Guide to international platforms
By Susanne Danig
This section is about gathering knowledge about the platforms for performing arts that exist out there: showcases, agencies, various organisations, residencies and educational activities. Dig in and investigate to learn more about this exciting part of our business. This is not a section that will cover everything (this is simply impossible). We have picked examples and will keep adding appropriate information.
Attending showcases is a great way to get new contacts and make an effort to sell your performances. But be aware that they are highly professional and focussed on selling, and attending is an investment. We highly recommend that you do your research and get advice from people who have attended the platforms and know their way around. You also need to have done your preparation in terms of your strategy work and have all your promotional material ready. It is possible to attend just as a visitor to check the showcases out and prepare for professional networking and selling the next time around.
Participating in a showcase means having an exhibition booth, which has to be manned during all the opening hours of the exhibition area. This is often hard to do alone. We recommend becoming part of any joint Danish or Nordic stand when possible. (See the Upgrade video about joint participation in Tanzmesse). Make sure you bring some great printed material (short) and a tablet to show video material on (on the current work or a showreel of several works
There have been major, very successful collaborations among the Nordic countries to do joint showcases on selected platforms: in Denmark the Arts Council is part in this partnership. An element of this collaboration is the publication of a joint catalogue called MADE IN for Nordic performing, organised by the Swedish organisation Loco World. MADE IN – the web is now a digital platform, with regular newsletters going out to a large number of promoters. We recommend joining this online catalogue and updating the information about your work and your touring info, especially if you work in the field of dance.
The best way to profit from the opportunities that a showcase offers is to be part of the showcase, which means not only distributing materials there, but applying to be part of the official showcase programme, or somehow joining the formal or informal off programme. The Danish Arts Council has been taking the initiative to organise, by itself or in collaboration with Nordic organisations, “off-showcases” connected to established international showcases.
Be in plenty of time if you want to apply to show performances at a showcase. You have to apply early for open calls or organise your own performance space, and you have to secure the funding. The Arts Council has been supporting participation in showcases and might do calls for applications for either showing your performance or just attending in person.
If you have the resources, an alternative to the above is to organise showcases on your own (some Danish companies have done that), either presenting your repertoire for a number of international promoters and agents, or just inviting specific promoters or agents to attend the premiere of your new production or presentations of your shows while on tour.
APAP/Association of Performing Arts Professionals, NY, USA
The APAP showcase takes place in NY in January every year along with several performing arts festivals like Under the Radar and American Realness. It is a huge platform with an enormous exhibition area, that it is quite hard to sell from. But if you have the right commercial work and aim at selling in USA, this might be the showcase for you. www.apap365.org
APAM is taking place every second year. Next time will be in 2020 i Melbourne.
CINARS is taking place in even years in November as a showcase that runs for 6 days. The platform is quite international in scope, but of course has a lot of Canadians participating. Most of the work is dance and new-circus. It is possible to buy an exhibition stand (and the Danish Arts Council has for some years supported a joint Danish/Nordic stand) and it is also possible to be part of the showcase, however only by showing an excerpt. You can also try to perform at the small OFF-CINARS, which gives you more control over the presentation.
Fira Tàrrega is an institution within street-art. It is a festival and showcase that since 1981 every year for 4 days the second weekend of September has taken over the rather small town of Tárrega. There is an official program with 50 shows (50% Catalan, 25% Spanish, 25% international) for street and unconventional spaces – and there is an open call for proposals. In recent years they have started an extended co-producing program for emerging artists and this has an international focus also. There is fair space called La Llotja, where more than 300 theatres are represented and around 800 professional attends every year. This is supplemented with a whole range of seminars and meetings. Fira Tárrega is a member of several networks and interesting EU projects.
PAMS is a yearly sales platform for dance, performance, music and theatre taking place in Seoul in October. It is the biggest and most important showcase in Asia and it is organized by Korean Arts Management Service (KAMS). There are exhibition stands, speed-dating and roundtable discussions and performances organised by PAMS but also by the festivals SIDance and SPAF. There is an open call for the showcase. In 2019 there will be a special Danish focus.
Tanzmesse is for dance and movement based work. It takes place in even years in the end of August. Is has a big exhibition area with stands. Denmark has for some years had a Danish stand organised by Projektkontoret in Dansehallerne. There is an open call for presenting shows. Tanzmesse is one of the most important platforms in Europe for dance.
TPAM is happening every year in February and is focussed on Asian performing arts. It combines the curated TPAM program with a fringe festival and Yokohama Dance Collection.
ICE HOT is for Nordic dance works and has been hosted by the different Nordic countries. The next edition is in Reykjavik in December 2018. There will be a presentation of dance works from all of the Nordic countries curated from an open call. There will also be seminars, talks and networking.
EdFringe is not as such a showcase, it is a presenting festival that has come out of Edinburgh International Festival, an old high level festival that takes place at the same time. If you want to present at EdFringe you have to find a space to perform, and that can be a big task, where you will need to know a bit about the festival and the spaces to perform in. You will typically get income from selling tickets. There are very many performances showed at EdFringe – and you will need to know how to promote your show. The Fringe Society supports the groups performing by providing info and useful knowledge about the festival. The Danish company Wildtopia has an ambition of producing a Nordic showcase under EdFringe in 2019.
Like Edinburgh the Avignon festival has a fringe festival called Festival Off d’Avignon leaning up against the old estimated festival. And in many ways it works the same way as in Edinburgh (but in French). You will probably need to have an agent who presents your show and help you organise everything.
The creative production and promotion company Wildtopia has made a small guide to selected international platforms (PDF) in which they have compiled their acquired knowledge on this subject and relevant tips for you who are going to an international platform.
If you find a good agent that really understands your artistic work and does the right thing to present and sell it internationally, you are in luck. Agents are highly specialised people with great networks that they will open up for you, if you match their taste and style. It is equally hard to find the right agent and convince them to take you on. You have to investigate thoroughly and build up relationships over a longer period of time. They will also need to see your work: probably more than one performance. You also have to take care that you find a solid agent who is respected in the market, or you might ruin your own reputation. You need to be sure that they respect you, your work and the agreements you have made.
Agents will usually have a group of artists in the same area of work – dance, contemporary circus, street art, physical theatre, opera etc. – as they have built up specialist networks in the particular areas. They may also specialise in specific regions of the world, and only sell performances in, say, France. You need to make sure they match your genre and international strategy.
Agents can be focussed on selling work, but they can also be associated with the curating of festivals and/or producing. They may only want to sell one particular show they love, or a whole range of your artistic work and take part in developing your new works. They may work on commission (typically 15% of sales), they may ask for a fixed fee or they may go more in for co-producing schemes and fundraising, thereby becoming a creative producer for you.
Agreements with agents are very individually based and you will have to be very precise in drafting the official documents. Seek legal advice on this issue. What is part of the package in an agreement differs from agent to agent. Be precise in what their obligations are and what yours are, and be sure to honour your part (delivering the right professional material, making sure the performance is at their disposal to make agreements etc.). Remember you are also backing their reputation, so if you cancel a show, it will backfire on them. On the other hand, if you help build their reputation, that will benefit both them and you.
Agents are about deep trust and dedication. Your relationship with an agent should be a long-term one, built on commitment from both sides. You will need to keep your agent close and be honest about what you are doing, and what your future plans are. Do not try to sell behind your agent’s back. S/he will find out and your reputation will be ruined. Respect the agreements you make with him/her.
More and more Danish groups have agents and they often have more than one: specialists in different markets. Here is a list of some selected agents who have some contact with Denmark and know something about Danish performing arts.
Agente129 is a performing arts agency based in Barcelona, focusing on the distribution of performing arts projects on the international market. They present contemporary dance and theatre works, and works for all kinds of spaces; indoor, outdoor and site specific.
Agent focusing on opera and dance and operating in Germany, Austria & Switzerland. Agent for Dansk Danseteater.
Aurora Nova lead by Wolfgang Hoffmann is a theatre booking agency and consultancy firm based in Berlin. It specialises in bringing physical theatre, contemporary circus and new theatrical formats to festivals and venues worldwide. Has brought several performances to Denmark.
CultureLink is a multi-dimensional arts producing, management and consulting agency lead by Goh Ching Lee and based in Singapore. It is edicated to connecting inspiring ideas, people, and places across cultures and continents. CultureLink is engaged in creative content design and curation, artist touring and management, festivals and events development, international cultural exchange, advocacy, training and research. Hotel Pro Forma uses them as agent.
Danig Performing Arts Service lead by Susanne Danig is a creative producing company focussed on international strategy developement and mentorships, who also supports artist in selling shows internationally and has a wide network within movement based work, performance, streetart and new-circus.
David Berga represents a variation of shows in the area of street-art. Some have been presented at Waves and Passage festivals. He has also been agent for Paolo Nani in the Spanish area.
Frans Brood Productions is a theatre agency in Ghent under direction of Gie Baguet. The focus is both on contemporary dance productions and a range of theatre, circus and open air entertainment on the street or at special locations. Many of his productions have been shown at the Waves Festival.
GHP represents a variety of theatre, comedy and music productions and is specialised in introducing unique and exciting new large scale work to international audiences worldwide and bringing international work to the UK. GHP is agent for the Blam! production of Kristján Ingirmarsson outside Europe, WILDTOPIA is agent for the show in Europe.
Jane P. Hermann, USA
Agent for Danish Dance Theatre in the USA. Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Performance was started by Koen Vanhove based in Sweden and joined by Julia Asperska based in Polen and Maarten Van Cauwenberghe in Belgium. They represent the Cullberg Ballet from Sweden and a lot of other dance groups.
M.O.ving Arts/Malco Oliveros, South America
Danish based Malco Oliveros has established a comprehensive network in Latin America, and has lately been promoting and bringing Nordic groups to this region of the world. Mail: email@example.com
Established in 2006 by Sarah Ford and based in Paris. Quaternaire is a creative producing and international booking agency. They represent contemporary, innovative cross-art form productions (operas, concerts, dance, theatre, performances, visual arts, etc.) and works for renowned names such as Hotel Pro Forma.
Van Basbank was founded by Jaap and is now primarily lead by his son Kas, who has lots of connections in Denmark. It is specialised in presenting international multidisciplinary performing arts. It is not a traditional agency, they do have artists represented, but mostly they organise tours in Holland as well as being connected to the Julidans international festival.
WILDTOPIA is a creative production and promotion company led by Gitte Nielsen and Karen Toftegaard. It was founded in 2018 and promotes shows for a.o. Kristján Ingimarsson Company, Boaz Barkan. It also advices artists, companies and institutions in developing international strategies – a.o. Line Tjørnhøj.
OTHER ORGANISATIONS AND IMPORTANT PROJECTS
AEROWAVES & SPRING FORWARD
Aerowaves is a hub for discovering European Dance established by John Ashford from The Place in London. It is a network organisation focused on emerging dance artists. Aerowaves releases an annual open call for emerging choreographers working in geographic Europe who want to become one of the Aerowaves Twenty. These selected artists are promoted by Aerowaves for a year. Presenting partners of the Aerowaves Network programme at least three of the Aerowaves Twenty performances in their venues or festivals. Aerowaves’ three day festival Spring Forward is held in a different European city in April every year. At least 10 of the Aerowaves Twenty are invited to perform at Spring Forward, alongside others from previous years. In addition to local audiences about 100 programmers from Europe and further away attend the festival.
Artsadmin was established in 1979 by Judith Knight, who still leads the organisation based in London. It is a producing/agent/advisory unit that enables artists to create without boundaries, producing bold, interdisciplinary work to share with local, national and international audiences. The advisory service supports artists at every stage of their development with free advice and opportunities. At Toynbee Studios Artsadmin has established a centre for the creation, rehearsal and presentation of new work. They regularly send out a newsletter consisting of different open calls and funding possibilities – worth following.
It can be recommended to be aware of which cities are the future ECoC cities, since they often have programs of collaborations and calls for participation. This webpage will give you a whole range of information on the city programmes.
NCoAM, run by the Swedish organisation SITE is a collaboration project between Nordic Dance organisations. A capacity building programme for choreographers and producers in that field. The Danish partner is Projektcentret i Dansehallerne. The networks’ partners, participants and mentors can be a good gateway into dance in the Nordic region.
OTM is a cultural mobility information network with 40 members in over 20 countries across Europe and internationally. They encourage and facilitate cross-border mobility and cooperation, contributing to building up a vibrant and shared European cultural space that is trongly connected worldwide. OTM website is full of great resources and information to use when you move around in the world and needs to plan it.
Artistic residencies have become intrinsic to many artistic careers, and in recent years the field has developed in the area of performing arts. Residency programmes as such play an important role in facilitating and catalysing artists’ ability to move across the world. They connect artists with local arts scenes, thereby spurring the development of new networks and other working possibilities. Residencies are an invaluable adjunct to short-term cultural exchanges, as artists can develop a deeper understanding of their host societies and cultures.
Residencies provide artists and other creative professionals with time, space and resources to work, individually or collectively, on areas of their practice that reward heightened reflection or focus. Residency programmes typically offer accommodation, artistic coaching, production support and/or presentation facilities. Increasingly, residencies are thematic with the artists in residency working with other artists, scientists, and professionals from a range of disciplines and sectors and/or working within defined communities on specific themes. Artistic residencies may ask for a tangible outcome, like an art production, an exhibition, a project, a workshop, a collaboration or may state that there are no prescribed outcomes.
Performing Arts residencies are often shorter than in other disciplines (perhaps 2-4 weeks) and typically involve a group of people. It is especially for younger artists a great way to build a production up in several stages with research and rehearsals over a period of time, taking place in different locations all over the world.
This are important asses the residence place should offer:
- easy accessibility to space, ideally 24/24 hours;
- the possibility to take in the space by not sharing it and being able to leave stuff and do setups for a longer period of time.
- offering a private and protected atmosphere that respects the artistic work
- basic technical equipment, such as sound, light and video installation etc
- accompanying living conditions such as good accommodation, kitchen, office/working space, public transport
- Support for organizing meetings with local artists and making new connections
We are linking to a handbook on artistic residencies, that offers a great deal of information on different types of residencies, new trends, practical information on how to prepare for a residency and follow up on it, funding and a long list of recommended residency centres.
Res Artis is the main association for artist residency centres with over 650 centres, organisations, and individuals in over 70 countries. Many of them offer residencies for performing artists. Through Res Artis, organisations become part of a global community of colleagues engaged in dialogue through face-to-face meetings and virtually through online presence. The website of Res Artis has extensive information and resources, you can see the profiles of members and get informed about events and application deadlines. –
On IETMs webpage you can search for residency centres and get a good list of performing arts specific centres.
Nordic Culture Point gives support to different residencies in the Nordic area – this links to the application form. But you can also search for residencies that has received support.
A good way to build up your capacity and networks internationally is by taking part in educational programmes in EU or globally. There is a whole range of possibilities – here is a couple of suggestions for performing arts managers.
Every summer for producers and managers taking their first steps in the world of international exchange.
Trans Europe Halles