|The location of our plenary meetings|
We have so many beautiful and unique cities in the world. It would be a shame to try to wipe over their culture with something new, no matter how innovative. But of course, this doesn´t mean that it isn´t possible to be innovative within a city festival. Another valuable lesson from this morning, is that the best way to approach this, is to take each city on a case by case basis. Learn what that city is about, and what will interest the audiences already housed there, then progress onto thinking about how you can challenge them.
This is something that I really need to look into. As part of the Atelier experience, all participants were asked to produce a paper on their festival idea, and it´s from these papers that the discussions are arising. My paper, Art - Sincerely, The World, pitches the Broken Rose Festival, a biennial touring festival that travels worldwide, and aims only to present art that is somehow in collaboration with another art form and that has community participation at it´s heart.
|The beautiful offices of the Ljubljana Festival|
A number of the participants at this 5th edition of the Atelier have pitched the idea of a DIY Festival, or something similar, where the festival is made up completely of participatory art, or where the audience curate or programme all the shows. I´d never previously thought of the possibility of this before, but after this morningś conversations, a DIY Festival strand inside the Broken Rose Festival proposal is something else that I´d really like to experiement with. Our discussions touched upon how something like this needs to be given a rigourous framework, in order to ensure that it achieves what it aims for, and is not just a collection of "somebody´s cup of tea" or artists that do not necessarily fit together.
|The gardens of the Ljubjlana Fesitval offices|
Before we proceeded to an evening session at the Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet, Nele Hertling, Vice President of the Academy of Arts in Berlin reminded us of a question we need to ask if we are programming an international festival - Why would something be successful in the context of a certain city/geographical location? Too often programmers fall into the trap of bringing something new and innovative from a different geographical location, without considering whether it´s messages will apply in the context of a particular city or place. It´s another important reason to really get to know your host city and it´s venues before you begin programming.
Nele also suggested that festivals should keep their artists in the city for as long as possible, keeping them part of the festival just by their presence (and constantly exchanging with each other to create more legacies and international connections within the industry).
|The Slovene National Opera and Ballet|
Quite openly, he said that "We are comfortable with being occaisionally uncomfortable." I think this is a lesson that all potential artists, producers and festival directors should hold with them permanently - if you don't accept that you will be in tricky situations sometimes, you'll never break any new ground, and isn't innovation and new ideas what we're all about?
A day filled with insights was followed by an evening at a lovely Ljubljana restaraunt, with more insights (some artistic and some not so much!) into the lives and psyche's of my fellow participants. It is a pleasure to be here with such generous and inspiring people.
My attendance at the Atelier Young Festival Managers Conference is funded by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation - www.jerwoodcharitablefoundation.org