WORK HARD, LIVE HARDER!
For the first time in over two years, IETM organised a large-scale, physical IETM Plenary Meeting; this time in collaboration with Bitef. Organised within the frame of the Bitef festival 2022 in Belgrade, Serbia, the IETM Belgrade Plenary Meeting was a vibrant 4-day event with over 350 participants, full of artistic works to explore, talks and participatory discussions, a pre-meeting excursion and plenty of training, pitching and networking opportunities.
Our IETM Belgrade meeting title - Work Hard, Live Harder! - was not chosen in a vacuum; coming out of the pandemic, hard statements and questions need to be addressed.
What is the state of the labour market in today’s late capitalism? Where has neoliberal exploitation left us? What is happening with workers’ rights regulation and working conditions after the pandemic? How is labour transforming in the performing arts and theatre? How can the arts field embrace care, friendship, solidarity and find the feeling of stability in a dramatically changing world?
When faced with numerous conflicts, the transformation of international relations and cooperation regimes is inevitable. The notion of stability needs to be revisited. With this in mind, we wanted to position the topics of work and labour as cornerstones that influence the feeling of stability/instability, not in a patriarchal military sense, but within a feminist and ecological frame of interdependence.
The reasons to tackle these questions were rooted in ever-evolving forms of neoliberal exploitation that affect work in general, and specifically work within the performing arts and theatre. By placing these issues in the context of the host city and country (Belgrade, Serbia), we discussed with colleagues and guests the strategies, resistances, challenges and collective struggles of a transitional, post-socialist, post-war society, as well as the devastating consequences of misused market liberalisation, retraditionalisation and pauperisation, that we have been submitted to. We wanted to raise these questions from the perspective of a country where the majority of artists cannot fulfil their basic existential needs while working professionally and earning less than 500 euro per month.
This debate was supported by Bitef, one of the most relevant theatre festivals in Europe, within the ground-breaking artistic program of strong political statements. We could not wish for a better place to share these concerns than an international, multicultural community of performing arts professionals gathered around IETM.
The IETM Belgrade Plenary Meeting was a members activity, but non-members were also welcome to take part.
The IETM Belgrade Plenary Meeting 2022 happened as part of our Creative Europe project The New International in the Performing Arts (NIPA): Bridging local and global.
The photo in the banner is taken from the final episode of the Yugoslav TV series ‘Our Shows’ (May 1973), and shows a youth volunteer movement that was established during WWII, based on the principles of solidarity, comradery, and joint venture. Millions of young people participated in the voluntary workcamps and built motorways, railroads, factories, entire cities even. We believe that the story behind the picture represents the different aspects related to work and labour which we will tackle and explore at IETM Belgrade, such as disability in the arts, feminist leadership, safe working environments, how to tackle burn outs and much more.