May 21, 2020 -- RFP issued

May 27, 2020 -- Information Session [1 PM - 1:45 PM]

May 29, 2020 -- Ice Cream Social Collaborative Team Building Event [1 PM - 2:30]

June 8, 2020 -- RFP Due

June 11, 2020 -- Grant Recipients Announced

July 1, 2020 -- #WIP Event

September 10, 2020 -- Virtual Exhibition and Public Forum

Funding Details

Up to 5 selected teams will receive $2,000 stipends for supplies and honoraria.

Evaluation Criteria

  1. Does the project show evidence of imagination and creativity that advances our understanding of sonic scenographies?
  2. Does the proposal address one or more of the Sonic Scenography research questions listed above?
  3. Does the proposal include student participants from at least two north campus units (e.g., Architecture, Art & Design, Engineering, Information, Music, Theatre & Dance)?
  4. Does the proposal include a faculty mentor?
  5. Does the proposal include a clear and feasible budget?
  6. Can the project produce results, in the form of an experimental performance, video or prototype, by the September 10th virtual exhibition and public forum?