The Rijeka Art Incubator on “Site-specific Theatre Practices and Audiences” took place from September 10th – 19th in Rijeka organised by the Creative Laboratory of Contemporary Theatre KRILA from Rijeka. It brought the group of ten (10) selected resident artists together with ten (10) local and regional artists: Sendi Bakotić (Rijeka), Andrea Crnković (Rijeka), Maja Kalafatić (Celje/Beograd), Nika Korenjak (Ljubljana/Zagreb), Iva Korbar (Zagreb), Maja Kovač (Zagreb), Frane Meden (Pula), Uroš Mladenović (Novi Sad), Kristina Paunovski (Rijeka), Miljena Vučković (Novi Sad). The entire lab featured twenty (20) artists from nine (9) European countries: Austria, Croatia, France, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain.
The goals of the Rijeka Lab were:
- Resident artists to share their creative practices and explore their creative ideas among themselves and in collaboration with artistic collaborators of the Lab (Artistic Module – 1st part)
- Participating artists to share their created works in the form of work in progress presentation on 17th Sep 2019 (Artistic Module – 2nd part) and get some feedback from the local audiences.
- To raise awareness among participating artists of unutilized creative and innovative potential of the contemporary theatre practices in developing audiences (Audience Development element)
- To identify follow-up cooperation projects among the Make a Move Art Incubator participants (Business Module)
Rijeka Lab was comprised of two modules: Artistic and Business Module through which the element of Audience Development was imbued. The Artistic Module focused on the exchange of different contemporary performance practices and artistic approaches within the context of site-specific theatre. Following the topic of the Lab, Artistic Director Ivana Peranić and her team of artistic collaborators Monica Giacomin and Fernanda Branco divided locations, that include some of Rijeka’s valuable cultural heritage sites, into three sub-categories:
- Natural environment: Mill Žakalj alongside the river Rječina.
- Public spaces: shop window, old shopping mall rooftop, and surrounding streets.
- Historical building: Opera (Teatro Fenice).
On the first day of the Lab, after the Official launching, resident artists were taken on a Walking Tour of the city and its surrounding witnessing for the first time the locations they would be working on in the following days. The tour was led by the art historian Ivana Golob who gave the artists historical, social and architectural inputs with the intention to spark the imagination and inspire the artists in their artistic creations. The information had also the purpose of offering to the artists a grounded knowledge of the sites as a site-specific strategy of work, based on learning about the place one visits and works on. This approach aimed to provide the artists with contextual tools, so they could relate to a place not only from the present but also with historical references, aiming for a wider understanding and respect for the location.
On the second day, as part of the Audience Development element, there was a facilitated talk and sharing: “Levels of Engaging with the Audiences” led by Artistic Director Ivana Peranić. The talk highlighted the numerous creative practices and approaches to audiences among participating artists in terms of (1) number of the audience: from one to hundreds of people, (2) place: using different types of non-conventional theatre spaces, (3) contexts such as: festivals, artistic productions, urban and countryside, political demonstration/protest (4) age and ability (5) social status and level of inclusion/exclusion (6) intention such as: random audiences or people who intentionally come to an event. Some important issues were raised such as artist as a social worker, the necessity of selling tickets, the importance of critics and partnerships, (re)-defining terms of professional and non-professional artists.
Artistic Module was based on co-creation methodology and it was divided into two distinctive parts.
During the first part (11th-14th Sep) resident artists were working in smaller groups interacting with specific sites and creating an artistic responses and expressions from it as: methodology of work and/or different performative works such as performative installation, collage of artistic proposals, roof performance using wireless headphones and binoculars for the audience and shop window performance.
During the second part (15th-17th Sep) resident artists met with the local and regional artists whom they presented their creative processes and artistic proposals, and local and regional artists presented themselves and their artistic approaches and creative works. Each local and regional artist chose a group of resident artists and a location according to their artistic preferences.
On the 16th September 2019, there wes a second facilitated talk “Challenges of managing audiences in non-conventional theatre spaces” where participating artists shared and exchanged their experiences on the topic but also considered the concrete example of the work-in-progress presentation of the following day.
All artistic works were shared with the local audience in the format of work-in-progress presentations on 17th September 2019. Durational performance “I’m Listening” in the shop window created by Nicole Pschetz and Miguel Bonneville with the collaboration of Maja Kalafatic and Miljena Vuckovic was open for the public from 1.00 – 03.00 p.m. Citizens of Rijeka were invited to share their wishes and concerns with St. Vito who is a patron saint of Rijeka Other works were presented in the form of an artistic guided tour, taking audiences from one location to another from 5.30 – 8.30 p.m.: (1) Rijeka’s Roof took audiences on the roof of the shopping mall in the city center telling a story of the superheroes who are out of luck and out of work. Audiences were following them from above as they wandered through the city wondering what to do next and what “saving the planet” even means anymore. The work was created by Rodrigo Pardo and James Riordan in collaboration with Uroš Mladenović and Iva Korbar. Upon getting down from the roof audience was picked up by a character wearing beach accessories and inviting the audience to go for a swim presenting (2) Last Summer, a minimalistic performance in a shop window as a “corporeal reflection about a good time with you”. The work was created by Dmitri Rekatchevski in collaboration with Frane Meden. Another character called Xmas Tree invited the audience to follow her and led the audience through tiny streets of the city center, stopping briefly in front of the Rijeka 2020 installation at the Jadran Square, before heading for the Opera (Teatro Fenice) were many other Rijeka citizens and media were already waiting. One could feel the excitement in the air since this place was opening its door for the general public for the first time after almost three decades! The work presented in the Opera was (3) And Then There Was a Space – fragments of a transformation created and performed by Julianna Bloodgood, Anne Corte, Johannes Schrettle, Sanna Karolina Toivanen, Janaina Tupan, Sendi Bakotić, Andrea Crnković, Nika Korenjak, Maja Kovač, and Kristina Paunovski. The response of the Rijeka citizens and media was very positive. The interest was immense but unfortunately, there was only one performance due to the context of the Lab.
Inside of the Business Module (18th and 19th Sep) participants worked on the process of developing an effective and competitive grant proposal and facing financial and managerial challenges after a successful grant application. The fundraising element was led by Barbara Rovere and the Financial management element was led by Adam Jeanes. Both experts were available for individual consultations throughout the Module.
The Rijeka Art Incubator was programmed and led by Artistic Director Ivana Peranić. The Art Incubator was documented and assessed by three researchers: Lia Contiu (UAT), Anda Cadariu (UAT) and Alessandra Troncone (IAB), and it was evaluated as part of wider project evaluation by the project external evaluators Darko Lukic and Cristina Da Milano.