September 27, 2013
There is an still an ongoing debate on the mobility of artists and artistic productions.
Within the European Union, both on national and international level there are several programs to support mobility. Only with the cultural program of the European Commission thousands of artists travel all around the world in each year. Local cultural venues have also international programs, we can reach foreign artistic products almost in all major cities. The numerous international organizations – who are active on cultural field – had improved a strong network among national organizations, which helps the implementation of cross-border initiatives.
Although the financial crisis, combined with the less emphasized crisis regarding social values, has slowed down this process, there is a clear interest in these organizations to overcome the difficulties considering their international co-productions, as well as co-programing. From this point of view, the crisis had a positive effect on international mobility. It can easily happen- as in other sectors – the ‘business as usual’ approach will not appear again in the cultural sector. However, as creative industry, we can turn the difficulties to our advantage! I believe that we have to think about it and try to find new alternatives regarding the mobility of artistic productions.
If we talk about the mobility of arts, we usually mean the mobility of artists and artistic productions. The aims of such projects are usually the following:
In general I will consider the second priority in this short presentation, but – as you will see – it can be the answer for the other aim, too.
In Central-East Europe we are in a special situation, like e.g. in the Benelux states: Regarding Budapest, there are four other capitals which are available within four hours by cheap transportation. Meanwhile the new tendencies in aviation industry also transform entire Europe into a much more cross-connected area, where mobility becomes much cheaper.
On the other hand, the reception of cultural products is influenced by the circumstances. We should also consider that the venue of performances or exhibitions have a great impact on the audience, too. The audience of international productions more often chooses by the venue than the production itself. Although the contemporary performing art is often presented in a ‘black box’ all over the word, we cannot separate it from the atmosphere and image of the given institution. Just to clarify, if we present a classical performance in a venue, which is known as contemporary art, the audience will translate it rather as a modern critic.
These two phenomena raise the question, why we do not review the current mobility structures. We should find other approaches to achieve the same goals and in the meantime to overcome the difficulties. Arts’ mobility can be implemented also as the mobility of:
In the following paragraphs I will present two projects, which are (partly) dealing with the abovementioned ‘tools’.
Although the trans-national mobility within the European Union reaches new peaks almost every year and citizens are traveling for several reasons, the cultural activities are not among them. We have to search for instruments to emphasize mobility of the audience among different regions. It means both organizing and funding their transportation to other countries. Audience mobility is already common at (pop)music festivals, but it is less developed in contemporary art.
Difficulties – and the possible solutions:
There are difficulties also regarding the audience mobility. Here are some, with the possible solutions:
Pro Progressione with its partner organizes audience mobility actions since 2008.
We have already implemented more than 25 audience-exchange programs, with mobilizing more than 1.000 people. We transport the audience to festivals and different programs of other organizations. In the recent years we have experienced this is working well: Even without our help, the audience started to organize themselves, even without financial support
We have also added other elements to the core idea, e.g. small actions during the trips (e.g. amateur dance performances at gas stations, presented by the audience).
Mobility of venue:
Although it is hard to imagine a mobile venue – usually they require a building, which is obviously not mobile – but with a more flexible approach, a venue can be mobile in different ways:
Now, we will review the last one, a venue which moves physically from city to city.
Difficulties – solutions:
The new project of eight civil and cultural organizations, called ‘RIVE’ had chosen a ship to become a cultural venue. The plan is, supported by the European Commission also to establish a cultural entity which is travelling along the most important river of Europe, the Danube in 2014.
We have linked the program to the river, as other venues are linked to cities. The theme of our program is directly linked to the Danube. With this idea, our aim is to establish a cultural entity, which has a unique cultural identity. The program will consists not only of several countries but also of interdisciplinary programs. We work with video, performing, fine arts and music to create a unique performance, involving special potential of the vessel and the river.
The main aim of the current publication was to re-think the mobility in culture. We have inversely approached the most common systems, as we described also the opportunities of mobility at the other side of the ‘cultural supply-chain’. We examined the mobility of audience and venues and we have summarized also some benefits of these actions, likewise the possible risks and difficulties. The main aim of these programs is to share art products and to minimalize the impact of local circumstances on the perception of the visitors.
We strongly believe in the potential of such programs, because they can make the current cultural life more diversified and to ensure that the output will be more accessible. But we find it very important to emphasize that any of these solutions will never replace the mobility of artists. They are more likely filling a gap, to offer a broader cover for our audience. Only a good mixture of different mobility programs can be acceptable, where networks (from artists to audience) are established among all participants.
In the future we will continue the testing of these actions and we would like to go further to push their present limits. We believe that these programs should be accepted as complete and full mobility actions and they have to be considered in cultural policy making.
Barna Petrányi. Born in 1983 in Hungary. He studied finances at the Corvinus University in Budapest. After working at different cultural institutions, including profit-oriented festival organizers and an independent contemporary dance company, he founded Pro Progressione in 2008. The non-profit organization coordinates several international programs and cooperation on the field of contemporary performing arts.
 in case of a festival, performers from neighborhood country can help
 Especially in case of smaller settlements, where the wider range of cultural service can be offered with the help of other institutions across the border
 More frequently between two festivals with similar focuspoints
 The mobility actions are integrated parts of the program of each organization
 Sometimes only the information is missing, and then the audience will gather on bottom-up methodology
 We have defined several options above
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