UC appoints Digital Screen Campus Programme Manager

Chelsea Rapp, a leading voice in Aotearoa New Zealand’s game development community, has been appointed Programme Manager for the University of Canterbury (UC)’s recently announced Digital Screen Campus.

Opening in 2023, UC’s Digital Screen Campus (DSC) will provide training for future leaders in film production, game development and cross reality, helping New Zealand play a key role in the future of digital screen convergence.

Responsible for overseeing the efficient development of all workstreams operating under the DSC umbrella, finding the right candidate for the Programme Manager was critical to the project.

“I have no doubt Chelsea will be a key player in guiding the DSC to profound success, to the betterment of our students, our university, and New Zealand as a whole,” says DSC Programme Director Professor Andy Phelps.

“This is the first of several strategic hires required as we curate the team necessary to execute our vision for the DSC, and I am excited to leverage Chelsea’s knowledge and expertise as she joins us on this journey.”

With more than a decade of experience in production, operations and regulatory affairs under her belt, Chelsea brings an extraordinary network of partners and collaborators in the game and media sector to the project team.

“I am thrilled to join such a competent and capable team, and to be part of the University of Canterbury’s investment in the future of innovative creative technologies,” she explains.

“As a life-long gamer, I’ve witnessed first-hand the ability for games and interactive media to tell powerful stories and build lasting connections between people and communities. Christchurch has all of the pieces necessary to build a vibrant, thriving screen community existing at the nexus between digital technology and creative storytelling.”

In addition to her role at the DSC, Chelsea will continue as Chairperson of the New Zealand Game Developer’s Association (NZGDA), an interactive media advocacy group whose membership includes more than 60 digital media and video game studios and 3,000 individual members. Elected in 2020, she works closely with government, tertiary education, trade organisations, and cross-industry partners to advocate for the interactive media industry.

Chelsea joins UC from CerebralFix Ltd., a Christchurch-based game studio responsible for mobile and digital location-based experiences for clients including Disney, Universal, DreamWorks and Pixar, where she worked as Head of Strategy and Business Development.

“It was my passion for games and technology that brought me to the NZGDA, where I’ve had the honour of advocating for the interactive media industry and its wealth of passionate creative entrepreneurs, programmers, designers, artists and storytellers. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to continue this work through the DSC and contribute to a project that will have such a profound impact on the future of the digital media industry in New Zealand.”

The University is also thrilled to formally welcome Petra Westropp as Project Manager of the DSC Innovation Hub.

Home to an incubator, accelerator and co-working space for creative industries, the Innovation Hub will bring academia, commercial partners, mentors and representatives from across the digital screen industries together to share workspaces and collaboration zones on campus.

“The Innovation Hub will provide users, including our students, the tools and expertise they need to ideate a concept, incubate a start-up, accelerate it and then run their company, and I’m hugely excited to be part of that journey,” Petra says.

Keith Longden, the University’s Executive Director of Planning, Finance and Digital Services, says appointing Petra to the role was an easy decision for the DSC project team.

“Having worked with Petra on the Digital Screen Campus project for almost two years, I’m confident her inherent proficiency and contacts in this space will bring significant value to a new and exciting endeavour for the University of Canterbury.”

Both Petra and Chelsea, alongside CerebralFix and local screen innovators Resonate and Pixel, were among the visionaries behind the recent Virtual Screen Production pilot, which was hosted on UC’s Dovedale Campus, the space that will become the Digital Screen Campus.

Chelsea and Petra join Programme Director Professor Andy Phelps on the DSC management team. The appointment of a Partnership and Commercial Manager is expected soon.

 

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