Arts and Encounters Academy

In recent years, production houses have increasingly come to see themselves not only as performance venues, but also as meeting places where people of all age groups, cultures and social backgrounds can gather to exchange ideas and explore new perspectives. In this process, the notion of participation as an artistic strategy has become firmly anchored in the concepts that drive the work of many production houses. As a result, a new job profile has emerged at the interface between public relations, dramaturgy and cultural mediation. In 2020, in order to do justice to this new line of work, the Alliance of International Production Houses (AIPH) decided to found the Arts & Encounters Academy, the aim of which is to analyse and further develop the artistic, social and political dimensions of this new professional field.

The multifaceted practices involved in fostering meaningful encounters at the AIPH’s various production houses are characterised by efforts to establish a sustainable and long-term relationship to their diverse audiences as well as to the unique environments at their respective locations. These efforts serve to break down barriers and facilitate cultural access in a number of different directions. The diversity of projects generating new forms of participation reflects the complexity of a professional field that is still emerging and defining itself. The tasks involved in these projects range from the artistic practice of exploring performative strategies of participation and collective authorship all the way to developing measures designed to generate public attention and larger audiences. Some examples of existing spaces that engage in this kind of collaboration are the Migrantpolitan at Kampnagel, the Kulturgarten at HELLERAU and the WerkStadt at PACT Zollverein. At these gathering spaces, knowledge is discussed in detail and experimented with in artistic ways as part of different modes of encounter and research. The Houseclub at HAU Hebbel am Ufer, the Residenzen im Realen at tanzhaus nrw, and the Neugier Abo at Mousonturm are other examples of this innovative approach. For its part, the FFT Düsseldorf prompted a paradigm shift recently when they launched their “Was ihr wollt” initiative, which invites a select group of audience members to determine the theatre’s programming for one full month.
The Arts & Encounters Academy will act as a forum for exchange and reflection on existing approaches, while also offering a framework in which to experiment with new and yet-to-be invented practices and tools. The academy’s key mission is to become a meeting place where members are encouraged to use artistic means to examine issues, attitudes and strategies relating to the democratic coexistence of individuals from different social contexts and backgrounds. The structures that form the basis of the projects themselves will be also be subjected to a critical analysis, and the importance of communication work within institutions will also be examined. In order to facilitate this process, the academy will make available the existing knowledge of the production houses and encourage participants to examine and further develop this knowledge in the form of practical thematic modules at a series of working sessions.

The Arts & Encounters Academy is geared towards individuals interested in discussing and developing joint strategies of participation at the interface between the arts and society. The academy invites everyone to contribute their expertise and insights, whether they be neighbours, activists, communicators, dramaturges, multipliers, educators, art enthusiasts or members of local communities.

Working Group „Arts and Encounters“: FFT – Katja Grawinkel-Claassen / Irina Barca | HAU – Stella Konstantinou / Volkan Türeli | HELLERAU – Moritz Kotzerke |Kampnagel – Claire Diraison / Anna Teuwen | Mousonturm – Leander Ripchinsky| PACT Zollverein – Caroline Wolter | tanzhaus nrw – Mijke Harmsen