On Friday, June 30th, Jayjay Zifanwe contacted me with some excellent news: the University of Western Australia (UWA) is to retain a presence in Second Life for a further two years – albeit on a reduced scale.
UWA has enjoyed a long presence here in Second Life, operating multiple regions and becoming a stalwart supporter of virtual arts through its grand challenges and other competitions and opportunities offered to artists to present their work, as well a through support of machinima in physical world film challenges, such as those run by Screen My Shorts.
However, in September 2016, it was announced that due to changes within the UWA, its digital presence was to be largely shut down, with all but one of the five regions being removed from the grid at the start of October 2016, and the last given a stay of execution for at least a year.
Then, in October 2016 came word that one of the regions would transfer to the management of Sonicity Fitzroy (aka Dr Phylis Johnson) of the San Jose State University (and is now called SJSU Virlantis), while the four remaining regions – University of WA, UWA, UWA Winthrop and WASP Land would remain in place in-world until July 2017 before finally vanishing into the night.
Now, two of the regions will be continuing for at least two years, as a jubilant Jayjay informed me via IM:
“I’m pleased to be able to tell you that thanks to the ‘UWA Community Partnerships Programme’, the University of WA and UWA regions will now be remaining in Second Life for the next two years,” he said. “This is absolutely wonderful news, and I’d like to thank everyone who have believed in and participated in all we have done and achieved over the years.”
Nor is that all. As noted above, one of the things UWA is famous for in it patronage of the arts, is its series of grand challenges involving 2D and 3D art and machinima – and there is good news here as well.
“A benefactor has donated L$300,000 for a machinima challenge,” Jayjay went on. “So we will be running one with art as the theme. Participants will be asked to select one or a number of artworks on display at UWA and weave a story around it or them.”
Full details on the news about the extension to the two regions, and detailed information on the machinima challenge will be made available via the UWA of SL blog in due course. In the meantime a hint of the coming news can be found on the blog.
For now, congratulations to Jayjay, FreeWee Ling and everyone involved in making this happen.