IETM Rijeka Plenary Meeting 2019

24 October 2019 to 27 October 2019

In a never-ending attempt to defend their relevance, the arts have labelled themselves with a variety of concepts and frameworks, each triggering open questions and conveying a hint of confrontation: community art or participatory art? “High art” or grassroots culture? Cultural democratisation or cultural democracy? Professional art or everyday creativity? 

What is participation in the arts: yet another product of neoliberal thinking or a meaningful audience experience? At what level and in which phase should audiences be involved: on or off stage, in the creative process or in delivering a performance, in the management or in the mission and strategies of a cultural organisation, or at each of these steps? When we address audience development, are numbers not at all important, or if they are, how can we combine them with genuine exchange and forging stronger bonds with citizens? 

We live in an age in which valuing the status of the artist is becoming increasingly acute. At the same time, we are confronted with the urgency of involving communities and being socially relevant. How can we create a space where respecting the professional artist coexists with celebrating the everyday creator, where highlighting the social responsibility of the arts is not paired with their instrumentalisation, and where audience development is understood and rethought in a variety of ways and not solely in funders’ jargon?

Organised in collaboration with Rijeka 2020 - European Capital of Culture, our Autumn Plenary Meeting in Rijeka deepened and challenged the most common understanding of the broad, complex and fascinating theme of Audiences. The subject was explored from different angles through 25 sessions where 317 participants could voice their opinion and fuel the discussions with their own expertise and experience. The meeting also offered participants the opportunity to take part in artistic walks and discover some of the great projects developed in the framework of Rijeka 2020. 

Our local partners compiled an inspiring artistic programme that allowed us to embrace the local performing arts scene and get familiar with the city’s cultural life. And what would be an IETM meeting without a set of informal networking activities? Be it the welcome reception, daytime meeting space or late-night meeting point, Newsround sessions or speed-dating exercise, participants were given the chance to greet new members, establish new partnerships and meet old friends.