Unlimited Impact Trainee Emily attended the IETM Valencia Plenary Meeting On 3rd-5th November 2016 with Clara Giraud, Unlimited Project Manager, and Tony Heaton, CEO of Shape. IETM (aka the Informal European Theatre Meeting) is an international network of organisations and individual members working within contemporary performing arts. Twice a year it organises ‘meetings’ across Europe, as a gathering point to meet, discuss current issues, and exchange ideas for collaboration. Emily shares her lessons learnt from navigating her first large professional international gathering.
1)Registration is a great place to feel the waters …
544 international delegates gathered from across 45 different countries (from Armenia to Uruguay!) provided ample opportunities to forge new connections.
2) Never get hungry, it’s a killer for networking vibes.
Thankfully the organisers provided fresh tangerines everywhere – essential for keeping the energy going between sessions!
3) Keep practicing those languages learnt at school!
Feeling rather privileged that sessions were primarily conducted in English, the opening keynote speech presented an amusing challenge trying to translate third-hand from Spanish, to English via headsets, and finally British Sign Language, gamely taken on by two fantastic BSL interpreters, Katie Fenwick and Marie Pascall.
4) Engage with the local culture.
The evening schedule provided opportunities to check out the Valencian performing arts scene. Highlights include ‘Cul Kombat’ using a combination of circus and comedy to address gender issues, and the amazing recreation of a Mac Desktop onstage by Cris Blanco’s ‘Bad Translation’.
This gave me a new way to contextualise the issues from the sessions, particularly when the evidence surrounds you, such as the seeping gentrification of the Cabanyal neighbourhood. It also helps balance the heavier topics by celebrating the artistic talents, vision and cultural identities unique to the region.
5) ‘Is it accessible?’
It is always worth conference organisers considering potential audience and including those details pertaining to accessibility – accessible routes, entrances/buildings, are there any subtitles, captioned or signed events, is the information legible and clear? IETM provided maps and advice and were really helpful. Even though the logo portrayed steps rather than ramps…the secret is in the detail!
(More info on Accessible Marketing can be found on our previous blog here)
6) Do things differently!
Break away from the norm… One of my highlights was the ‘Newsround’ session, which allowed 30 professionals 3 minutes each to pitch their projects for potential collaborators. However, whether deconstructing the podium, or a brief performance – breaking away from conventional formats helps stands out of the crowd for the audiences who are seeing so many different presentations. The sheer range of the pitches was awe-inspiring, proving that in spite of ever going threats – funding cuts, globalisation, and censorship – creativity cannot be stifled.
I left Valencia feeling elated, yet challenged. This cultural exchange point provided many moments of reflection on social, economic and environmental issues on a much wider scale.
For instance, this was the first time that IETM opened the discourse on arts and disability, which left me feeling appreciative of how far we have come in the UK, and yet conscious of how much more there is to do, and whether such change can be achieved on an international level. Though we scratched the surface in Valencia, I am hopeful that this remains on the agenda at future IETMs.
Overall, as the Unlimited Impact trainee, I am very grateful to have had this experience, an opportunity that broadens the mind as well as my horizons!
Could you be the next Unlimited Trainee? We are currently recruiting people to join our team, more info here.