In May 2017 Rosie Strang, Articulture Co-Director from Articulture Wales and freelance Producer, attended ‘Fresh Street 2’ an International Outdoor Arts Conferene in Portugal along with 350 outdoor arts delegates from 40 countries. The aim – to explore, share and discuss outdoor arts, along the theme of ‘From Innovation to Sustainability’. The event was followed by international outdoor arts Festival ‘Imaginarius’.
Here is her account of what it was like to connect and learn with the worldwide movement of practitioners working in outdoor arts, taking part as a contingent representing Wales, and how attending this kind of event can been really inspiring and energizing for artists and producers.
It’s a very exciting prospect, heading to an international Conference to explore and connect with others, and see new outdoor work. And a bit scary too! This was the first time that I had attended an event like this in a professional capacity, so it was with butterflies of all kinds that I stepped off the train near Santa Maria Feirra for five days for Fresh Street 2 and the Imaginarius Festival.
The aim of going was to start scoping new opportunities beyond the borders of Wales for Wales based artists, producers, and programmers working in outdoor arts – to get inspired and make new friends. Articulture’s activity in this field until now has been attending the London based Xtrax Showcase and Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, and providing bursaries for other Wales based practitioners to do the same (in June, in collaboration with Creu Cymru 25 artists, venues, funders, and producers will be going to Xtrax/GDIF).
This year, with support from the Arts Council of Wales, it felt time to step further afield, building on the networks we have nurtured so far. I did this as part a Wales crew which was great – Zoe Munn, Producer, Ali Williams, Director/Producer, Camille Benuossen, NoFit State Circus, and Marco Fiera, Performer.
Fresh Street 2 is the second International Outdoor Arts Conference hosted by Circostrada Network and ARTCENA, this time in partnership with the Imaginarius Festival (it’s biennial, the next one is really close to Wales – Galway in 2018). As a relative newcomer to this international scene, I found it a really beneficial experience overall, even on a basic level of getting known and meeting people, both from the UK and across the world. The world of outdoor arts is warm and welcoming, and the people I met were generous in introducing me to others, so I soon felt relaxed and at home.
It also helped me think about Wales and the work we do here from an international perspective. During the past four years Articulture has focused on sector development in country, building partnerships across the border into the UK. The conference programme offered the opportunity to look at fundraising differently, get useful insights into audience development, challenge and explore new ways of looking at what outdoor arts is, swap experiences with similar organisations, and build links for touring/producing work beyond the UK.
Through a series of panel discussions, talks, networking lunches, and late night cocktails, insights and experiences were shared, new friends made, and new outdoor art work enjoyed. As with many of these kind of events, not everything felt useful, and many of us reflected on the irony of getting a bunch of outdoor arts practitioners to sit down for several days inside! But on balance, once we had been unleashed into the Festival post Conference into the streets alive with performance from around the world, the week felt like it had been a fruitful adventure. Good contacts were made, and inspiration and energy gained to now put into action what I have learnt, and also share widely with others back home.
Interested in attending an International Outdoor Arts Conference or Festival?
Bursaries are often available through Wales Arts International, or the Independent Street Arts Network.
Contact Articulture for more information – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: ”Wales crew @ Fresh Street 2′ – Credit/Zoe Munn