N.O.W New Open Working

New Open Working process for the performing arts

We are a group of skilled cultural professionals working in the field of the performing arts.

All of us accompany and support artists, whether as producers, festivals, receiving houses or residential spaces, institutional or private structures, single-purpose or hybrid, on-going or temporary, young professionals or those with greater experience.

The form of this support, and the moment where each of us may intervene in the professional journey of the artist or the artistic process, clearly differs from case to case, depending on our missions and goals. However, we all work closely, over the long haul with both the artists and their creative processes. We are all involved, directly or indirectly, in defining the artistic project, its structure and its development. The challenges of this artistic process lie at the very heart of skills and daily activities, as do the ways in which we seek to support the mobility of the artists, the dissemination of the work and the approach to training.

We have decided to federate our forces, and thus to create the necessary conditions to develop our practices and our professions. Our aim is to better understand the time of socio-economic change and European crisis we are living through.

A more specific question brings us together: what might an artist’s journey look like in a larger, globalised and ever-changing Europe? More to the point, what does it mean, and indeed will it mean over the coming years, to accompany artists and their processes – to support the unfolding of their work? How can we provide a positive impulse for our societies and our democracies and contribute to building a European artistic environment that is diverse, creative and socially rooted?

We propose to set up a transnational laboratory platform to explore new ways of supporting artists and their processes.

By setting up this integrated task force and thereby creating a face-to-face meeting with our respective practices, we hope on one hand to analyse in depth and in context the current situation, and on the other hand we want to experiment with new models of action with chosen artists, artistic communities, cultural places and the wider public. Through this cooperation we seek to make operational our practices at the European level, and thereby assume our responsibilities to contribute to a strong and lively Europe, one that is open to the rest of the world.

Artistic creation – an environment in flux

Artistic and cultural Europe is going through major changes everywhere across the continent. The ways in which art is made, the conditions for its creation, the dissemination of the work and circulation of artists are caught between the impact of globalisation and the deep current crisis (particularly in national and local public finances). The environment is thus being profoundly transformed, shaken up and destabilised. This applies to the very economic organisation and methods of regulation.

We are living in constant movement, which affects both artists and those who accompany them. We are moving out of an almost static situation (in terms of values and established criteria) into a logic of flux, processes and trajectories. Every day we must face up to the speed differentials between economic flows, the institutional rhythm, the time scale of artistic production and the renewal of techniques.

In parallel, scales are evolving and the relationship is changing between the players, all of which tests the institutional and national frameworks. Cultural processes increasingly play out within a “regionalised”, transnational, even global context, much of which is beyond the reach of national policies. Both individuals and businesses are now the vectors that carry interpersonal relations via social networks, which interact hugely at both the local and international scale.

In this context the support mechanisms for the artist are often out of date and face difficulties in renewing themselves. Some are collapsing under the weight of the crisis. There is an exponential growth in the market offer across a range of new artistic formats. Regulation is increasingly based on a market-focused logic. As there is both instability and change, a quantitative approach also dominates research and the heart of the artist’s craft is undermined. The space for experimentation, so central to art, ends up being denied its place. There is thus a risk that the artwork will be reduced to a series of products, where neither the working process, nor the long-term research dimension is valued. The focus thus shifts purely to the market aspect and the product outputs.

While being stakeholders in these changes, we are also called upon to “rethink” the reality that surrounds us and to understand its complexity in order to better apply some transversal thinking. This requires all sectors, at all levels to renegotiate their existence in an interactive and interdependent whole. We thus have to rethink all of our models (‘creation, production, mediation etc), references, artistic and cultural practices (the relationship between public and private, the evaluation criteria, indicators etc). This forces us to rethink and adapt our institutions and our social organisation as well as the linkages between civil society and the institutions.

Culture and the arts cannot escape the effects of the current European crisis – and we see an opportunity here. The idea of immaterial progress is replacing the goal of material progress and measures of human development are taking over from economic growth. These changes call for a more individual tailored response. Such a response necessarily demands the collective involvement of all stakeholders. It requires democratic principles anchored in the rule of law. Thus the ambition to see the emergence of fundamental European Cultural Rights is a core issue we seek to address. What are our responsibilities faced by such issues? How can we put forward and defend our skills and expertise in the area? More generally, what are the indicators that would allow our practices to be evaluated? Who are the beneficiaries and on what basis? What allows us to work and to what end? How can we re-appropriate these measures?

2013 August • LOKAL, Reykjavik, Iceland
2013 October • TRAFO, Budapest, Hungary
2014 January • LOCO WORLD, Stockholm, Sweden
2014 Spring • A PROPIC, Tilburg, Holland
2014 June • LATITUDES CONTEMPORAINES, Lille, France
2014 September • INDISCIPLINARTE, Terni, Italy
2015 January • WP ZIMMER, Antwerp, Belgium
2015 May • FABBRICA EUROPA, Florence, Italy

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