IETM—international network for contemporary performing arts—presented a series of conversations from their Satellite Beirut 2016 convening from Beirut, Lebanon livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv Thursday 6 October through Sunday 9 October.
IETM Satellite Beirut 2016
IETM revisits Beirut, between 6-9 October 2016, to rediscover this ever-changing, contradictory capital and reconnect with its thriving cultural scene. With the main focus on Freedom of Expression, the Satellite’s program will thrash out such crucial topics as mobility, cultural policies, funding, gender equality in the cultural sector, decentralization of culture, and more.
Reclaiming the Public Space
Arab theatre has a long tradition of performing in public spaces, creating cohesion, and raising the idea of citizenship. As a consequence, the South-Med public spaces have often been over taken by the official power. The recent socio-political transformations have shown, on one hand, that it's possible to reclaim the citizen's public space, and revealed on the other, emerging challenges.
Perspectives on freedom of expression in the Euro-Med today
Freedom of expression in the arts is only possible if the sector is wiling and able to take risks, experiment, trigger controversial reactions and be open to different opinions. The changing social and political situation hardly provides these conditions and most of us have come across, at least once, a real difficulty relating to artistic freedom within our communities. Speakers from different backgrounds will each share their own experience with freedom of expression and attempt to answer some of these questions: How do we articulate freedom of expression without self-censoring? How do we promote the artist’s liberty without manipulating the public? How do we defend without inciting hate and discrimination?
Building alliances through the arts
Arab independent artists have often felt unrecognised—if not isolated—in their own societies, isolation caused by a rather hostile economic and socio-political environment. But with the recent transformations in the Arab region, things started to change: artists became major players in creating new discourses to empower their creative communities. A new awareness has emerged leading to a better dialogue with the societies they come from. What are the tools we dispose of as artists to sustain this civic dialogue? How can we create stronger alliances with other sectors while preserving our independence and the freedom of our imaginaries?
It is no surprise that the discussion about the colonialism of yesterday and the neo-colonialism of today strongly comes to surface when discussing the arts in the Arab region. Whether artists and professionals struggle against or play along, colonialism and post-colonialism are undoubtedly influencing artistic production and dissemination. The imported or the indigenous? The foreign or the local language? The exotic or the authentic? Which imbalances of power are not to be disregarded when collaborating? Can differences become meeting grounds instead of barriers and contribute to building a common discourse?
Funding: friend or foe of artistic freedom?
The development of the cultural sector is mainly dependent on funding programs. And while donors and grants makers try their best to respond to the creative demands, many artists struggle to find the balance between their visions and the funders' eligibility criteria. Can we consider funding bodies key players in terms of designing the artistic landscape of our societies? And what happens when the artist chooses not to respond to specific guidelines?
As we put our words into action, this inevitable discussion sheds light on the existing formal and informal networks and the role that they play in the development of artistic practices locally and internationally.
Artistic mobility in the Arab region: can networks break the deadlock?
While everyone is currently focusing on how to enter "Fortress Europe," mobility within the Arab region is silently becoming one of the main challenges for Arab professionals, especially those coming from recent conflict zones. How can we respond to the challenge of artistic mobility in time of displacement? Is this challenge preventing the development of regional networks? Or can networks contribute to overcoming this enforced isolation? What type of alliances are needed to cross these borders? And how are these travel restrictions influencing artistic production for Arab artists?
Conflicts, ethics and aesthetics
Apprehending the ways conflicts are represented in the artistic process and the underlying ethical questions is a complex matter not only for artists and professionals but also for the audience. What sets the line between pure artistic representation on an aesthetic basis and the ethical repercussions and connotations of an artwork in conflict zones? What aspect should prevail? Is art a critical, transformative social practice? Or is it a creative and self-reflective form of expression? What role should cultural professionals play in the course of supporting creativity as a fundament of the arts?
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