As part of an agreement between the Australia Council for the Arts and IETM, a programme of activities has been developed to begin building a sustainable matrix of relationships between Australia and Europe by seeding international collaborations via artist and producer residency and research programmes.
The aim of the project is to create new opportunities for Australian performing artists, companies and producers in Europe.
For IETM, it ensures continuous presence and active involvement of Australian performing arts professionals in the network and a good information flow with the Australian arts scene.
The project began in 2009 with the appointment of David Pledger, an Australian artist who spent two years in the IETM office developing the project. Pledger was followed in 2011 by Sophie Travers, who spent a similar period in Brussels before returning to Melbourne, Australia, from where she remains in the role.
IETM’s two major annual meetings are the starting point for many of the projects supported by this initiative. Other projects stem from conversations with partners outside the network, initiated either by Travers or by the artists and producers actively investing in their international relationships. The programme targets partners with influence and the potential to create momentum for Australian performing artists in areas where they might not otherwise be involved.
All the projects begin with a shared set of aims between the partners and a strong investment of resources and commitment to the long-term relationship. They are characterised by their potential to develop over time, offering wider opportunities beyond the initiating partners. Almost all projects involve a degree of reciprocity and exchange and some include international collaboration.
The curated programme is only part of the project’s outcomes. Advocacy and networking creates other opportunities for Australian involvement in European projects. The dissemination of information raises the profile of Australian work in Europe and the understanding of the European context in Australia. Supporting artists touring in Europe or researching opportunities for artform and professional development are less visible aspects of the role that broadly seeks to stimulate curiosity and exchange.