Atelier Merano 2017 Paper: Strengthening Artist Support and Ensuring Inclusion & Diversity Withi
Over the past two years, I have worked as assistant producer on two international contemporary dance festivals that take place biennially in Glasgow, Scotland – Gathered Together 2016 and Dance International Glasgow 2017. Essentially, I will attend the Atelier as an independent and freelance producer, with the intention of reflecting on my experience with these two festivals and developing ideas for the future.
Having been a performer for the past 12 years and been lucky enough to visit many festivals across the globe, I have a particular appreciation of artist care and communication. I am interested in how we continue to nourish and build the relationship between programmers and artists. It is unquestionable for me that contact with artists is paramount to the quality and smooth running of any festival, organisation or venue. I believe it is the artists who have the most influence and impact on it's identity and reputation.
Inclusivity and diversity, in terms of professional artists, audiences and participants, is fundamentally what I believe will enrich the arts and culture, and perhaps everyday life, worldwide. Sometimes, people can feel intimidated take part, or that careers in the arts are unattainable, and I acknowledge that it our jobs to provide different levels of access for everyone to get involved and to be represented and visable in the work. We have to look at challenging perceptions by seeking out and presenting opportunities for artists, participants and audience members who are not already engaged and part of the existing networks.
Participation and engagement within local communities I believe is vital to the integration of the arts to everyday life. As people who are living within the arts world, we know the value of the arts as a catalyst for joy, social change, bringing people together and feeling good. What can we do to encourage everyone else onboard? How do we provide local communities with a sense of ownership and belonging in a festival? I would relish the opportunity to learn about different models of practice around this.
Another thing I am keen to address at the Atelier is the awareness of intense working periods, long hours and high pressure environments that festival management teams function in and I'd like to bring attention to that and discuss how this is managed – looking at effective processes, mutual care and sustainability of practice in this area. What are examples of, and ideas around, efficient or less efficent practices? Where are, and how can we, develop the support networks for producers and festival managers? What self-care is necessary to sustain a healthy working life? It seems apparent to me that many producers and creative directors work consistently above and beyond and I would like to ask what we can do to minimise the risks of this and support mental health and wellbeing?
I very much look forward to meeting everyone in Merano and discussing the above in more detail. My fundamental aim is to maximise the impact of the arts and I look forward to exploring the potential and discussing effective ways of doing that. It will be an exciting and unique opportunity for me to be able to draw on the experience of the mentors and fellow emerging managers. My objective is to bring inspired ideas and conversations back to present within the dance and festival landscape in Scotland. The opportunity to learn about Italia Festival as an interdisciplinary association of festivals nationwide will be facinating. Gaining insight to the Meraner Musikwochen –Settimane Musicali Meranesi, in it's classical music context will be something completely new and exciting for me.
See you in Merano!