In 2021 for the first time we presented a digital programme at MANIPULATE festival, owing to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This format change allowed artists to explore a new domain, experimenting with reaching our audiences from behind a screen and playing with form. Over the course of 7 days we presented 12 digital theatre shows, 5 works-in-progress, 22 animated films and 3 online workshops.

Alongside this we produced a kinetic sculpture artwalk with eight commissioned artworks by Scottish artists, entitled Restless Worlds, which visited Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow.

Digital theatre productions included The End of TV by Manual Cinema (USA), Unboxed by Ariel Doron (Israel), Crunch by Sita Pieraccini (Scotland), The Lonely Sailor Weather Report by the Lonely Sailors (South Africa), Today I Bake by Lotus Stone Productions (Scotland) and Drackattack by LARDS (Scotland). In partnership with SURGE we presented two live-streamed works in progress, tank by Zoe Bullock and Alice Langely (Scotland) and Ballad of the Crone by Leonor Estrada Francke (Scotland).

In our animation programme we presented Animated Highlights in partnership with Edinburgh Short Film Festival and a brand new international shorts programme; Animated Womxn, celebrating the work of brilliant female and non-binary animators from around the world. Three new works in development were presented through our Snapshots programme: The Yellow Canary by Tashi Gore, Will Gore and Ross MacKay, Engine:Offline Memory Processor by MHz and Ill Lit by Kasia Zawadzka (all from Scotland).

Moving online allowed us to reach audiences over a broader area than ever before, with people from 39 countries tuning in, allowing us to double our usual reach for the festival.