ENICPA is a European network for information centers for the performing arts, and it holds an annual meeting in which members can present their running projects, exchange ideas, and discuss a theme, which is “communication strategies in attracting audience to the performing arts” in 2017. Here are my personal key take-aways from the annual meeting beginning of November 2017.
The nice thing about touring-artists.info is that is does not present itself as (yet another) website, but brands itself as a handbook. The handbook (obviously) does not answer the specific questions of individual artists or organisations. However, artists that actually inform themselves via the handbook still have questions, but much more specific for their case. Since touring-artists.info is not giving tailored advice, how can these specific and concrete questions be answered? Touring-artists.info set up a collaboration with smart.de, who offer a free intake session.
Maison de la danse in Lyon is working with a gamification strategy to create the audience of tomorrow by engaging youngsters through a choreographer game. You gain points and experience, and with these points you can develop a career as a dancer or choreographer. It will be exciting to witness the launch of this platform in February 2018.
TINFO (Finnish Theater Institute) experimented with a social media campaign around a hashtag to share experiences in theatre. It turns out keeping a hashtag alife is hard work. Also, it was not easy to convince people to participate, because it is very uncertain what will or might come out of such a campaign. To make it a success, one has to embrace that uncertainty.
From here, we got to talk about how a younger generation of artists is using social media, at the same time, to promote their work but also to document creation processes and artistic output. I raised the question how information and documentation centers should deal with this situation: should a documentation center store the instagram accounts of young makers?
The Polish theatre instute presented how they contribute to a project on a technical solutions for linking data from theatre companies, e.g. production data, ticket sales data, accounting data, etc. It is impressive technical work (somewhat aligned with what the E-cultuur initiative in Flanders wants to do). But, as in Flanders, I find it a pity that there is no prior “capacity building” to learn what added value can be gained from linking that data, nor is there an education project in place to teach the data owners, i.e. the companies and theatres, how to use their own linked data. Also a warning about too much focus on ticket sales data, figures about the amount of tickets sold are only to be used in a responsible way.
Russian Theater Union
An awesome book titled “To Moscow” about how to cooperate with Russian theatres and festivals. Moreover, they have three seperate websites that are each tailored to another kind of audience, which I find smart.
In comparison to other sectors, the cultural sector has a hard time producing quantitative facts about international mobility. Since policy makers often decide to distribute funds on the basis of such numeric facts, the lack of a number about international mobility in the cultural sector might be harmful.
However, producing such a number is difficult, because it is complex to define what international mobility is for the cultural sector. Is international mobility the amount of artists working in another country than they were born in? Is it the amount of times a production is performed abroad? Is it the amount of international coproducers of a production? Could it be that international mobility is different per country, e.g. going from Bratislava to Brussels to study at prestiguous P.A.R.T.S. versus a collaboration between NTGent in Flanders and Toneelhuis in The Netherlands to raise enough money to make the production?
Therefore, as a first step, we decided to try to decompose the concept of international mobility in the cultural sector (at least for the performing arts). By decomposing it, we hope to identify aspects of international mobility that could be fit for “quantitative metrics”, and which can thus be reported to policy makers; while also identifying those aspects of international mobility that should be treated in a qualitative way.
All in all, it was an interesting meeting, learning what other similar organisations are doing, and seeing that they are struggling with the same issues. The meeting next year will be in Poland, since the performing arts are facing some difficulties there, due to the political climate.