The digital revolution can provide fantastic marketing opportunities for creative firms, but may leave many smaller business vulnerable to piracy and theft, the director of a major Birmingham arts festival has said.

Writing in the Bimingham Post, Joanna Birch, director of the New Generation Arts festival, warned that an increased lack of control on intellectual property on the web left non-savvy artists vulnerable.

Ms Birch said: "Identity fraud, online fraud, nonpayment of work, all threaten to wreak havoc on an industry that previously had the processes and systems in place to ensure artists were financially compensated for their works.

"The legal issues around retaining this control are complex and whilst legal establishments have set up specialist practices in this area, the average individual trying to engage with their audience using this low-cost medium is unlikely to have access to such special-ist support."

Ms Birch's comments come in the run-up to the launch of the NGA festival on June 5. Entitled 'Digital Utopia', this year's event explores the challenges and opportunities of the digital generation.

Events involve a variety of art, music, performance and debate. The festival opens with 'And Now the News' at Birmingham's Town Hall, where original music is set to a live television news broadcast.

Ms Birch said the powerlessness some artists would face in the digital age was, however, mirrored by more opportunities to market to a global audience.

She said: "The web enables up and coming artists a voice and access to numerous platforms to showcase their work, bypassing elite collectors, galleries and music pundits.

"In addition to this, tools to virally market your product are now readily available, allowing artists to bypass traditional media outlets to publicise their product."

NGA events will also include an exhibition considering the implications of jewellery-makers and artists using computer-aided design, Rapid Prototyping and laser technology.

Artist Jane Prophet will look at the role played by natural structures in the development of digital technologies with her 20-foot centrepiece structure Trans(Plant), based on the physical characteristics of cow parsley.

Digital replaces analogue as images are presented on an array of LCD screens at the Custard Factory, raising issues about contemporary methods of engagement and visual presentation.

The photographers, Kwan Chun In Snorlax, Helen Berrow, John Garghan, Krystof Kriz and David Viney, will challenge the traditional understanding of a photographic exhibition by replacing paper with LCD screens for their event at the Custard Factory. The festival will also include an online 'emergent' game, devised specifically for the festival, which will rely on players' internet cunning - and soft, cuddly toys.

The opportunities of digital will be explored by The Big Debate, which will bring together expert panellists at the International Convention Centre on June 9.

"Digital Revolution: More Power or More Powerless?", which is sponsored by The NEC Group and The Birmingham Post, will be chaired by BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.

Mr Cellan-Jones said: "For people who are confident with the new technologies, there are all sorts of possibilities to become empowered.

"You only have to think of the sites set up by people to complain about products, from Dell Hell to people complaining about their iPods breaking down, and using that to get incredibly fast reactions from companies who in past years might have filed their letters in the bin.

"On the other hand, there is the privacy campaign on the web. The people who are interested in this make a lot of noise online and affect the terms of the debate."

Details on the festival can be found by logging on to