Art and entertainment in tomorrow's world will look and sound and feel quite different in many unexpected ways. To take full advantage of the potential of new media such as virtual reality, and of new combinations between the virtual and the material, writers, designers, actors, directors, musicians and others need new tools to build and to explore new worlds and to draw others into challenging, poetic and revealing experiences within these worlds.

During an intensive three-year research project, funded by the European Commission's i programme, the eRENA consortium worked together to build a new generation of these tools. Tools for planning, tools for producing, tools for managing and tools for understanding how art and entertainment will take shape in the 21st century.

The consortium was particularly concerned with large-scale participatory projects that can take place in real-time. A central strand in the work addressed how creating and controlling events in electronic environments differs from the traditional practices of filmmaking or theatre production. Also underpinning many of eRENA's initiatives was an embrace of the changing roles of performers and of the audience; in worlds combining the real and the virtual, the passive viewer is often encouraged to become an active participant.

The research was rigorous and far ranging, but it was always focussed by the imperatives of producing achieved performances and installations for audiences across Europe. Every stage of the research was exposed to and shared with viewers and users of all ages and interests – and their comments and reflections helped shape the partners' ongoing investigations.

eRENA brought together academic institutions in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and England, as well as a major corporate partner and a commercial SME. The results of its work were seen in galleries and concert halls, online and on mainstream television. Collaborators contributed from many other cultural worlds, including those of the traditional theatre, of avant-garde performance and of puppetry.