Making it a point and acting on it, will make a difference
Invited panellists at the conference titled “Mobility for Creativity” discussed about the responsible mobility. The conference organised by Motovila in Ljubljana on 4–5 April 2019, explored the benefits and challenges of international mobility in the cultural and creative sector (CCS), especially putting mobility’s environmental impact to the test.
Neža Pajnič of CMEPIUS (SI) – an organisation that has mobility in its name – led the panel on Responsible Mobility, which represented a range of sectors from visual and performing arts to creative industries and AV/media, teasing out the panellists considerations on who should be responsible about mobility and what that responsibility means. The question wasn’t framed just in terms of the environment and the community but also in terms of artists and cultural professionals.
Ursula Maria Probst of Transcultural Emanicipation (AT) sees herself as an “initiator of transcultural cooperation”. Through the (sadly, soon to be defunct!) KulturKontakt, she organises AiR programmes for young artists to come to Vienna. With very meagre means (6000€/year) she brings 4 artists/year to engage in their artistic practice in Vienna for 3 months and present it in the form of billboards on the outer walls of the very public space of Fluc. Her project allows artists to do what they can’t do elsewhere in Vienna, since other billboards in the city can no longer be used for art or public interventions.
Gareth Lee talked about the activities of Screen Skills Ireland – SSI (IE) in Dublin and throughout Ireland, giving special attention to SSI’s support for international mobility as well as the Creative Europe MEDIA-funded Screen Leaders project, a national and international mentoring programme for those working in the AV sector. SSI aims to double turnover and employment in the Irish AV sector; thus, their programmes are created to facilitate that. Mobility is one part of making that possible. That said, SSI tries to focus on quality, inclusivity, diversity and gender parity as well as remain flexible. Challenges, of course, remain costs, the need for cohesive information, dissemination of works and environmental issues.
Alma R. Selimović says that for Bunker Institute (SI) and its partners, mobility is not a goal, but a means of achieving the desired goals. Their activities include productions, presenting performances at their venue Stara Elektrarna and on 2 international festivals of contemporary performing arts; throughout all, they try to be responsible to artists. She says, mobility is ingrained into every activity that we do. And while Bunker was once in a network addressing ecology, their view on mobility leans towards analysing the power relations and power structures that influence who can and can’t travel and why, who must travel and what is the outcome. Certainly, they aim to avoid falling into the trap of art tourism, yet, they don’t want mobility to be just more precarious work for artists, but as an opportunity. Often, many artists refuse to come to their festivals to give one performance only. At the same time, Bunker tries to make it a worthwhile exchange and networking opportunity for artists to stay the entire week, even if they are only performing once. Often they include workshops and other enrichment activities on their programme to create another layer.
Borut Jerman’s organisation PiNA (SI) works in a lot of fields – mobility, creative industries, social responsibility, entrepreneurship. Through their project Pina Terminal, they have been supported by Youth in Action and Erasmus+, moving 60 people a year. In the project Creative Climate Leadership supported by the Creative Europe programme, they worked with UK charity Julie’s Bicycle to create training courses in Wales and Slovenia with an aim to develop leaders who can move the sector towards more sustainable behaviour.
In the continuation, panellists voiced the importance of individual and social/political awareness that leads to action, calling for a simultaneous approach for reaching the same goals that is bottom-up and top-down. Is such a thing possible? Borut feels confident that by combining its awareness about sustainability and environmental issues with its creativity, the cultural sector has a lot to offer in terms of solutions. Alma sees that the problem is the solution at the same time. We live in a world that is not fair and not just. The panacea is the way to help, the exact thing that helps the sector. It’s too huge of an expectation of the creative field. It is not only the CSS’s problem or responsibility; all sectors are travelling. She questions why the sector that is the least powerful should be the one to take on this big burden? Gareth agrees that responsibility lies at all levels. While keeping the environmental impact in mind, something that came to the forefront of everyone’s minds during the conference, he also thinks we need to keep in mind the societal impact of our mobility endeavours. Ursula takes into consideration the impact on the artists, especially for those coming from outside of EU or who haven’t had many mobility experiences. She tries to fill in the gaps. She also reminds us that when we vote, we can also affect some change.
In terms of concrete things that we can do to “act responsibly”, Borut suggests, travel a little bit less but travel responsibly. If you go somewhere, try to make an impact. Use your mobility, fill in your programme as much as possible. Says Gareth, consider questions like who is travelling? Is the right person travelling? Will they get value from that? Ursula proposes communicating our societal impact can help to raise awareness. Alma believes that mobility should be artist led, not producer led. To find the right scheme for the right artist. If people can travel, do they wish to travel? Some travel all the time, some cannot travel, it’s good to make an effort so they can if they choose. She also mentions that sometimes the artistic concept can be adapted to integrate local people into a performance instead of an entire large company travelling. This can add another layer of impact. Borut remarked that in Slovenia, we don’t have the infrastructure to support being more ecological. In Wales, it is possible to find eco-friendly accommodation that is not considered luxury. Building awareness on all the levels could bring about positive change in such offerings.
Gareth reminded us that we haven’t mentioned the content. Is the content more inclusive because of mobility? Are audiences more inclusive? Sometimes the outcomes are over the long term. Sometimes the inspiration can take 10 years to manifest. We cannot know in advance the experience that we will make out of an opportunity for mobility.
In closure: The reality is that many different positive and negative impacts can come out only after years. Face-to-face cooperation brings positive impact. Results that last.
Even though we believe in it, is it really necessary? The right person, the right activity, the right destination, the right timing. Better planning, better organisation, more responsibility.
The event was organized by the Motovila Institute in cooperation with Arts and Theatre Institute / CED CZ, DutchCulture / CED NL, Centro de Informacão Europa Criativa / CED PT, CED Ireland – MEDIA Office Dublin, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia / CED HR, Federal Chancellery of Austria, Arts and Culture / CED AT, SCCA–Ljubljana and CMEPIUS.