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Report on SuSy scholarship by Ágnes Grélinger

 

Jardin d’Europe’s scholarship got me the opportunity to work with Workshop Foundation from August 2010 until February 2011.

The aim of the internship was to get to know the contemporary art and especially the dance scene, to get familiar with all the legal and economic background of it, to network and moreover to form new cultural managers and be part of a wider cultural managerial society. We were dealing with the Foundation’s own programmes, we participated in their programmes supported by the European Union and also we had to do our own research in this field.

Workshop Foundation has a very important role in Hungarian contemporary dance scene, their work is unique. They are providing support for independent artists, encouraging their artistic development in order to facilitate the development of the whole Hungarian contemporary dance scene. Three permanent colleagues and two interns are working within the organization. 

The call for the scholarship drew my attention immediately, because I’ve always been interested in this area, I studied economics, so this cultural manager internship gave me the ability to connect skills I’ve learnt with what I am passionate about. I already knew some of the Foundation’s work, and programmes, but as I realized only afterwards, there was a lot I didn’t know before. The actual learning process and my personal development regarding this field was much bigger then expected beforehand.

In the beginning I joined two of the Foundations’ own programme. The Dancemarathon is a two day event, where people can try out all kind of dance classes’short version. It gives them the possibility to choose and for us to promote dance. The other one was EDIT – International Dancefilm Festival. I helped in the final steps, and during them. Dailylife tasks included handling the emails, following the news, and putting them on our Wall to make it reachable for all those, who come to our Regular Dance Classes and to Trafó. The Foundation is responsible for a Dance studio, where they have the dance classes mentioned before, every day. When the studio is not occupied by them, it is opened for anybody to practice for free, this way also helping artists. My task was to organize the schedule, to advertise the classes, and be in contact with the teachers. Connected to the classes, the Foundation has an event called Demonstration, where the participants of the classes show a 10 minute sample of each class, so it gives them an opportunity to perform and people to get familiar, what these classes are about. I could join the preparation of this event, start to organize it for example by contacting people, checking the graphic design of the poster, advertising etc.
„Research into the Unknown” is an improvisational laboratory organized by the Foundation, a residency that aims at encouraging artists to research on improvisation as an artistic tool, as a means of creation in contemporary dance. I had to work with the hungarian participants of the fall semester, and organize, promote the application for the spring semester.  I was also responsible for the edition of the organization’s newsletter, and to find volunteers for our events. There were some monotone, but necessary elements like archiving our films, or introducing accounts to Excel file.

We had a staff meeting every week, where we talked through and divided our tasks. Every time we had an education session of these meetings, where we were thaught about the whole dance and culture scene. We were encouraged to use our imagination and creativity by inventing a programme and in theory make it come true step by step; so we had an idea of how to bring it through, paying attention to all the details like finance, legal background, timing etc. We had to go at least four hungarian dance performances a month, but we could go more according to our interests; and we discussed them afterwards.

We participated in a lot of events as part of the Foundation. We had the opportunity to go to Impulstanz Festival, and the Danceweb reception. We participated in the meetings of the contemporary art scene, a conference about regional cooperations, and the biggest was the the second edition of the platform for contemporary Hungarian performing arts entitled dunaPart.

 

All-in-all I found the programme very useful, and with Workshop Foundation’s staff, it was even more inspiring. Their willingness to help, their knowledge and personalities created a great atmosphere, working with them was motivating. I think even in half year, which I may find a bit short, they managed to educate us to be able to become a cultural manager, we gained both detailed theoretical and practical knowledge, they helped us networking and getting in contact with a lot of people and organizations.

 

However, the financial opportunities in this area are not the best, Workshop Foundation actually can manage it quite well, thanks for all the foreign partners, and cooperations they are participating in. This is a „creative industry”, so maybe difficulties are even „stimulating” sometimes. What also makes it hard is the difference between artists’ and managerial point of view, but there are also initiatives to get them closer.

 

The internship was more useful and inspiring then expected. I got to know basically the whole Hungarian dance scene, all the European networks, scholarships, opportunities for artists and managers as well, the relations, how to organize programmes, so we can say, an overall view. I got to know the bright side, but also the difficulties, and I realized that this is what I’d like to do. It motivated me that much, that I am currently searching for a job in this field, and I would like to continue working as a cultural manager.

 

Research: I wrote my thesis on how culture and art can affect urban development all around Europe. I also took a look at the financial possibilities, and I compared the European practice, with what I have seen in Hungary, especially concentrating on Trafó’s work. What was found is that …and also Budapest and the government of 9th district, where Trafó is, is taking into serious consideration their work. They know the potential, and changing power of this field, but of course the realisation is much harder. Nowadays, all around Europe governments have to cut their expenses, and the first field where they start, is culture. That creates a bit heavy situation not only for organizations, but artists as well. One of the most important possibilities are the cooperations, which are highly supported by European Union among artists, and different cultures. 

I based my thesis on the research I started within the Scholarship. I wrote about how culture and art can affect urban development all around Europe.

During the last decades the effort towards transforming industrial cities into service-oriented economies has been accompanied by a growing interest in using culture as a tool for urban regeneration. After the post-industrial transformation of the western societies culture became a dominant factor in urban development. In the nineties the institutionalized culture-led development turned into an essential part of the cities’ urban strategies.

In my research I examined, how this practice is applied nowadays in Europe, and in Hungary. I tried to find out if the so-called cultural regeneration exists in our country, considering the European Union environment, which provides a framework for the Member States’ cultural policy. I payed attention to the former procedures of urban development. I search for the role of culture planted in the capital’s urban planning strategy, and present the Hungarian financing system for culture.

 

In Hungary after the regime change the most successful “urban developer” district can be found in Budapest, called Ferencváros. The most dynamic district supports culture, gives it an important role regarding their concepts, and expects them to serve the society in a change of course.

The main part of the research I take a look at the IX. district’s data; introduce and examine my chosen cultural institution called Trafó –House of Contemporary Arts, which can be found in this district. I write about it’s history, and current situation, and try to analyze its part in the life of Ferencváros through given data of Trafó. Though it is a governmental institution, the district’s policy takes it into consideration, because it’s an important point of reference in Hungarian contemporary art scene, gives a prestige and also adds value to the district.

I also took a look at the financial possibilities, and I compared the European practice, with what I have seen in Hungary, especially concentrating on Trafó’s work. Budapest and the government of IXth district, where Trafó is, is taking into serious consideration their work. They know the potential, and changing power of this field, but of course the realisation is much harder. Nowadays, all around Europe governments have to cut their expenses, and the first field where they start, is culture. That creates a bit heavy situation not only for organizations, but artists as well. One of the most important possibilities is the cooperation, which are highly supported by European Union among artists, and different cultures. 

Also supporting culture became a „head-hunter” factor, also on national level. For example The Netherlands, or Austria are quite famous of their cultural life,   subsidies, and opportunities in that, this way attracting culture-fan intellectuals (even from countries, that can`t afford that) to go their and work for „them”. Or for multinationals, it`s not only advertising through supporting culture, and attracting new costumers, but also recruiting workforce.

I tried to look at the impact of the actual political situation on the cultural policy, I try to summarize the positive achievements, problems, and opportunities of the field, and point out the essential need of culture in the life of a city and it’s inhabitants.

Even though I`ve encountered a lot of obstacles I do believe the power and the necessity in it, and the possibilities culture has. And it inspires me to keep on trying, and I still would like to work in this field.

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