Livestreamed on this page Thursday 11 June 2020 at 9:00-11:00 BST (London, UTC +1) / 10:00-12:00 CEST (Berlin, UTC +2) / 11:00-13:00 EEST (Bucharest, UTC +3) / 16:00-18:00 SGT (Singapore, UTC +8) / 18:00-20:00 AEST (Sydney, UTC +10).
Panel Discussion: Reopening European Theatres
hosted by European Theatre Convention's International Theatre Conference
The European Theatre Convention presented the panel discussion Reopening European Theatres livestreaming on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Thursday 11 June 2020 at 9:00-11:00 BST (London, UTC +1) / 10:00-12:00 CEST (Berlin, UTC +2) / 11:00-13:00 EEST (Bucharest, UTC +3) / 16:00-18:00 SGT (Singapore, UTC +8) / 18:00-20:00 AEST (Sydney, UTC +10).
The European Theatre Convention (ETC) hosted its upcoming ETC International Theatre Conference online from 10 to 12 June 2020. What world can we expect after the coronavirus crisis? How can theatres shape the best possible future for their houses? While it is impossible to know exactly how the post-coronavirus world will be for theatres, the upcoming ETC International Theatre Conference will aim at giving European theatres the tools to be able to respond to the situation.
Welcome & Introduction
Artistic Intervention: Nobody is Waiting
in collaboration with Schauspielhaus Graz (Austria) and Cyprus Theatre Organisation (THOC, Cyprus)
Panel Discussion: Reopening European Theatres
with Iris Laufenberg, Schauspielhaus Graz (Austria)
Dubravka Vrgoč, Croatian National Theatre Zagreb (Croatia)
Norbert Rakowski, JK Opole Theatre (Poland)
Moderated by Marko Bratuš, Slovensko Narodno Gledalisce Nova Gorica (Slovenia)
[A pre-recorded video about the European Theatre Convention starts playing.]
Marie Le Sourd: It’s as if you take a map of Europe, and this map is empty, you don't have any contact. So, the European Theatre Network really help you to have your entry door to get to know all the contacts, to get to know other organization, and of course, to get to know other people in the theatre.
Sean Buhagiar: For us, joining ETC was an obvious decision. Why, because Malta is an island, but we don't want to think like an island. We want to be European, and the ETC gives us that opportunity.
Andrii Palatnyi: ETC did a lot for Ukrainian theatre area to receive the fantastic and unique, I think, possibilities to present yourself and your productions, and to open Europe for Ukraine, and Ukraine for Europe.
Iris Laufenberg: Besides the opportunity to see different festivals in different place, or around Europe in the ETC meetings, they're a wonderful possibility to apply it for artists, to go, for example, one week to Avignon to the festival.
Paulien Geerlings: And what I really like about this network is that it is mainly the artistic people that meet twice a year, so you really get to know each other, you build up trust to collaborate, and then you can really start collaboration projects, and that's what I really like about ETC.
Serge Rangoni: We organize each year for the opening of the season a picnic in the street in front of a theatre. It has become an event in the city, and this is after a conference in the ETC about how to create links with the audience and with the city.
Sean: What does it mean to be European today? What does it mean to make theatre in Europe today? Which productions are the relevant ones today? And I think we're stronger together when we discuss these things, so the ETC is our natural home for internationalization.
[The video ends and a Zoom conference appears on the screen.]
Heidi Wiley: Welcome to the first virtual conference of the European Theatre Convention, "Connecting the Separated". Welcome to our panel discussion, reopening European theatres. It's now June 2020. In most European countries, the first wave of COVID-19 has started to slow down, and every week politicians announce which parts of society are to resume next. But finally, theatre has also made it into the news, and I'm very happy that today we'll discuss how to ensure to continuity of our sector's activity, and in particular, the international collaborations. My name is Heidi Wiley, and I'm the executive director of the European Theatre Convention, Europe's network for theatres, and it's my pleasure hosting you this morning. Normally we would be all sitting now in the Schauspielhaus Graz in Austria, and we would probably take our seats, laughing and chatting with each other like you've seen in our video when we met last summer in Dresden. Well, that was before the pandemic. This time is different. Let me welcome you all very warmly here to our Zoom room. It's the first time that we are live streaming our panel discussion with an open access to the entire theatre community around the world, so therefore I very dearly welcome our ETC member colleagues and friends from around Europe, the many guests who have joined us for the first time, and also a warm hello to everyone who's following us on the live stream, and those of you who will watch this program maybe later online in the evening or in the following days and weeks to come. I'm sure most of you know by now very well the tips and tricks to network on Zoom. Well, you can use the chat option below at your screen to talk with each other or with the other participants, and send questions later in the final question and answer session. As a start, you can tell us, for example, from where you're watching. I'm very thankful that we are able to offer this program, and give theatres in Europe the voice to be heard in this time of crisis, to address our challenges, and also to discuss solutions for our sector to survive the pandemic. For the continued support, and also the ongoing dialog to make that happen, I really want to thank our strategic partner, the European Commission, and most particularly, the Directorate General for Education and Culture, and Barbara Gessler, who is the head of the Creative Europe program. Let me now introduce you to Serge Rangoni, president of the ETC, and general and artistic director of Theatre de Liege in Belgium.
Serge Rangoni: Hello, dear colleague and friends. In these exceptional circumstances, we need to find exceptional responses. In the last three months, the landmarks were all vanished, as have all certain. Allow me to introduce myself for those of you who are joining us for the first time. My name is Serge Rangoni, president of the ETC, and director of Theatre of Liege in Belgium. The pandemic has turned all our planet upside down. The complete stopping of our activities overnight, with health as the only watchword, when it was thought that only the economy dominated the world. The total closure of borders, especially in Europe, where we had seen them disappear over the years. The abysmal increase in public deficits, without any further restraint, thanks in particular to low interest rates. The highlighting of categories of workers in the frontline, among the lowest-paid in all societies. And of course, with the cessation of all social activities, the awareness of the importance of the cultural and artistic sector throughout Europe. Here are some of the first observations we can make. However, the list is much longer. Some major speeches in favor of culture have been delivered in every country, and within the European Union. Yet, can we really say what has been done? In Europe, after the Council of Minister of Culture of 25 May last, words of comfort and solidarity with the cultural sector were uttered, but no major progress was made, no additional means were decided upon. It's the same in a great many countries, when the airlines were out to the tune of billions, and flights could resume in full, but with a mask on. In some countries, even the leaders were able to take advantage of the crisis to break up the protest movements then underway, and curb a little more freedom of expression, and thus, artistic freedom. All this in the embarrassed silence of Europe. I would like to thank very much Heidi, Helene, Teresa, Josephine, Alice, for the wonderful work, because it was very difficult in this period. And especially, a special thank to Iris Laufenberg and her team. Really, we hope to visit you next few months. Let's try in these couple of hours to find new way of being together. Let's open European theatres together again. I thank you very much to be here and to participate to this very special session of GA of ETC. Thanks a lot.
Heidi: Thank you very much, Serge. I have now received a letter from Mariya Gabriel, the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth on the European Commission, addressed to the members of the European Theatre Convention, and who asked me to read this out to you. This is what I'm going to do now. Hold on. Dear members of the European Theatre Convention, dear friends, the title you have chosen, "Connecting the Separated: Reopening European Theatres", reflects the reality we have been living in over the past months, physically separated but connected thanks to our shared passions, and one of these is theatre. I will start by saying that I miss the theatres very much. I miss the presence of performers, the live experience. I'm sure that this feeling is shared among all of us. This very peculiar period has made us realize that we need theatre, and culture more broadly, more than ever, because it is an important pillar for our cultural and linguistic diversity, and because it allows an open space for society for discourse and new ideas. Theatre and the performing arts teach society about itself. Yet, this function cannot be fulfilled at this moment. Events that we are witnessing around the world would benefit from the power of live performing arts to amplify messages of hope and solidarity. Many theatres in Europe, like other performing arts, venues and artists, are suffering particularly strongly from the crisis. I want to express my awareness about the challenges you are facing; second, my determination to use our instruments to mitigate the impact on your sector; and third, my vision for the future, so that this sector can strive again and exercise its fundamental role for our society. Culture is not a luxury. It is an important social and economic sector to overcome any crisis. For this reason, if the health and safety measures are in place, theatre should reopen because they contribute to the mental health and wellbeing of our citizens, and ultimately, of our society. Over the past months, I have been working very closely with member states and stakeholders to support the sector in concrete ways. We have done so making sure that the horizontal measures put forward were available to all sectors. We have also applied targeted measures using the main instrument at our disposal, Creative Europe. One of the actions taken, important for the reopening of theatres, is the establishment of two platforms to exchange information with member states and the sector itself. This is important to allow for the international dimension of your work, allowing crews to play in different countries. In this regard, I wanted to inform you that through the platform Creatives Unite, we will organize a video conference with the cultural and creative sectors to discuss solutions and ideas put forward by the sector to learn from this crisis and build a stronger and more resilient sector. This will take place on 26th of June, and I encourage you to participate. I also want to thank you for the resilience, dedication, and innovation you have shown over these past months, pushing for new forms of collaboration via digital means. I'm fully aware that this cannot be a solution for the medium to long term. Digital means will never replace the unique experience of live performance, but I believe it is important for all the cultural and creative sectors to engage in research and development to step up innovation. Digital allows for new skills, new artistic formats, but also, very importantly, to reach new and wider audiences in Europe. In this context, I wanted to inform you, I have proposed to launch this year a call under Erasmus Plus, earmarked for the cultural and creative sectors to improve digital skills and support the social inclusion role of culture, in cooperation with the education, training, and youth institutions. This will certainly open concrete opportunities also for theatres. The focus will be on cross-border partnership and cooperation. Moreover, soon we will launch a 2.5 million euro call for the cross-border distribution of performing arts works, both physical and digital. And finally, a mapping study on the ecosystem of theatres and the impact of the crisis is ongoing, and should be ready for the European Theatre Forum organized in November by the German Presidency, in cooperation with the European Commission. This forum will offer for the first time a European representation for the entire field of theatre and performing arts. It will address the specific challenges for theatre to circulate internationally and create bridges between the various geographical, linguistic, and structural borders, enhance international collaboration. Looking to the present, I wish you a very successful event. And I have to admit that I cannot wait to go back to the theatre to see a play. Yours sincerely, Mariya Gabriel. Well, those were the words from our commissioner of culture in Europe, and I think it's been very important that she is giving such a strong message to us to move forward, to not let our arms just simply hang down, but yes, to take the actions that we have to take to continue our work, even though it wasn't easy, and theatres were taken away from society over the last months, a crucial experience for all of us. And now that we're slowly on the way to reappear, to retake our place in society, we realized, nobody waits for you, was something that we all had to feel, and it led us also to ask now more than ever before, do the arts actually have a lobby in Europe? Connecting the separated, and connecting artistic works with political and societal questions is what we intend to do. In collaboration with our member theatres, Schauspielhaus Graz and Cyprus Theatre Organisation, we produced the next program part, after an artistic intervention from Schauspielhaus Graz, based on the play "Nobody Waits for You" by the Dutch playwright Lot Vekemans. Marina Maleni, who is theatre development officer at Cyprus Theatre Organisation, who works also as journalist and TV moderator, will interview the cultural senator of Vienna, Ms. Veronica Kaup-Hasler, asking her if the arts have a lobby in Europe.
[A pre-recorded video plays.]
Karla Maeder: Hello, everybody, welcome to the Schauspielhaus Graz. My name is Karla Maeder, and I'm the head of dramaturgy here, and I'm here on stage of our big house, together with my colleague, Susanne Konstanze Weber, actress in our ensemble, Anja Wohlfahrt, who is an assistant director, who's behind the camera today, and Jochen Strauch, who is the director of a little play we're gonna present to you now, who is with us on Zoom, because he's living in Northern Germany. Actually, we should've all have been here right now at the ETC conference. And yes, due to the internet, we are able to unite in other forms. And what we're gonna do right now is show you something highly improvised, actually, on stage, because we have been rehearsing a play by Lot Vekemans, the Dutch author, which might bring some basics to your discussion which is to follow after this. Lot Vekemans wrote a play. It's called "Nobody waits for you", and it's a play with three monologues. It's about political responsibility of everybody, and the middle monologue is by a politician. Actually, the actress plays all three figures, ranging from an old woman who's over 80 years old, and the last figure is an actress, and the middle figure is a politician, and this part shows what it costs to be a politician. We're now gonna present a very short extract from this monologue, only a few minutes, Susanne Konstanze Weber will read this to you now in German, and you will see this is prerecorded. We did this on Monday in our empty theatre, and you will find out when you see the subtitles. And now, Susanne Konstanze Weber.
Susanne Konstanze Weber: I know it’s late and you’ve all been waiting a long time for news form our party. So I won’t seep you in suspense any longer. At the mercy of speculation, I’ve just had a meeting with the chairman of the parliamentary party and the party members, and I’ve informed them that I’m stepping down as party leader. We all know the facts: we suffered a heavy election defeat, and I feel responsible for that. I’m not saying I am responsible, I’m saying that I feel responsible for it. And when you feel responsible for something, you have to draw the necessary conclusions. Seeing that this is the last time I will be standing here in front of you. I would like to take this opportunity to say what’s on my mind. Shortly after I took office—I was young, I was ambitious, some you remember—I was frequently told not to be too fanatical. Don’t be too strident. Those times have clearly changed, and I must admit: I struggle with these changing times. In my time I was taught to discuss things. To let the other speak, even when I didn’t agree with him or her. The debate was my arena. That’s where I felt at home. These days I’m expected to shout my opinions from the rooftops. Or, even better, at a politician from another party. We thwack each other with our opinions as though they are rubber balls. And you now what happens when two balls bounce off each other: they become further removed from each other. You don’t need to be a physicist to understand that. For years now I really only ever think: there’s no time. There’s too much to do we must push on. We must do this we must do that. If you rush through this glass maze here on your way to a meeting, with the necessary documents in your bag with the sentences highlighted in yellow by your assistants and the post it notes with important statements “don’t forget!” Don’t think you’ll still see the bigger picture. Who do I actually represent? Do I represent anybody at all? How can we, we politicians I mean, how can we seem so certain? We’re living in times of major change. It’s a cliché, I know, but it’s also a fact. The impact of technology, the impact of trade barriers disappearing, the impact of a global rise in consumption, the impact of social media, it has fundamentally altered the way we work and live. It has fundamentally altered the way we think about one noter. It has fundamentally altered the impact of national politics on society. In the past, sure, in the past a Prime Minister could still address us with the words: “Don’t worry, you can sleep soundly” We were inclined to believe it. We wanted to believe it. What politicians would dare to make such a statement in this day and age? Nobody! It’s dangerous in politics to be sure of one’s ground. Politics is not a place of “the truth.” It’s not objective. It’s a place where we should talk to one another about everything we are not sure about. Where we should debate solutions.
Jochen Strauch: Well, it is not easy being a politician in times of change, as we experienced while we were rehearsing "Nobody Waits for You" by Lot Vekemans via Zoom, throughout Europe, from Brussels to Hamburg, from Graz to the Northern Sea. The minister of culture, Ulrike Lunacek from Austria, stepped down because she had a feeling that she could not make any effect she was willing to do during to the corona crisis. She held a speech which was quite similar to the one we now heard performed by Susanne Konstanze Weber. We were in a way deeply touched because we often are very, very, very easily upset about things which happen in politics. We think about what can we do, and that is the main motive of Lot Vekemans' play about self responsibility and about how to save our democracy. There is a special attraction to the play, that it is planned to be on site. So, normally at this moment we would perform it in some tryouts during the Drama in the festival in the city hall of Graz. It will always be performed in places of political power. For obvious reasons we could not do that, so we made this digital first period of rehearsals, and while we were rehearsing, something else happened in Germany. The kanzlerin, Angela Merkel, was circulated to have said in a meeting that she doesn't see any way to support the artists, because what would the European neighbors say? It was circulated that she was thinking about how would Spain and Italy react, or France, if she doesn't support Eurobonds, but she will support the artists. And a week later she went in a podcast in front of the cameras and said how valuable the arts are for Germany. But in a certain way, the thought originated in us, and we were discussing in our rehearsals, does Europe need a lobby for the arts, or is something like that already existing? Is there a political European lobby for the arts? And I hope maybe this little excerpt from our text, from Lot Vekemans' text at our rehearsal, may give a little impulse for the now-following discussion.
[The video ends.]
Marina Maleni: Well, greetings from Cyprus, and many thanks for this wonderful opportunity for communication with such a special guest, executive city councilor and state minister for cultural affairs and science of Vienna, Veronica Kaup-Hasler. Many thanks for this wonderful opportunity.
Veronica Kaup-Hasler: I’m happy you have me.
Marina: Well, under the general title, "Reopening European Theatres", we enter a discussion entitled, "Do the Arts Have a Lobby in Europe"? So, firstly, allow me to ask you, having worked in the field of culture as a curator, a dramaturge, a cultural manager, entering this discussion today about politics and culture, where do you feel more inclined to place yourself? Would your perspective lean more towards wearing the hat of a politician or the hat of a cultural worker?
Veronica: Well, theatre has a lot to do with disguise, and I think in this sense, I did put on a hat of a politician. But whatever I am was mainly focused on the arts. I felt always as a warrior for the arts in all fields, being a practitioner, being a visual director, to open up spaces for artist from all fields possible, from theatre, dance, to new media, to film, to visual arts. I had the honor and the big pleasure to have a multidisciplinary festival for a long, long time. I think I just, I'm still fighting the same fight, but with other means, and now it's the time really to make a change in politics, at least in the city of Vienna, and wherever I can, to gain more space for artists, and for my former colleagues, for future colleagues, and for the whole scene. I feel I'm still totally active in the field, but I have more competence now to make something happen.
Marina: And it seems like you are making something happen, and in many levels. I read that you've managed a 10% increase in funds, which is great, and it's not very usual as well. Do you feel there is enough dialog between people in your position and the national level, so that the funds can keep coming?
Veronica: Well, as you might know, there was a big shift, or many shifts in the Austrian government. We had this kind of Ibiza affair, where the big move in the government to the right, I would say, center right and right. Now we have a government of Green Party, together with the major big partner, which is the Popular Party, which, unfortunately, in the last years became more fundamental, more national, more shifting to the right, like anywhere else in Europe, besides Portugal, of course, which is always a exception. But so it was hard to have this kind of content. I do have it now I gave some weeks ago, a very big interview in the standard, complaining that art was not an issue at all in the whole crisis. Which finally yeah, make a big noise and put the art again on the plate of all parties, which I'm very happy. It's unfortunately made during resignation of the cultural State Secretary for arts, who was just new to the field, first of all, and not dealing rights, even though she was from the Green Party, but she she was not capable to ask for, for enough money. So it was really an embarrassment, the whole thing. And now art is again in the political agenda and we have to use a very small window of opportunity to reinforce the demands of arts, you have to sink that or to see that 0.6% of the total budget of Austria only is dedicated to arts and arts production, which is too little in the city of Vienna, it's different. We have it now by 2.2% of the city budget is for art's agenda, and I think this has to be absolutely kept. And we have to we have to deal with very harder issues which were harden before it was not only the crisis, the crisis brings it up, of course, even more than ever, but this kind of unfair payment in the arts, this was problem even before and so my initiative goes or has a lot to do with fair pay with really reinforcing institutions so that they can pay the artists even if the crisis told them, you get all the money even if nothing is happening, because I want you to pay your collaborators, your co workers and the artists and this made a big relief of course for the for the scene. And last year, we decided also to give money to single artists who might have never had subsidies. So they have this kind of engagement of until 3000 euros that can apply for grants. So working grants so they really can invest in their time research, doing their own archive making projects from all so that at least they have a little relief financially.
Marina: I love this idea of fair play. And this is something that we've tried to also enforce a Cyprus theatre organization for theatres specifically. We also have given out the subsidies in order to have theatres be able to pay their collaborators and there's also schemes coming out to help both theatres be able to survive this and artists to be able to be productive and to have jobs. How do you feel that, well, you mentioned the .06% of the total budget in Austria, but it's not that far from the European budget, which is 0.08% of the whole thing is allocated to arts and to culture. How do you...
Veronica: 0.08%, it's not even 0.1. So this is embarrassing, this is a shame. And we have to stand up against this kind of number. This is ridiculous.
Marina: How do you feel lobbying will lobbying for the arts or lobbying for culture is doing at this time in Europe? Do you feel that it's impossible sometimes for ministers of culture to convince their own governments to convince Europe or the importance of this?
Veronica: First of all, I think we have too little lobby in all of our countries. And especially also on the European level, I recall very well, how the discussion went that we don't have even a commissioner for the arts. So we have to make much more lobbying work. And it's not about this kind of many, many networks, we are all in or we have been in now, the IDM, the European Theatre, conventions, and there are so many networks on the college level. So it's not about that we are not talking to each other. That's not the point. But we are not enough, including politics into that. And we should use now the time really to restructure our way of lobbying. We should really make big pressure, a big pressure on the national level as well, on the European level, that art is an issue and culture is an issue. We needed more than ever, for our social health, for psychological health for the way democracy will shape. So I have a, there's a big disbalance in this kind of colleague Nick networks, which are many on all levels. They're very often focused on one art sphere, which is already problematic, maybe because for the lobbying, we should unite. We should from my view, we should really take their hands from opera to theatre, to visual arts to filmmakers, really on a very, very broad level. The civic society is standing up and claiming the need for more funding in the arts. It was an embarrassment before, but the fights which were fought were only on a very small level. So each sector try to gain as much money they could get in their, in the field. So these particular interests are helping to make our helping ignorant politics to just give some presents from now and then to some parties, but to really go together and regardless which sector of the arts that everyone stands up is kind of raising up on a national level would help a lot and if the pressure is enough, so that I'm also fighting on the on a national level for at least 1% of the budget of the on the national level that we have at least 1% of the budget. If that could be a claim also for Europe, well, 1% would be super great, but I already would be happy if they raise it from 0.08 to at least 0.5%. This would make a big, big difference. And we needed also to develop the EU, the European project, which I still, I'm in love, still with the utopian momentum of it. But I am very critical about the ongoing development since years. And this kind of coming back of nationalism, but only if we have a strong impact on national level, we can push it also forward on a European level and this has to be done very quickly, right now. It wasn't already Faler infrastructure before but now we have to raise our voices I think.
Marina: Well, do you feel that a European lobby for the arts would be assisted by, for example, something like the European Theatre forum, which is an advocacy forum under the German, EU Prince's presidency with arts organization representations so that the real issues are effectively addressed by artistic input. So, I agree with what you're saying that we need to cluster everything and so we have more power and force. But I also feel that perhaps addressing the artistic side of things in specific might help. What do you think?
Veronica: No, art is always in the center. Of course, the art is in the center. And you have to do both. The one thing is the political agenda. The one thing is that organizations like the European Theatre Convention, join forces with like wise organizations, similar organizations, for other art fields, so that this kind of Super Mega structures come together and join forces and put the pressure have a stretch strategy in order to move things on on the national and European level. So this has to be done. On the other hand, we really have to preserve the main focus should always be the artists at the end. They are the ones we care about, and not only the artists, also your audience, and we have to do anything we can do in order to spread out in our communities. Not only that we make problem for the already convinced and they converted, but that we really tried to get new audience and make them experience how important art is for, for creating a social space. The social tissue we have is mainly created by arts and maybe the music industry or the music or theatre and I think theatre has a wonderful analog thing, which is can't be competed by digitalization. We all see the streaming of so many things and we is nice very often it's super nice, but I'm already tired seeing people in their kitchen playing the guitars. We need the being together. We need feeling each other, we need cinemas for instance. Also even in terms of streaming and the availability of Netflix and all this kind of things, I think and that's why I put really money into arthouse cinema, because I think the physical sharing of spaces is so important and we need the challenge also active art is doing so that politics is not trying to use the art to solve problems they created and they are not able to solve. So this kind of well intentioned, projects is all mostly an artistic problem for me. So I think art has been independent on autonomous in the doing .
Marina: Indeed, and I love that he stressed the fact of gatherings and being together and purpose the performance aspects or the the live performance has to be strengthened and continue of course. Allow me to ask you feel you said that you mentioned all these things that need to be done from the artists point of view from the cultural workers point of view from our point of view trying to work with arts. And I would like to also address perhaps what needs to be done from a use point of view in terms of practical things. For example, we had the first EU theatre expert group on initiative by the European Commission to which ETCS executive director Heidi Kiba, Heidi Wiley was invited to consulting setting up and such initiatives might give us a voice and might work. What do you feel should be addressed at European level from their side to ours?
Veronica: Yeah, I think that burnings has to recognize the importance of all art forms of the role of art in building up societies also as an possible antagonist space, and they have really to put more money into already very precarious structures. We all know that our structures are more and more endangered. And if we only have this kind of neoliberal view of how many people do you reach, and how many tickets you can sell, we have to see that this has some something to do with education. So this is cross overthinking. It is education, it is social engagement, it is also dealing with the most important issues of our times. And art can do that, art is always an avant garde, in doing so, but we need to have much more money put into that sector. This is always the first thing that's why I also fought for it in the city of Vienna because I realized how precarious the theatre situation even in such a rich city like Vienna, how many people are really just surviving and we need a strong politics which is fighting for that it is dealing with the financial departments. It is the help of initiatives of all kinds of institutions as well as the free scene which is so important to the whole cultural sector. And this is let's say in my position, what I can do now is, I try to first of all, we are working together also in this to prepare a situation with people from the medical side, bring them together with artists and theatre makers and performance artists in order that we can try to figure out in all those limitations we have right now, what is secure way of doing the arts right now to make theatre. And so we have guidelines, we develop guidelines, which will be put online very soon, we also translated them in English. So because we have the money to really to make people work specifically on the needs of performing arts, and so there are some fruitful guidelines everyone can download very soon so we can provide that. But generally, I think we have a moment which is so dangerous as we have to keep up on voices in order that politics really puts more money into the whole field of arts. That's what we have to do. And we have to fund also the free scene, I think that's important.
Marina: I believe it's tons and communication and in these terms, we recently just opened theatre performances, We've had our procedure organization in an open air theatre. And I do feel that communicating with artists in Europe and sharing information on how to do that is essential. So, thanks for offering that information. We are coming to a close and I would like to ask you if you would like the last word for our network of European theatres watching this short interview on what you consider the key factor in reopening theatre, after the pandemic, you mentioned the magical part. But I would also like to hear your thoughts on that.
Veronica: Yeah, I don't know, the situation in your country. But in Austria, there was a really filthy move by the government, because we had an epidemic law for epidemics, which would guarantee all the theatres and cultural sector and other US economy to get money for the loss in tickets and everything. This was guaranteed in this law. On the first day, they used this law to implement the state of emergency more or less, but they made a new law which extincted this paragraph. So the notion of paying to the people and I'm still fighting for this because this will be crucial in the survival of everyone here in that artistic field. So I think we have to, we have to try to guarantee the institutions that they have the possibility to survive. Like in Swiss they said, We give, I don't, it was like 286 million franc for the first three months. So they artists there and institutions are quite calm and they even prolong it as long as the crisis is going on. Because there will be a loss if you want to be secure, you have to have a certain way of seating, like in a chess play. Where you have one seat taken the next sit next to you is free. So this is a way to hopefully prevent the corona viruses.
Veronica: They can wave, Yes, so but this will, this will be super not economical for the theatres. And that's why the state has to guarantee they have to guarantee that these laws come compensated. And I think on the first level, the theatre convention has to make sure that this is an issue for all of Europe that come the compensation of the ticket loss is there is provided by the European Commission.
Marina: Thank you very much. I do hope it happens. And I do hope that thank you very much for this conversation.
Veronica: Yeah, I thank you and continue, Be subversive as much as you can and we're in a good mood and keep on fighting.
Marina: I hope that we will be able to to gain this bet with audiences to come, our friends up to come back to the theatre, and I do hope that theatres will be supported so that they can go on.
Veronica: Yeah, we've had all everywhere we are, in fact, great.
Marina: Thanks. Thank you very much.
Veronica: Bye. Thank you for the conversation.
Heidi: Thank you very much for the Senator from Vienna and also Marina Maleni for having conducted this interview, we've also recorded this already in the beginning of this week. I think the message from the culture senator was very clear. We have to lobby for the odds. There is no other way. She showed us also the complexity of the issues. And I think one of the main criteria is to strengthen structures to strengthen the artists and to make our voices heard. May I have now the pleasure to introduce you to Marko Bradish, who is moderating the actual panel discussion of how to reopen European theatres. He is artistic director of the Slovenian National Theatre in Nova Scotia. Welcome Marco.
Marko Bradish: Thank you, Heidi. So, we have the corona crisis. We are where we are but slowly things are settling down and we are getting ready to open the theatres. Some countries open the theatres already others are far away from it. But joining me today are three people that are actually very much involved in this whole process of opening the theatres on European level. I would like to present you Iris Laufenberg from Schauspielhaus Graz, I kind of made it. Schauspielhaus Graz, okay? from Austria. Hello Iris.
Iris Laufenburg: Hello.
Marko: And then Dubravka Vrgoč, General Manager of Croatian National Theatre Zagreb, Hello Dubravka.
[Dubravka Vrgoč says hello while mic is turned off.]
Marko: Hi. And Norbert Rakowski, from JK Opole Theatre from Poland. Hello, Norbert.
Norbert Rakowski: Hello, everybody. Hi.
Marko: So we're getting back to making theatre in this new circumstances, but how are we doing it? How I mean, the thing is, there are health concerns, financial concerns, restrictions, social distancing, that all really, really influenced the work that we do. And first and foremost, there's the health concern that was raised during the Corona crisis where our respective governments, more or less left us to our own devices. I don't think that there was a country in Europe that got really clear message from the Government from the health institutions on how to work in theatre. And that's why I would ask Iris to kind of present us with their process. Iris was one of the first theatres that actually had a very good health plan very good plan on how to possibly return to work when the crisis is over or in early April, late March. So please, it is could you take us through the process?
[Iris begins speaking while mic is turned off.]
Marko: The sound.
Iris: So can you hear me?
Iris: Thank you, Marko for your introductory words. It's so nice to hear all of you and to see you again. Now at ATC panel discussion, if Corona didn't happen, we will have seen us not only live now, but I will hosting you in the Festival of Korean drama. Initially, I would like to summarize the situation we found ourselves in after the shock effects of lockdown had dispersed and the different challenges and obstacles we were faced with. First, we realized that we are being neglected by our politicians, all of us. And even worse, we were not seen as relevant for society. We realized then that nobody knows better than we are steps was needed to work at the theatre. So we created, as you mentioned our own measures by comparing our different theatre develop departments, with the relevant departments of society to be opening theatre soon, by the way, we shared the short catalog with the ETC to share it also with you, the members of ETC. But one important difference between Austria and other countries is that, that here, the health, the health guidelines are not as restricted as maybe in other countries. And, for example, to Germany, Germany has the problem as well that there are different federal states and so all the states have different rules. We have this in Austria a little bit too because in Vienna, the situation is a little bit different, as in the listeria because listeria, the incidence rate is not so high. So now we have to consider it between insurance and self responsibility. For example, in Germany, it's the situation is, in this case, totally different. The rip of the reputable, reputable bow home theatre opened yesterday. Maybe you had heard it with alias Connect display. The days are numbered in an auditorium for 800 people with 50 sold tickets for mass audience. And on stage, there is a distance the rule is a distance between three to six meters. It's a really strange situation. We are here in this situation. In Austria, we are speaking now about less than a meter distance everywhere and with this distance, we are hopefully going to expect more or less normal audience situation without masking autumn path from the fear of having a second week, we have a lot of challenges ahead of us, I think now's the time to consider what we should keep and what we want to change. But first of all, the problem is all of us we have to bring our audience back by evoking that trust and having a director program. We ended we all ended abruptly in March with an audience and in this case here with more than 90%. So the financial question is also a huge, really a huge challenge also here. Even so I am confident audience will come back we have to confront them with more than they are going to expect even we need to sell tickets for our budget, we must not run after our spectators. We theatre makers have now willing now this is the time to think about our resources relating to the waste of time to waste of energy, the waste of materials, the waste of human capacity and the waste in general. I think we must ask ourselves and as artists, theatre makers and as the role as role models in society what laughs or what unnecessary habits are not practical anymore nowadays. Maybe to be as well in case relevant maybe as a role model model in this case. In conclusion with all our flower of reopening, we start with this energy theatre energy. Let us not forget that we must change things. And I would like to hand back to Marco and maybe we can talk about our concrete practice of change during the discussion furthermore, if you want to thank you.
Marko: Yes, this is a… thank you. This is absolutely a scene that we will open up later on for the but I would like to get the word now to Dubravka. Dubravka, who is one of the first theatres to open Croatia was one of the first countries to actually go back to theatre and we've also started in Slovenia, but for the first week we the actors were wearing. [Marko puts on a face shield and the rest of the panels laugh.] How did it go in Croatia? What are the financial implications? What are the practicalities of going back for the biggest creations theatre that also includes opera, drama. Dubravka.
Dubravka Vrgoč: Hello to everybody from sunny Zagreb. Just to say in the last three months we survived two big crisis one crisis was Coronavirus and other crisis earthquake, which actually we had in Zagreb of 20 to 22nd of March. So, we are here. I just want to ask is it possible to show the short way down of reopening Croatia nation theatre at the moment.
[A video with the following title cards begins to play.]
It’s opening night at the National Theatre of Zagreb. After being closed for two months during lockdown, the National Theatre is holding an Opera House Gala. Over 2,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have have been registered in the country of just 4.1 million. [The video shows a theatre at half capacity with audience members sitting far away from each other and vocalists performing an opera behind music stands onstage.]
Dubravka: Actually you saw the video which was streaming 26th of May in Croatian national theatre and it was the day of reopening the theatre, but just to tell you the short history of the last three months, so we close the theatre at 12th of March as and the same period as many European theatres, as other European theatres for the few weeks either completely confused, and we didn't get any, any guidelines for anybody, no politician. No, any kind of European politicians or any suggestion. So we were quite lost. And then we started to do it online presentation of our data performances, I mean, the opera drama in Berlin, we did with the main Croatian daily newspapers on their YouTube platform, and in one and a half months, we got half million of visitors well this is quite a lot for creation. And then we see are planning the same programs in the case if we will be, have a possibility to do in life. And first of all, we got to suggestion from the politician and from the ministry that we are supposed to close the season 2019-2020 because there will no be any possibilities to continue. At the same time, we are planning to make some small program from outside on the time when we we will be allowed to do it. So, in the beginning and the end of April, we get to small short concerts we are planning to do in Zagreb, and it was a quite idea to be the gift for the citizens of Zagreb after the earthquake because the situation especially the center of that was quite depressed and you can imagine if you have an earthquake and More than thousand houses was really damaged during the earthquake in the center of sacrament the same time, we have a lockdown of the same city of the whole city. And it was a quite desperate situation. So the politician actually the part, of our government, which will allow people to do something in this period allow us to make short concept of 20 minutes. But the idea of this concert was to be like in the place where people can could listen or watching us through the balcony or through the windows. So fourth of May, we've allowed to do it in this project, we call it Croatia National Theatre in your neighborhood. So we went to the different neighborhood to Zagreb, and got this small, I mean, short concert, it actually means it's two fingers with singing, and one pianist was coming through this, and at the beginning of fourth of May, when we open it, it was allowed to be five people together on the street that getting better from time to time. So we got the 10 concert around the whole Zagreb it was a big success. And we get really connection with the audience for the first time, it was very emotion. I mean, in the both side and the beginning, people were crying, I mean, our singers and audience, and even like it was not allowed, there were a lot of old people who was coming and our own audience and really wanted to be with the, with the touch with the artists and to get a possibility to be really unlike audience in a real theatre. So at 11 of May we were allowed to do the recursive what was actually we didn't know like two days ago, we didn't know that we could do it. So we continued to do it. rehearsal for, for drama, opera and de la and then really like from 18th to 19th of May we were allowed to, to start to continue with the season. So we decided to take all the measures and as you could see in the audit in the window, we really make for one week we will really try to make anything safe and follow with the rules we got for the health department and silver Silvio Petit six reopen with the concept you sell. And at the moment it is it's opposed. The theatre has 709 seats, and at the moment we are supposed to have 250 seat. But at the same time if you have a opera program, it's last because there should be four meters between them. Singers or musicians and the audience so it could be different between the ballet drama and Opera. At the same time as we didn't know that it will continue the season we plan for program for outside the theatre. And we now during the parallel to program in the theatre and the program outside the theatre outside the program. Outside the program it's like a concept like the Summer night in equation nation theatre. It's a concert, it's some ballet performances. And it's also some drama interactive performances are more like happening. But this crazy nation, the samurai education, national theatres are completely for free. So the last of the initial theatre of the moment, it's really quite big because for the two months we didn't play, so there is no box office money. There is no Any kind of income and we at the moment we didn't know. And we don't know, we will not know for sure for some time, what will happen with the money we got from the Ministry of city regarding our program for 2020. So there is no news. And there is no any guidelines, what we supposed to do with the programming. So this is not only our situation, but the whole European Theatre are faced with a situation of loss of money, and not really know what will happen. And if government will give the money for the loss of for example, the box office lost or for programming. In Croatia, the government gave the money for the independence artists who are not who are not able to play to perform in these free months. But also I think it's really important to stress on the institution. Because the institution is quite fragile, you know, during this time, and still, we don't know, what will be our future. Regarding the second free father, fourth wave, or we don't have any guidelines on how we will work in September, we hope it will be normally but it's just a hope. So I think that it should be really very important to know how to get more information about our nearest future, but also as a network to give some really platform to see, is the future will be normal or probably not. And in which way we also could be flexible regarding the money and regarding on program, and what kind of new initiative and new idea and we can get, I mean, generally.
Marko: Thank you Dubravka, yes, this raises important questions on actually how to do the second part of the year, because the loss of income, the loss of also the timing, the loss of time, because I, I personally needed to postpone one project and then postpone another one. Cancel one of the performances already, we have no idea what money we will have for the autumn because if they are not willing, we need to co finance our own performances with our own money, which means that this money is now gone. What will this mean? There will be rebalancing of the state budget in July so we are pretty much everybody's up in the air and we will probably need to resort to some parts of guerrilla tactic to make it to keep the system running. Also what we did in Slovenia was that we kind of kept the co-productions. So the co-productions, the performances that more cities can profit from. So basically that we do one performance and then played in copper Maribor and the Nordics, for instance. But how does this work in international level? Norbert, this is the cube. Now, the borders are still more or less closed. Countries are still trying to preserve the close borders to kind of- for the benefit of tourism to keep the guests at home. What do we do with the international cooperation? Norbert, your thoughts?
Norbert: Hello from Poland, north of Poland. At the beginning I have to say, sadly, it also became clear with pandemic, that we're extremely far in social needs. But also more than extremely far in government priorities. It's really sad. So we got now, any rules, not pandemic law, we got the gist recommendation to open theatres. And it depends up to every artistic director from the theatres. But when we are talking about challenges of keeping the international activities, running a production selling exchanges, of course, nobody knows. But it's crucial, though, to invent new ways for international collaborations, including traveling ideas and exchange possibilities. It's impossible to force the future but it's very likely will be left without festivals in the forum as we know of course, and I was thinking of course everybody are thinking what we can propose instead probably, probably of course, long term collaborations as co production are more likely. And we can bring artistic for example, we can bring artistic and production teams with all needs health regime and quarantine, we can present more than one piece for example in festivals. It means we have to maybe it gives a unique chance for very precise and responsible international theatre and programming. And although it gives a unique chance for a very I think it's also have to expect funding cuts of course. and lack of interest in international theatres, maybe of course, because nobody knows. But we are, of course waiting and we sustain in international processes. Also launching new ones including dance project related to the Coronavirus pandemic aftermath, it goes Danse Macabre 2021, made by our programming by another Petrushka, Polish choreographer. Also we planning to make our last cup production. I'm no word with the Madrid I hope it will be in 22 we plan Chinese and Japanese present Chinese and Japanese theatre companies. Also we preparing showcase in December in JK of Opole Theatre. Of course, only plans right now, we are not open, we are pretty lucky because we are we have a renovations from beginning of March, and we want to open theatre in the end of September. So we can say we're a bit lucky in this moment because we planned this renovation constructions from two years. So everybody knew that we don't play right now. It's our our particular example. But in Poland, some theatre start to work normally, I mean, an ordinary way not ordinary with the temperatures with some regime. But we also starting new co productions, but in Poland, not in international to co productions with Kavita and like Anita, from 16th of June we start rehearsals on the stage, King Lear directed by Anna Wisner which with 15 women and one man. It means a lot of people on the stage. So we need to figure out our own procedures to be safe and be safe with the actors. So of course two meters on the rehearsals, mask, temperature measure, and it's also for two weeks in the end of June. Then we start the rehearsals from half of August, also to next co production with another festivals. As I said at the beginning, nobody knows what happened because we don't have a pandemic law. So as I said, just a recommendation and we don't know what happened. Also, we are planning a big festival in November. It's a Polish classic glamor when we reopen theatre, and right now I can say I invite you for a showcase in December from we got a whole plan and I can send you of course, even invitation. But let's see what happened. So what is really, I don't know, funny, but it's really a bad word. But it's interesting. A gentleman is a model example when it comes to support for artists during pandemic for polish artists, like, because we don't have any support, I mean, just very, very small. So that's it, maybe, when we really think about programming, International Co productions, we need to think about new rules. And maybe it's a kind of topic for discussion or discussion because I'm not right now a expert.
Marko: Thank you Norbert, let me just remind everybody that at the end of this session, we also have a Q&A. So question and answer segment. So please send your questions in the chat. You have a, there's a chat button. And so yeah, come up with things to talk about. My next question is for all panelists. And it goes like this. So Corona is here. What do we do now? What do we do in terms of artistic vision? Do we change the place we're playing? Do we change the how we produce things? Do you know maybe that I mean, how to approach this Corona thing? Of course, people were coming to me and say, Oh, yeah, we should do comedy on the Corona, this should be so funny. Everybody would want to see it. And I was like, I'm not sure is like only one joke in there and you might repeat a few times but I'm not really sure if this is gonna work but this with social distancing with all these measures with the second wave looming above our heads, are there things that you are thinking of how to adopt your program to kind of fit into this new lockdown era? Iris.
Iris: I saw Dubravka you want to say something, okay. I think we don't need on stage Corona topics because we have the society things they are burning and we see the things as we only commenting before, that we're before that we maybe haven't seen or not enough like through a burning glass. And so for example, the environment questions and all the things you can choose place or collect people to say something about that or to bring it into artists and it's for me, it was always our topic or our goal. But now I think we see things clearer and we and we see that we are the same and violent gangsters in the arts or in the cultural companies as other people are as well, because we're drinking plastic maybe not but yes, disk contains stuff contains with all this meats and all the things and but and we have to think about it and we have to change as I mentioned before, as role models and also the same. Also, because we are in a way company and we are acting and we are traveling like, like you have no idea what's going on in the world. So it's seeing things very important.
Dubravka: I just want to say that we face now about a problem and we could see that our sector, cultural sector, but especially the performing arts sector, are most damaged than other sectors during this Corona crisis. And in this case, as we are talking today about reopening the theatre and some theatre in Europe is not open. Some theatre, it will not be open like UK theatre. I got a message from my English friends that the UK theatre will be open in the maybe in the December 21. I think that we have to really think about the position of the theatre in the time in the society. And in this case, we also I think that we need to rethink as a reset about the our repertoire because it couldn't be the same as it like one year ago, or when we plan 2020 of the season. And so writing about programming about the repertoire, rethink about the financial, I mean support and how we will actually survive in financial way, but also the rethink of possibility of international cooperation, as its Norbert say, it's a big question mark, what will be about the mobility, and we know that, like one of the main issue of European Commission with the European Union is the mobility but this mobility now is stopped. So we need to think what kind of mobility we can use it in the nearest future. And in this case, what kind of collaboration we need to set out.
Norbert: I think there is another big or even biggest question, who is coming back? Who will risk their comeback and why. So, maybe that will be the reasons reprogramming something. You know, I mean that how to approach them with the programming, how to meet their expectation that people who will come back. Of course, it's the risk for them or who is responsible for themselves you know, so this is there is a lot of questions.
Norbert: More questions than answers.
Marko: Absolutely. So, the thing is, now we have some questions, and so, can you talk a bit about solutions for rehearsals? What is the Impact of lockdown in your artistic program for next season? So we touched a bit on we started in Slovenia we started rehearsals as I said with the mask and visors like this after three days, this was lifted so and then there was a period of confusion regarding, do we need to wear masks or not? There was like first the instruction was you only need mask if you're getting closer to one and a half meter then it was like you don't need it. Then they open schools in school then the first week it was only 10 kids together in each separate bench but then after a while they they put everybody together so in Slovenia we kind of set okay. So, basically we are the actors are like a group of pupils in school, which means that they are together all the time the same people are together, they're going back to their families. So situation is pretty analog here. So we kind of said okay, nobody knows what the instructions are, but let's simplify that. Of course I checked with the actors, if anybody has any reservations about that, and of course they were really really eager to get back to work and re resume work normally because at some point these measures will be dropped and to kind of go on using that and putting it into the play. Like there are two families one has visors and the other has masks. it's a joke but it's after this is irrelevant. It's not a joke anymore. So we kind of did that. And there's also question what is the reaction of audience we are also opened up for for the audience in all Anovarism, and people are really eager to get back. They- it was a dance performance, that usually doesn't get a lot, a lot of attention. But we were sold out we actually were a bit over capacity because some people from the theatre also came so we needed to fill the seats that were marked with excess but the thing is, and the reaction from the people is they really miss theatre so that of course Slovenia was not hit as hard as some other countries might be. So I’m—Dubravka maybe you how did you restart the integration, the rehearsals?
Dubravka: Are you asking for the rehearsal or for performances?
Marko: For rehearsals.
Dubravka: Yes, we started with because before the started with the performances, and we started the rehearsal like in a quite normal way, because of our measure. There was just a measure for singers and for musicians to be two meters in the concert sink space but for actors and even for ballet dancer there is no measure. So they could, I mean have rehearsal in the old or so called normal way. I just want to say one thing about the audience, because there is a question about how we deal with the audience. We didn't have any problem with the audience from the moment we opened the theatre. People were not afraid at all. Even like we have a set two sits together and then boxes together but people who didn't know each other they wanted to sit to each other, and they didn't use the mask during the performance of course Croatia had and still have a great situation regarding the wires. So we are almost Corona free zone. Not really I mean we have two cases yesterday, but not a lot of cases for a few days. So but people are really craving to be in the data again. And we—I don't afraid that people will not fall the houses when they were allowed to really fulfilled the houses.
Marko: Yes. There's a next question. How do we make sure our borders remain open and lobby for clear guidelines for travel and give artists the same exceptions than workers from the other sector, so international touring can happen in the autumn? This is a very good question. I'm pretty pessimistic about this one. Because we tried to get answers from our governments regarding the work at home and you know going over borders is implies a lot of diplomacy. For instance Slovenia and Austria had like a diplomatic falling out with Austria opened all borders except to Slovenia. And it was from Slovenian standpoint it was our you're just trying to protect your tourism and you don't want people to come to Slovenia, Croatia to the seaside. And when at some point they kind of open the borders. So there's a lot more than just to that than just I do think they actually understand what we want, but they're not giving it to us. And of course they are not even willing to speak to us. So basically, we probably we'll need to do something that we did like it is with the health protocols, we will need to do it ourselves. So we need to find loopholes on how to continue doing that. But of course, a lot of that is dependent on whether the second wave comes and what this means in terms of do we so once there's a second wave probably theatres will be the first to close again. So basically, to have a backup plan with sales with social distancing probably will not help at that point. But of course, any of our other panelists have a thought on this how to lobby our way into international touring? [Pause.] Norbert maybe.
Norbert: I don't know how, I don't know what else to say what I, it's quite difficult question.
Marko: Yeah, I mean, this is the situation we are now in and I mean, the thing is, we are running creative Europe project for teenagers and we just had a meeting yesterday. We thought we would just cancel it. But then we said, okay, now let's try to meet. So we are trying to get back on tracking even with our international activities, even though despite it seems like really shaking. But there's always concern of governments just changing on a whim. The rules for instance, I had a costume designer from Montenegro that I needed to kind of finish the premiere we're doing now. And she got all the papers, right, she got everything. And there was no, there was supposed to be no quarantine between the two countries. But when she landed, they put her in quarantine for 14 days. So, so then we just needed to quarantine her in the workshop for costumes because there was no other way to finish but the thing is, it's really unclear and we'll really improvise a lot.
Norbert: As you said, the theatres and the movies are rated internationally six to ten. In terms of risk, and gyms are on the eight to ten. So we are really high risk. And probably, if something happens, so we will be, again close.
Marko: Yeah. So, I mean, the problem is from the way I see it, a lot of there's the audience is quite old for most of the theatres. So this, of course, kind of elevates the risk. We have another question. Or no.
Dubravka: I just want to say one thing that there is a two to verse I think it's really important for this period, one word is to be patient and other one is to be flexible. So I think that things change and we don't know I mean, when the patient experience that is changed during the night they said, okay, it's allowed to play or not allowed. So I think this we cannot really know what will happen as we agree all about this, but also It could happen that things change. So I think this we really need to be very flexible and to have a plan A and plan B and Plan C.
Norbert: And maybe we should think about the completely new euro rules and regulations in the theatres. Like, think about it right now, you know, for the future. In Poland, we need to change it from 40 years and nobody did.
Marko: There is a another question, so, how there's a comment, creative Europe has been understanding and allowing current project to spill over in to 2021 according to our experience, Marina Maleni said, they have been understanding and of course, they were willing to accept, like online things instead of live meetings. But the thing is, my personal opinion is that we we we must not succumb to fear we need to go on. Really, because the theatre the point of theatre is live audience in the same room with the performance and the energy, that exchange is there. This is like the specialty of our sector. So I think we need to fight for that. And of course, be prepared for Plan B. But of course, this should be our aim to, to also get back to international touring as soon as possible. Caludia [last name inaudible 1:34:40] asking due to the lockdown of borders, are you changing your artistic program into a more local one? So yes, I...
Norbert: Of course.
Marko: I mean, the thing is, I needed to postpone a project with the Romanian director because she couldn't get here in time. So this was one one thing and of course one of the projects that was cancelled was project with Italian director. So this was because at that point, we couldn't be sure if they could make it. So this is one of the thing with those. How about the others? Did you change your international plans for this season Iris?
Iris: Yes, of course because there's no International Festival now here. And that I think it's worse to do to have theatre for local audience. It's very fantastic. And I think we have to do this international work, maybe first in a different way. And maybe there are digital editions we can come together in the next year to get to come together. For example, we have a lot of drama festival current drama, it's a profile of our house. And so we were invited to three different festivals to back to New Zealand to Berlin. And we can't go there. But it's a pity but also maybe it's a chance to get to come together all this off because they are the the issue the playwrights, and maybe we can come together in a digital way. Maybe not only Europe in an international way, because we know each other, not personal but we know each other. We can focus some topics in a digital festival. It's not a substitute for to be alive festival. But we have so many festivals for current drama, and maybe this there are solutions inside. And we don't see now, but of course, America I agree. We see it as Life Of course. And I love my local audience. And I want to prove now is there more diversity in society here in class and in studio. So that's also go with me. We didn't really we did but not as the main focus. And so there are also changes in this disaster. Dubravka, international.
Dubravka: Actually, we didn't change a lot I mean we postponed because as you know the creation greater is has the presidency of EU for this for six months in the Corona time. So we postponed the many international guest performances either the performance is supposed to come European support, performance is supposed to come to Croatia or either the other way around that we have to go to the different European destination. So we just postpone for the next part of the season and as I said, we didn't cancel anything also in a opera. We started to rehearse within a European, I mean with the French director and he will come in the beginning of September to work with that to the whole team. So we hope that it will be possible. So we are continue to work as just to postpone everything to that to the next part of that ,Yeah.
Marko: Okay. There's another question about the support of freelancers. This issue is really, probably differs from country to country on what to do with freelancers. In Slovenia, they got the support for the month of April and May. They got like UTD. So, some money like 700 euros promotes, but of course, the government canceled the pandemic not to pay also for June. So everybody is now on their own. And of course, this is why, also one of the reasons that I kind of we decided to restart the season as soon as possible because a lot of freelancers are working for bigger theatres right now I'm doing the project with a dancers. And of course, if they're working, I can give them some dances. So but of course, this really depends from country to country, because in eastern countries, we have a lot of theatres with ensembles, which means a lot of actors are actually employed and there's a smaller number of freelancers, whereas in the Western countries, more or less, the majority of actors are freelancers. And of course, the support there needs to be much stronger for that period of time. So I hope this answers the question about...
Norbert: I can say, I can just say that we got a few programs for freelancers JK policy at also invite many people just to work because we got as usually referred to or theatre as a team. But we start with the new program auditorium online, which was specially for freelancers. And right now we offer for autumn and the next season's small groups like a freelancer as groups just offered the stages, one a month or two, once twice a month, pay on our stages for free. So this is kind of support freelancers, because our team is safe yeah.
Marko: Yeah, I mean, this is now actually now is the time to be for solidarity.
Marko: In our sector, because the thing the way I look at it is is like an ecosystem. There are freelancers that are feeding of the characters that need the cultural institutions that are buying our shows to show around the country. So this is all kind of connected. And of course, because the thing was there was an idea in Estonia are let's just take the tip the money from the theatres and put it in the freelancers. But then I mean, it helps in the first wave. But the second way with without us having money, we don't have the money to pay them. So it's, again, a heat on the freelancer. So I mean, it's a complex. It's a complex system. And that's why I think this system is only as good as as long as it's running. And of course, the question is whether we should change the system are right on point because this system only works with 95% efficiency. So if we drop below 95%, the things start to collapse. And of course, now with I mean, our theatre lost more than 50% of income because at this point, because of this stoppage, because we couldn't sell shows and we sell most of the shows during this period. Because in the autumn, we usually have the premieres and we have a lot of shows at home. And then we go on the road and these shows on the road are actually bringing more money than shows at home. So this is a very, very delicate situation. But yeah, we have another question. Do you think the pandemic will affect the view on artistic freedom in Europe? Is this a question in your countries and in your artistic or networks? If I may start the thing is, in Slovenia, it really depends on the kind of government we have. When the government is right wing, they're really trying to, let's say, to influence the public opinion against the arts, and they're really not good partner to try to get some something done. Whereas the left wing governments are willing to talk about but they don't really do much as well. So basically the but at least they're not. They're not going into artistic freedom things. So the question here is what we will do? Probably I mean, my question is, how it will affect the finances? How will the finances affect artistic visions? The thing is, of course, us as cultural institutions, we will probably need to make more money. So does that mean that we sacrifice some of our artistic projects and do more projects for the general public? This is basically a concern. I haven't changed anything in this regard. So I haven't done it yet. But at some point, if it becomes a necessity, probably I will need to look into that to keep the system running, but yes, please.
Norbert: I have to say that for last three years, we didn't make any comedy. Even both are reverse. And right now, we are trying to figure out somehow, probably in the beginning on 21 apiece who will support us, you know, supports the artistic way of the theatre. So it means so we need to find a kind of balance of it.
Marko: It is. Dubravka.
Dubravka: I don't think that I mean, now we could see only the financial consequences of the crisis and I think that soon we will see other consequences of the crisis. But I don't from our experience, it doesn't mean that we need to make make very popular theatre to get a more audience I think, our experience because a few years ago when we came the new team came to the National Theatre it was empty and we were doing artistically more interesting program to get people back to the theatre and we succeeded. So I'm still believe in these that it doesn't mean that you need to go below the level artistical level to get to get the people back in the theatre I think that you need just to make it either as a safe place. And and that's also with some artistical challenge, get them in the theatre back.
Marko: Iris you are..? Okay? [She nods.] Okay. There's another question here. Which is about when did you announce the season? How are you going about announcing the new seasons, for season ticket holders. This is not applicable to all theatres but those who have the season tickets like for instance now agreed. So we usually announce our program around the middle week for the next season and now we push this back to August so because right now I still have no idea what I will do I need to actually find another piece of the puzzle to actually complete the season and we cannot do that until we get the confirmation from the government about our funding for the rest of the year. So, this is kind of a bit of a complicated situation. So we will we will after the 17th of August we will go out with the program and we will start season ticket subscriptions. Dubravka.
Dubravka: Yes, we will work thinking a lot about this ever working a lot about this because we are big data and we have a lot of subscriber. So we decided to post on because usually we come in June, we started to the audience starting subscribers starting to buy the tickets for the next season abnormal, so we postpone it to the to the beginning of September but we do the whole plan. I mean the the repertoire for the subscriber, we got a program booked for them we got the flyer, so we did everything as it will be normal and then we can make it like a flexible situation it will not be not normal also, because we have some performance was not able for subscribers to see for this season. So we make a voucher for them. So they can buy the new oven a man with less with this voucher. So that make a balance for the new one. So we are pretending that everything will be okay with the full audience. We will start to do it at the beginning of September.
Iris: Yeah, but in that it's similar to that we have decided that we, we planned the big stage will because this is relevant for the subscribers. And so we there was a program a magazine with the program for the huge stage on the end of June. And subscribers know they won't they will be back on their seats. Hopefully that this the situation and we will give them the tickets in the end of August but we want them to be sure that all the things are going on and autumn and the other stages. We were offering the program in October for the other to the experimental stages and we have lots of plans, but we are not sure we have enough money to do all this program because we need Of course, the tickets, of the youth stage, big stage and we have planned now very carefully with 50% of the audience. It's only to be to be sure that we can go on and go on and I'm really Yes, I think we can only to get to go and steps in the next season.
Marko: Okay, thank you, Norbert.
Norbert: I have to be sure we open theatre. I mean, everything depends up to their record construction. So if we finish at the beginning of September, we open in the end of September, and there will be no problem because everybody are waiting for new openings. This is this is cool. But we have a kind of programs and we start selling tickets when we will be sure we open theatre.
Marko: There was one last question about how to increase the audience not to get back only the ones who are already convinced that theatre is cool, but how to approach new audiences and how to approach schools. Schools are for novel Greta Ark kind of important archive but the thing is we usually have a meeting with them around this time but this year we just said let's postpone it to August because nobody is sure on whether the health I mean what what the regulations will be. So at this point, the teachers in Slovenia are a bit reluctant to go to schools because the problem is taking the responsibility. Nobody wants to take responsibility. So the government doesn't give any rules on how to behave because they don't want to be responsible. Of course theatres, we do what we do, because we needed to keep the system going. But again, we wouldn't like to have the responsibility for epidemic on our hands. So probably time will tell about the schools. Does anyone else have?
Marko: No it's the same, exactly in Poland. It's absolutely the same. Yeah, okay, so, thank you very much. Thank you, Iris, Dubravka. Thank you Norbert for this for this session. I hope we answered some of the questions addressed some of the things regarding reopening when giving my word back to the ETC stuff, and I hope to see you soon live.
[Heidi and Serge reappear.]
Heidi: Yes, thank you, Marko, Durbavka, Nobert, and Iris for Yeah, those thoughts that you've shared with us. I would directly pass the word on to Serge to young say a few closing words since we want to respect our time schedule as well to finish off at 12 o'clock. So Serge.
Serge: Thanks Heidi I don't have a lot of things to add. I'm just really surprised because the situation is so different from one country to the other. You know, I thought blankly yesterday in Madrid we are to open the venues, and here in Belgium, we can open the venues in till 200 people were wearing masks, but without no dispensing social distancing.. The situation is so complex, it's so difficult because and it's very strange that nobody in Europe can really find the right way to manage this. Obviously we know that this situation in different parts of Europe, it's not exactly the same. So probably we I hope that we will continue and develop maybe new ways of every link with our audiences. I think it's this is really important that what Marco just told about schools. We are also really involved in these and to find new ways. I think this is an occasion and I hope that's true. Together we can find new ways to work and to work also internationally as Dubravka has said. Thanks a lot and have a good lunch, unfortunately, not all together. Thanks a lot, goodbye.
Heidi: Thank you Serge. And before you're all off to lunch or going back into your filters to continue the preparations. Let me just tell you also, there are lots of other resources or of what's going on right now about how to open theatres surveys, also indications with clear figures and numbers of the implications. On our website, so I really invite you to take a look also to find additional resources also for your own work on our website. Let me thank very much our collaboration partners from Chatham House grads from Cyprus theatre organization. Also already from last night PLR was free theatre, we started to discuss the revolutionary aspect also of theatre to still be continued as part of the current debates, to come up with a future of our sector to survive this pandemic. I want to say thank you to our various many speakers from all over Europe who have taken the time this morning to share your insights with us. Thank you, Marko also for this wonderful moderation of yours. I want to say thanks to our members and guests who tuned in who took the time to join our conversations and took part also in the debate afterwards, I want to say thank you to our livestream viewers for watching and use the last moments to announce the upcoming events as part of this conference. This afternoon at two o'clock we continue with a digital theatre webinar offered by our colleagues from the Academy of digital Theatre in Dortmund in tigard, Deep Space meets theatre at two o'clock here online tomorrow our members and invited guests hopefully joining the General Assembly of ETC, and the next ETC, Coffee Break the moment for international networking, that we also have time to explore further the topics from today but also address actual international collaboration. And followed by this next week we have a collaboration with Georgia tiata as part of the US Festival on the 21st of June, members from ETC, from Poland, Czech Republic, Belarus free theatre Hungary. Join us in a discussion on Sunday about news from the east. We will have our European Theatre Academy on the first to the third of July and join the dat for the looks and book during them talent lab, also from the first of the third of July with online discussions about the future of Europe. And last but not least, let me invite you to put down your agendas in November from the 11th to the 13th the European Theatre forum will take place what Commissioner Gabriella announced and I'm pleased to announce that ETC is organizing this event together with many other organizations from European performing and theatre. So please join us then, as well as to the next ETC conference from the 26th to the 29th of November, hopefully in Hungary. Well, and if you want to find out more about ETC, or maybe how your theatre can join us, just have a look on our website, or contact us. We will be happy to speak to you get in touch. And now. Thank you, everyone. And yeah, have a nice day. Goodbye.
About The European Theatre Convention
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As the largest network of public theatres in Europe, the ETC has about 40 European Members from over 20 countries, reflecting the diversity of Europe’s vibrant cultural sector. Founded in 1988, the ETC promotes European theatre as a vital platform for dialogue, democracy and interaction that responds to, reflects and engages with today’s diverse audiences and changing societies.
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