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Livestreamed on this page on Saturday 30 March 2019 at 12:00 p.m. CST (CDMX, UTC -6) / 11:00 a.m. PDT (Tijuana, UTC -7) / 2:00 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 19:00 CET (Barcelona, UTC +1).

Saturday 30 March 2019

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Conversation on the Network of Independent Theatre Venues in Mexico

Red de salas de teatro independientes en México

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Saturday 30 March 2019

In Spanish. For English, click on the closed captions on the video, or read the transcript below.

Mariela López moderated a discussion called The Independent Theatres in Mexico livestreaming on the global, commons-based peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Saturday 30 March at 12:00 p.m. CST (CDMX, UTC-6)/ 11:00 a.m. PDT (Tijuana, UTC-7) / 2:00 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / 7:00 p.m. CET (Barcelona, UTC+1).

This was a dialogue between coordinators of independent theatres from each state in Mexico reflecting on the administrative work required to run an independent theatre, and the differences and similarities that each one encounters between their geographic contexts.

  • Is it an act of resistance to operate an independent theatre in Mexico?
  • Do we manage an independent theatre for the love of art, or for profitability?
  • What advantages do states that already have their own network have or states that don't have a network?


Mariela López moderara la discusión llamada Red de salas de teatro independientes en México transmitida en vivo en el canal global basado en los bienes comunes y producido entre la comunidad de HowlRound.tv, el sábado 30 de Marzo a las 12:00 p.m. CST (CDMX, UTC -6)/ 11:00 a.m. PDT (Tijuana, UTC -7) / 2:00 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 19:00 CET (Barcelona, UTC +1).

Dialogo entre coordinadores de salas de teatro independientes de cada uno de los estados en México donde se reflexionara sobre el trabajo que significa administrar una sala de teatro independiente en el país y las diferencias y semejanzas que permite el contexto geográfico en el que cada una se encuentra.

  • ¿Es un acto de resistencia manejar una sala de teatro independiente en el país?
  • ¿Amor al arte o rentabilidad al administrar una sala de teatro independiente en el país?
  • ¿Qué ventajas han tenido los estados que cuentan con su propia red de salas de teatro independientes.

Mariela Lopéz: Well, good afternoon. We'll start the meeting. It's an honor to speak with you. I want to thank you for joining me here in the livestreaming called The Independent Theatres in Mexico. I also want to thank HowlRound for making this possible. Any person in the world can watch us since we will have English subtitles. For those of you watching us live, this meeting is supported by the Independent theatres in Mexico. I'm Mariela López, and I will be the moderator. I've had the pleasure to speak with each of you, but I'm explaining this to provide a context for all the people watching us. This project is a collaboration with HowlRound with the aim of opening a dialogue among the theatres' coordinators and introducing the possibility of creating a network of independent theatres throughout the country. We invited two forum theatres per state to incorporate them to the World Theatre Map. There was a dialogue among all coordinators prompted by a series of questions. Today we will discuss the answers they gave us.

Hilda Valencia: Sorry, Mariela. I see that many of the microphones are turned off. 

Mariela: Yes, they are all turned off so you can only listen to the person speaking. 

Hilda: Okay. 

Mariela: There was a dialogue among the coordinators regarding a series of questions and we will discuss the answers. This dialog has the purpose of supporting and enriching ourselves with our colleagues' experiences. In a moment, each of you will introduce yourselves. I will explain the dynamics of the dialogue. Each of you will say your name, the state you are from, the place you coordinate, how long has it been functioning. We will then go on with a series of questions. The first ones will be asked to specific people since what they have to say will enrich us all. Then, there will be questions for the North, the Centre, and the South of the country. Any coordinator from the corresponding region can answer. Also, there will be questions for anyone who may want to answer them. By the end, there will be some time to discuss or add anything to any comments colleagues have made. If you all agree, we will start introducing ourselves, whoever may wish to start... The rest of us will turn off our microphones so that our colleague can introduce themselves. We will start with Tapanco, Yucatán.

Bryan Caballero: Good afternoon, I'm Bryan Caballero, from Tapanco Cultural Centre, in Mérida, Yucatán, a forum that is seven years old. 

Mariela: Central Southeast, if you'd like to continue.

Luis Carlos Hurtado: Hi, good afternoon. I'm Luis Carlos Hurtado. Greetings from Central Sureste, Campeche. 

Mariela: La Columna Forum?

Lorena Illodi: It's on. I'm Lorena Illoldi, from Tamaulipas. I'm representing La Columna Forum Theatre. This is our fifth year working. 

Mariela: Let's continue with AndamioSteatro.

Hilda Valencia: I'm Hilda Valencia. Casa Andamios Theatre is the headquarters of the AndamioSteatro group in Hermosillo, Sonora. We're open since 2011. We've been working for eight years. I can't hear you. 

Mariela: We mute our microphones when we're not speaking and someone else is speaking. Now, Las Tablas Theatre. 

Jesús Quintero: Sorry. Good day. I'm Jesús Quintero. I'm the director of Las Tablas Theatre. We've been open for fifteen years and we're in Baja California, in Tijuana. 

Mariela: Pedro, from Clandestino Theatre.

Pedro González: Hi, how are you? I'm Pedro González, from Querétaro. I am the director of the Clandestino Theatre, Forum G. 

Mariela: Cedrus Theatre?

Fernanda Schroeder: Hi, how are you? I'm Fernanda Schroeder, I'm the coordinator of Cedrus Theatre in Pachuca, Hidalgo. 

Mariela: How long have you been open? 

Fernanda: Sure, sorry. Cedrus Theatre turned five years in February. 

Mariela: And now, Zenyazen. Tells us where you're from and which theatre you coordinate. While we wait, we will present Forum La Ceiba, in Morelia.

Elphis Corrales: Hi, I'm Elphis Corrales. I'm representing Forum La Ceiba, which is under the charge of the group Catexia Theatre. Actually, it's Catexia Art and Culture for the Community. It's been open for seven years. It will be its eighth year this year. 

Mariela: Zenyazen, are you ready? Your microphone is off.

Mónica Zenyazen: Ready? Excellent. We're from Aguascalientes. We're El Ombligo, Performing Arts Coffee Theatre. I'm Mónica Zenyazen, and she is...

Marcela Morán: I'm Marcela Morán, director of El Ombligo Performing Arts. 

Mónica: Producer and operating manager. We are only one year, four months old. 

Mariela: Jesús Alejandro Rosas? What theatre do you represent and from what state? Your microphone is on mute. It's still on mute. 

Jesús: Do you hear me now? Okay. We're here in Torreón, Coahuila. Our space is called Plan B. We will have four years in May. We're located in a centric area. 

Mariela: Now, La Casota de Zapata. Your mic is on mute, La Casota de Zapata. Could you introduce yourselves

Manuel: Okay? We're La Casota de Zapata, we are in the city of Zacatecas, and it's been four years and two months since we opened this performing space. 

Mariela: Finally, David Gómez? Could you introduce yourself? Your mic is on mute.

David Gómez: Okay. Do you hear me? Yes? I'm David Gómez, director of El Círculo de Tiza, in Monterrey, Nuevo León. This space has five years and it's an independent space. Good day. 

Mariela: Good day. Anyone else joining in can participate in the discussion. Now, we'll get started. The first question... All in all, forty-three spaces answered my questions in all the Republic, and most of you talked a great deal about how hard it is to work with the current cultural public policies and also about the responsibility for creating audiences. So, those will be the two most important topics today. All of you talked about that already. The first question is for Bryan Caballero. To put you in context, Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Yucatán are the only three states in Mexico with a network of independent theatres. So, Bryan Caballero, what has the Alternative Network for the Performing Arts achieved in the community in Yucatán State? 

Bryan: Thank you. The Alternative Network was created six years ago after an adverse situation in the political field. That caused us to unite and start working together. The group became smaller but stronger. We're now fourteen groups and we've had a series of achievements that allowed us to improve our working conditions and our artistic relations, and also from the cooperative viewpoint, which is one of the paths we've taken. We formed a cooperative and we have developed an interest in the solidarity-based economy and the mechanisms for artistic production through just economy and cooperation. To mention a specific achievement, they've put signs to mark every independent space in the city, which will allow them to be easily visualized, just as other places signaled by the city council. 

Mariela: Thank you. When did the Alternative Network begin? 

Bryan: 2013. 

Mariela: Thanks. David, when other people are speaking, we put the mic on mute to avoid interference. 

David: Okay. I'm finding it a little bit difficult. 

Mariela: No problem. The next question is for... 

[Speaker] There? 

Mariela: No, not yet. The next question is for AndamioSteatro. You talked extensively about cultural policies. What barriers have you encountered regarding public policies and how did you overcome them in Sonora? You are on mute. 

Hilda: Here we are. The problem with public policies is there are no public policies. There is no legislation, so it's hard to think of legislation for independent groups like ours. However, we've never depended on any public policies or grants by the government because we believe that creating an alternative, independent space means having freedom. So you need to think of different ways to support the space. That is with reference to public policies. Yet, we see a phenomenon here, which happens all around the world, all the independent places are located in the same place, in the same street. This created a cultural, artistic corridor with three theatres, all of them are alternative. Also galleries, book stores... All of them are independent. That doesn't mean that independent public policies don't exist and that we don't insist on them. Particularly now, all of us who believe in a fourth transformation, are pursuing that aim. We are working to create a public policy that benefits cultural spaces which cannot be treated in the same way as commercial spaces. The state has its theatres, but it doesn't have a cultural policy, so those cultural spaces replicate the spaces that have always been in existence but don't function anymore. That's all. 

Mariela: Thanks, AndamioSteatro. Now, I will start with the questions depending on the geographical areas. The following question is for the North and can be answered by Sonora, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas: the question is if it has been profitable coordinating an independent theatre, and how did you achieve that? Whoever wishes to answer. 

David: Me. It hasn't been profitable from an economic perspective, but it has become profitable in the sense of joining the theatre workers. At least in Nuevo León, as in many other parts of Mexico, we've started playing the game of professionalizing the theatre. That means studying a lot, having commercial relations and turning the theatre, the plays into a consumer product. In Monterrey, there is a vast workforce, there are various schools, a Performing Arts University, there is a school, CEDART, which depends on Fine Arts, the School of Philosophy and Literature. They require students to study a lot. In the end, they undermine their profession. We've started to believe this is the kind of theatre we need to do, but people have realized there are no spaces. In Monterrey, there's a lot of labor offer, many groups, many people doing theatre, but there are no places to perform. It's terrible because there are cultural policies but their aim is to justify the culture of Nuevo León in numbers. It's only for some people. And the people who are really doing theatre don't have spaces. We started El Círculo de Tiza with my wife, who is a great actress, she's well-known here in Monterrey, Tere Medellín. We've been working in theatre for forty years, with our resources, without any aid, we didn't need it. But there are fewer and fewer places. Only certain groups perform in theatres with the help of grants, they are always the same people. Nowadays, theatres are also used for political events and other purposes to make money. There are fewer places where you can work and prepare your play. We worked to have a place of our own, a place where we could work and present our plays without people telling us, "You can't do this.You can't say this because according to the cultural policies, children can't hear this." We struggled to keep our space open and now it's profitable because we are organized. Young people come. We not only present our plays, but young people also come and do their rehearsals. In other places, their work is undermined, they are not allowed to perform. Only commercial or professional plays are allowed. So these people don't have a place, they don't know where to go. They are graduates. So, it's profitable in the sense of democratizing the theatre, we are working hard to achieve that. We have mistakenly thought that in order to do theatre and be recognized we needed to perform in official places. But there are no more official places. So from an economic perspective, we're having difficulties. But it's profitable in the sense that young people come and do their presentations. In five years, we have presented seventy groups approximately. We've presented many plays, we've organized two festivals, and the aim is always to decentralize the theatre because we all suffer from...we suffer from the national illness of centralizing everything in Mexico, in D.F. In Monterrey, it's the same. Everybody performs and studies here. Monterrey is Nuevo León, and Nuevo León is big. So we're offering theatre and workshops in the faraway towns where there are a lot of people devoted not only to acting but also to music. In Nuevo León, people have outstanding aesthetic integrity. So now... 

Mariela: We're deviating from the question. 

David: Okay. So, it's not financially profitable but there is a lot of union and cohesion among the actors. 

Mariela: Thanks, David. The next question... Welcome, Lotería Theatre, who have just joined. We are making questions for each geographical region. The second question is for the Central region, where most of the theatrical activity takes place. Whoever would like to answer, what strategies have created audiences successfully in your place? The central region is where most of the theatrical activity takes place and so there's more labor offer. What strategies have created audiences successfully? Who would like to answer? Pedro, from Clandestino Theatre, we can't hear you. 

Pedro: Hi, I'm Pedro González, from Clandestino Theatre, my mic is on now. In Querétaro, we have a theatre advisory council, and we realized it was essential for all the independent troupes to write a common code, to join and think of strategies. There are now several work meetings and one of the main concerns is how to create new audiences. One of the many strategies being used in Querétaro state is sharing audiences. In the case of Clandestino Theatre, Forum G, I also have the idea of decentralizing. I'm not in Querétaro but in a small adjacent town with the idea of taking the theatre to all communities and towns. So we've been visiting other theatres, theatres presenting comedies, for instance, and presenting plays with a similar style as their own to invite them to come to our theatres. Likewise, in our theatres, we put the posters of their plays. I think that's the only strategy that is working, that I trust. It's about joining hands, joining efforts and not diving audiences but sharing them. 

Mariela: Thanks, Pedro, from Clandestino Theatre. Anyone else in the central region would like to share what you've done for the creation of audiences? 

Fernanda: Hi, I'm with Cedrus Theatre. We are in Pachuca. This is the second year we're issuing a call to join efforts with local and national troupes. We invite them to be part of our program for the current year 2019, and join efforts in production and staging to achieve greater publicity and communication. The goal is to have a wider audience and make people get used to attending cultural events. This year in Pachucha most of the independent forums have closed, we're sort of survivors. The other theatres in Pachuca receive grants from the government. That's why most cultural events here are free of charge and it's very difficult to develop audiences willing to pay a ticket to a cultural event. So, creating synergy with other productions and groups has been helpful in creating audiences. That's what I can share. 

Mariela: Thanks, Cedrus Theatre. 

Manuel: Here, Casota de Zapata. To answer your question, I think developing audiences is a complex task throughout the country. Here, what has worked for us is perseverance. We try to present plays for no less than a month and people are getting used to the fact that every Friday at 08:00 p.m. there's theatre. But the situation is complex. I don't know the other colleagues, but in our case, we own our place, so we don't have to pay rent and that's a benefit. Otherwise, it would be impossible. So, we have been perseverant making people get used to the fact that every Friday we are open. That's been helpful. That's all. 

Mariela: Thanks, Casota de Zapata. So, the next question is... Sorry, Zenyazem. 

Mónica: Yes. Well, we've thought of several strategies for developing audiences, and although we don't have the support of cultural policies, we've created various spaces. In many aspects, we're just beginning. In our coffee theatre, we don't just sell coffee, we sell the concept of the theatre. From the menu to the place, which is a theme place... So, even if people is getting bored, we serve them a drink and we show them the theatre whether they like it or not. Another strategy has been convincing our colleagues to use this space. 

Marcela: We are open on Mondays through Sundays. So we've arranged a program with different drama styles for each day to introduce audiences to different ways of doing theatre and allow them to compare the different genres and styles. We also have two days in which we offer tutoring. Any kid in primary school, secondary school or university who needs to make a project on performing arts can come and receive tutorship free of charge. Sometimes, they become interested and come see the plays too. 

Mónica: It sounds easy, but it's a painstaking job. One person at a time. 

Marcela: Thanks to that, groups of students have come. Maybe their project is related to Formula One but their presentation is oral. So we help them with techniques, theatrical techniques, and that creates a synergy between us. In exchange, they give us spaces at universities from a communicative, marketing perspective. Our brand is showcased at universities and high schools by means of displays on their stands. So although we work with engineers, that allows us to be in contact with other groups. You may think we have nothing in common, but we have because we're human beings and we do theatre. Basically, those have been our strategies. We also have a mentions system. Performers working in other places are free to advertise them. Here, we support them allowing them to show their posters, distribute flyers and so on. We are also a point of sale for plays presented in other theatres. Some people get to know the place because they come to buy a ticket for another theatre. Basically, that would be all, right? 

Mónica: Yes, we have other projects in mind. I see Lotería Theatre has joined the livestreaming. We are planning to meet other forums and troupes and see what we can do together. Everything is slow in Aguascalientes, but we're breaking stones where institutional presence is lacking. 

Marcela: I forgot to mention that people working at the coffee shop are troupers. So if anyone has any doubts while ordering their coffee or tea or whatever, they can dialog with the trouper which results in very nice feedback. Moreover, since it's a very small place, after the play finishes, people can ask questions to the actors and actresses. That gives rise to dialogue. People feel comfortable, they learn and feel like coming back. 

Mónica: Let's say all the space is used to develop audiences. 

Mariela: Thank you, Aguascalientes. I can't hear you. 

Lorena: Here, in Tamaulipas, I'd like to make a comment. 

Mariela: Sure. 

Lorena: As regards developing audiences, I want to share something that worked for us in the sense that the forum... 

Mariela: The volume is very low. Can you speak up? 

Lorena: The forum has tried to work not only with plays. We also present singers and musicians. We have a "Musical Thursday." That was the first non-theatrical performance we've included in the forum's program. As a result, people who were not used to attend cultural events started coming. Now we're sharing the space with groups that participate in roleplay. I don't know if you know about them, they are cultural movements. Some people like roleplay, and activity that takes place all over the world, and they don't have any place for their gatherings. So, we've accepted social groups who join together for other interests than the theatre. We tell them they can come for their monthly meetings and their events. That's how they get to know our space, people who consume other cultural products come and see the theatre, our program, and we make an exchange and reach audiences that wouldn't otherwise get to know us. That strategy has worked for us, offering our space as a meeting point for people who don't have a place to gather. We know that the official cultural places available are huge, for 900 to 1000 people, they are too expensive, and sometimes governments only use them for the entertainment. Some people want to rehearse or work or simply meet with other aims that differ from the entertainment. That has been useful in reaching other people. I tell you this because it's nice having an exchange with people from other walks of life. 

Mariela: Thank you, Forum La Columna. 

Elphis: May I say something about this topic?

Mariela: Hi, there. Yes. 

Elphis: Here in Forum La Ceiba we have come up with several strategies to develop audiences. We specifically work to integrate the community. Our community is not in the center of Morelia, it's near, and it has been stigmatized as a violent community. We are in Vasco de Quiroga. People in this community have been reluctant to come, mainly, due to the Catholic religion. What we're doing now is taking the theatre to the streets. We still present plays inside the forum, but we also go out on the streets with musical shows, we present the music of Cri cri or other artists with whom they identify. In this way, we don't interrupt their Catholic thinking and come closer to them. They start to know us, they discover this is a meeting point too, somewhere they can come. We've also carried out workshops for the women of the colony, and they saw this place as their home, as a place where they could express their feelings, they could tell how their husbands mistreated them and other male chauvinism issues. They feel free here. Now we have the project of visiting their homes and do oral narrations around the colony and invite them to come to the theatre and participate. And we also listen to them, it's not only one-way communication, but we can also learn a great deal from the people around us. So we're making efforts to come closer to people. Troupers know each other, they know where we are, they know we are open and they can come. We also support ourselves with certain rates. And if there are any groups, as our colleague said earlier, anyone needing a place to meet who don't have money, we make an exchange. We give them the physical space and they give us toilet paper, for instance, basic things, cleaning products. They have also shot some short films here and they have taken our picture in return. We not necessarily use money, sometimes we just exchange things. That's what we're doing so that both parts find it easier. That's all I wanted to say. 

Mariela: Thanks, Forum La Ceiba. Marco Antonio Vasconcelos has just joined us. Please, tell us where you're from, how long have you been working and then we will listen to AndamioSteatro. The mic is on mute, Marco Antonio. - 

Marco Antonio Vasconcelos: Okay. Good day everybody. It's still daytime here. We are in the Pacific area, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Cabo San Lucas. Forum Vasconcelos started on March 27, 2010. I was the first and only independent forum in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur. There are no independent forums similar to ours in this state. We have nine years offering dance, theatre, music, mainly contemporary dance. 

Mariela: Thanks, Marco Antonio. Lotería Theatre, please, say your name, your state and how long have you been open. 

Hilda: Sorry, are you asking me or someone else? 

Mariela: Lotería Theatre. 

Hilda: Okay. 

Mariela: Lotería Theatre, your mic is on mute. Or we can continue with AndamioSteatro and their comments on developing audiences. 

Hilda: We use many of the strategies mentioned by Tamaulipas and Morelia, and I think they're important. Our program is interdisciplinary, we invite everybody, not only to do theatre, mainly young people, anyone who comes to AndamioSteatro. Our place is available. This has helped develop new audiences, since each group, each presentation, each concert, dancing activities, collective activities, they bring their own audience. Another useful strategy has been working with the community, as our colleague from Morelia was telling. We're inventing things all the time. Our last project was called "Urban Art." It was about recovering public spaces through the theatre, ecology, sports, and painting. We scheduled a two-month program in a public space located in a vulnerable community near our theatre. It's been very important. Working with children helped us come closer to the families because we have planned activities for women, but they didn't come. We did activities for the young, but they didn't come. However, through children, we've worked in the colony, with the families and we've been able to develop audiences. We've been able to work on topics such as the mistreatment of women, in child abuse prevention. Because we believe that the theatre... I mean, we do theatre, but the theatre must have a social function. From that on, we organized a festival called "The moons of Urano, Shakespeare in the desert." As our colleague from Morelia said, we learn a lot and showcase what we do at the same time. That's been helpful. Also, universities are a hotbed of audiences we should always consider. That's all, thank you. 

Mariela: Thanks, AndamioSteatro. Please, when we're not speaking, we put our mic on mute. Lotería Theatre, are you ready to introduce yourselves? 

[Speaker from Lotería Theatre]: Do you hear me? Yes? I'm having trouble with the microphone. Can you hear me okay? 

Mariela: Yes, we can hear you okay. 

[Speaker from Lotería Theater]: Great. Lotería Theatre, in Aguascalientes, has been working since August 2014. We rent a studio for production, rehearsal, storage. People have slowly accepted our space to make their presentations, we have a fairly wide audience, and although the forum is small, with a full capacity of 45 people, our presentations are well received. We try to attract our audience while we are promoting our plays, both inside and outside the forum, when we have presentations in other public places, schools, companies. We have a client base and we invite them to all the plays we present. We also have the support of the theatrical community to inform about our plays. I think something important our colleagues have mentioned is the need to form a community among troupers. They can also use this space, we open our doors so that they can present their plays, rehearse, do screen tests, shootings. All this allowed us to keep the place active without having to worry about the rent. We not only keep the place as somewhere to present a play but also somewhere to work and rehearse without demanding a fee. As our colleague from Morelia was saying, we are open to making an exchange, to receive something meaningful and simple, like supplies for the forum, or water, or collaboration to pay the electricity. That's been helpful. We are growing and I think we can become stronger, especially to reinforce the meaning of an independent space, self-managed and self-sustainable, given the fact that government policies doesn't have the intention of opening places like this but they would rather close them. In Aguascalientes, in the last twenty or thirty years, we've lost some public places administered by the official sector. Those institutions rest in the knowledge that independent spaces are appearing. We think these spaces are necessary too, but they should have financial support. We keep on working hard and covering the need of audiences for going to the theatres. 

Mariela: Thanks, Lotería Theatre. The last question is for the South. Only one person will answer. People from the South region, do you think that managing an independent theatre is an act of resistance? Yes, no, why? Anyone from the South... 

Pedro: Hi. Pedro González, from Clandestino Theatre. Sure, doing independent theatre is an act of resistance, it's an act of perseverance, it's about finding the right people to help us grow as a theatrical collective, but also through state strategies that are being implemented, as the International Day of the Theatre, where there were twenty-one performances. It was interesting to see that the public was asked to collaborate with MXN$20. It was voluntary but not so cheap. We cannot keep on offering cultural events for free, shows for free. The theatre is valuable, it's capable of redeeming souls, but it has a cost too. So, while developing audiences and in order to survive, we have to teach people that the theatre has a price. 

Mariela: Thank you, Pedro, from Clandestino Theatre. We will continue with a series of questions. Anyone can answer this time. What could we do as a community so that cultural public policies recognize and support the independent theatres? What can we do as a community so that public policies recognize the independent theatres? Anyone can answer. Go ahead, Forum La Columna. 

Lorena: One of the things is what we're doing right now, join together. What happened? 

Mariela: AndamioSteatro, and then Forum La Columna. 

Hilda: One of the things is what we're doing right now, joining together, get to know each other, what we're doing. We share a lot of similarities and I'm sure we can work from them. I think we must tackle the issue of legislation. It's our duty, and as creators, we have set that aside. It's a tedious, boring task for us, but I think we should deal with it, work for our rights as writers, to access health, be treated as professionals... 

We're professionals but we don't live as such. We should all undertake the task of investigating the public policies of our country, of our States and form a community to achieve the laws we need. I think all of us, as independent theatres, when we want to present a play, we have to ask the city council for permission, civil protection comes in, and it's not wrong for them to come, but we cannot be treated in the same way as other institutions. We are serving the community, we generate cultural policies the State has not been able to generate. So, on the one hand, what we're doing now. On the other hand, dealing with this tedious task of finding out what's available for us artists and creators, and to bet that...not bet, demand our rights. 

Mariela: Thank you, AndamioSteatro. Now, La Columna. 

Lorena: Following what our colleage was just saying... 

Mariela: I hear you very low. Can you speak up but without the microphone? Because it collects the ambient noises too. 

Lorena: Can you hear me? 

Mariela: Yes, a little bit louder. 

Lorena: I think the most important thing as a group right now is to acquire legal personality and become spokespeople before the State. This attempt to form a network will have to be officialized through legal means, through an association, like our colleagues from the southeast region and their network, and be able to speak before the State. The State is an entity without a face. Even though we speak with officials, we are dealing with an entity. It doesn't have a face but many faces. Just as each of us is the face of a forum with a certain reality. This gathering must lead us to organize legally and become spokespeople so that our voices are acknowledged beyond any specific demands. As artists, we need to start a dialogue with the authorities and engage the community because we're on the right path. 

Mariela: Thank you, Forum La Columna. The next question is, What do we need or what are we missing to create a national network of independent theatres? To give you some context, Guadalajara, Yucatán and Mexico City are the only three places with a local network of independent theatres. So, what do we need to create a national network of independent theatres? 

Marco: I think the first step would be to identify those independent places, recognize each other as such and device a directory for the directors of each theatre to start exchanging artistic products. I think we should devise a directory with all the necessary curricula as regards the forums and the directors so that each director can have the information of all independent theatres, like a map with the geographical location of each theatre, and what means of transport are available. One of our main difficulties is the lack of transportation. You can arrive by plane and by ship, but you can't arrive by bus unless you want to go to Tijuana, and from there it's twenty-eight hours to Cabo San Lucas. So, I think we need a directory with a map to identify ourselves, recognize ourselves and from there start working in collaboration. 

Mariela: Thanks, Marco Antonio Vasconcelos. From the forty-three people I spoke with from all around Mexico, those forty-three theatres are in the World Theatre Map. You can check them up. I showed you your theatres profiles. There are forty-three places, representing all the States in Mexico, except the states of Tlaxcala, Guanajuato, and Tabasco. It was impossible to find representatives in those places. The rest of the Mexican States are included in the World Theatre Map. Anyone else would like to say what we need to form a national network of independent theatres? Tapanco, Yucatán? 

Bryan: Yes, I think that... 

Mariela: Tapanco Yucatán wanted to say something first. Then we will listen to AndamioSteatro. 

Bryan: Thanks, Mariela. I agree with everything that has been said. I think it's exciting to see so many places with common interests. If we want to create a national network I think that although we need to institutionalize it and figure out our relationship with the State, we need to see the internal relationships we can develop and create specific projects so as not to ideologize the working logic and avoid any institutional or public battles that exceed us. We should look at it from a social, public perspective...sorry, private perspective and from there generate specific strategies. If we start with concrete strategies and actions, the network will follow as a consequence. If we push the creation of a network a priori, we may force things. This gathering of theatres' representatives makes me part of a network, and we can start planning an infinite number of projects. Finally, the National Theatre Congress led to an initiative, which is the creation of the national directory of the theatrical community. The initiative is in progress and soon we will see the results. So I invite you and all the representatives here to participate and access this information. This directory will show a map of people and places. I invite anyone who didn't know about it to join. I will include the link on the chat. Thanks, that's all. 

Mariela: Thank you, Bryan Caballero. AndamioSteatro wanted to make a comment? 

Hilda Yes. I agree with all the ideas shared. I think it's one step at a time. We cannot expect to do everything at once. It's useful to know about the World Theatre Map, about the directory of the National Theatre Congress. We don't usually have access to those things. I think it's important that each of us commits to the network in our own States, that would be the first step. Maybe some of us already have contacts, we are already working on it. Then we should continue at a regional level, in Baja California and the countries of the north. That would make things easier. Another important aspect is how we can use the institutions. In what sense? Sometimes, we have performances in other States, and I feel with what we're doing today, we will be able to embrace those performances, those dance shows and so on. I'm always amazed at what circuses do, or people doing clown. They say, "I will go to China," or "I will go to Yucatán. Who is working in a circus there?" And they are strong in solidarity. That's what we should learn from other disciplines, to be more generous with our places. No matter the quality. Quality is important, but I mean, in the end, the public decides if the show is interesting or not. To sum up, I would start with the States, then the regions, the way in which we use the sets and the other aspects that have been mentioned. 

Mariela: Thank you, AndamioSteatro. Finally... Oh, okay. 

Elphis: I want to speak about a different subject. Actually, I want to speak about public policies, especially, here in Michoacán, in Morelia. More or less one month, one month and a half ago...since the cultural places are not included in the city council catalog because it's very expensive to pay the licenses and it's hard to pay the same as the big institutions, our theatres are reduced, for forty, fifty audience members, sometimes less, so together with the local Secretariat for Culture, which is under the charge of Dr. Cardiela Amezcua, maybe you want to take note and learn about this process we're undergoing, she met the city council, she's also working with the other secretariats, I'm not acquainted with those topics, but we're working to be included in a local catalog. Various cultural places have been registered, places dedicated to theatre, to dance, bars or coffee shops that present play, different cultural places under the institutions with the purpose of being acknowledged as cultural places. That will allow us to receive federal support, private support, and so on. It's down to each place to decide whether it will receive certain support or not. It's a slow process, but it's underway. So, if you can start working in the same way in your States and go to your secretariats of culture saying, "We're not included in any institutional catalog but we'd like to be included," you can approach them just as we're doing it here in Morelia. I just wanted to mention that possibility. 

Mariela: Thank you, Forum La Ceiba for your comment. To sum up, does anyone want to ask anything to anybody else now that we're all here? That was the last point on our list. Does anyone want to ask about what's been mentioned? If not, we'll finish here. Does anybody have any questions? 

[Speaker]: We, Aguascalientes. 

Mariela: Sure, go ahead. 

[Speaker]: I would like to know if you would be willing to organize a festival in our theatres, at a national level. We would somehow provide accommodation for our colleagues. In this way, we could organize a national festival. 

Mariela I think it's not very clear. Organizing a festival in our theatres? 

[Speaker]: That's right. 

Mariela: Well, if the other coordinators are interested, the forty-three theatres appear in the World Theatre Map. There are links to their Facebook pages, their phone numbers. We could make a proposal. Being forty-three independent theatres, we could do something interesting. Yes, David Gómez, and we will finish the session. 

David: I would like to ask. I think it would be interesting to organize a national festival, but now that we've identified each other, at least within the same region, we could form a corridor among Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, I don't know if Coahuila is present... We could start creating a network to get to know each other better and then start thinking on larger cultural policies. I'm talking to the coordinators of Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Nuevo León. 

[Speaker]: Chihuahua is also part of the North. 

David: Sure, yes. Chihuahua. 

Mariela: Chihuahua. It's been a pleasure. We've come to the end of this session. Anybody has something very important to say before finishing? If not... Anyone? No? 

Mónica: Me. 

Mariela: Sure, sorry. 

Mónica: I think we shouldn't forget the fact that we're private enterprises, and together we could demand the legislative power not to subsidize us but to support us and give us a special qualification. I don't think we need to be a civil association, but we need to join like we're joined now. We need to study at a local and a national level because I don't find it so complex. Ten years ago, you needed to be a civil association, A, B, C, D, etc., X, Y, and now there are other pressures. I think if we are on the same page, we can achieve some changes. We can start getting support locally and then at a national level. In my experience, in other countries, independent theatres are supported by public institutions. They don't make any difference, and the more theatres, the better. 

Mariela: Thank you, Zenyazen. 

Marco: I would like to say something, I don't know if that's possible. Do we have time? 

Mariela: Sure, one last comment. 

Marco: Well, we already identified the North, the Centre, and the South. For us, it's important to be identified as the Pacific. People seem to forget the Pacific exists. This is an important region, everything enters the country through here. The Asian market arrives in the Pacific. So, we need to be recognized as the Pacific area. We're in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur. People consider only the North, the Centre, and the South as part of the country, and they forget about this region. I also think we should plan another session to discuss the active economies within the independent theatres. We should also analyze the term "independent." I've heard many places have governmental support as well as federal, state and local subsidies, so how independent are we? Are we going from being independent to being subsidized by the government? We need to analyze those terms. Personally, in the next session, I'd like to tackle the issue of economies. Here, we have a trickle-down economy that allows us to maintain the project. We are Forum Vasconcelos, Casa de la Danza. I would like to know how do the other theatres manage their economies. How do they manage to pay their water, electricity, telephone, and infrastructure? Not necessarily thinking of programs. Programs involve other aspects. Thank you. 

Mariela: Thanks, Marco Antonio. I've just written down that I will look for the forty-three theatres I incorporated to the World Theatre Map to support the project on the theatre directory. Bryan Caballero included the link to that project. This could lead to the creation of a network, step by step. This dialogue has been recorded for other colleagues who couldn't join us. You can also watch it again. It will be uploaded in HowlRound so that you can keep in contact. We will also write down a research paper with all the answers I've received from all the colleagues. The essay will be posted at HowlRound. It's been a pleasure for me speaking with each of you and joining this community which will hopefully persevere and will create synergy. This session has come to an end. Thank you, that would be all. Thank you very much for joining today. See you!

About HowlRound TV

HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based peer produced, open access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by the nonprofit HowlRound. HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world's performing arts and cultural fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and to develop our knowledge commons collectively. Participate in a community of peer organizations revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field by becoming a producer and co-producing with us. Learn more by going to our participate page. For any other queries, email [email protected], or call Vijay Mathew at +1 917.686.3185 Signal/WhatsApp. View the video archive of past events.

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