Kristin Oswald
studied history and archaeology as well as social media marketing. She is head of the editorial department of Arts Management Network and also a freelancer in online science communication and museum marketing.
Report International Forum on Cultural Management and Cultural Policy 2015

A format for exchange and qualification

Goethe Institut's first International Forum took place October 26 - November 6 in Munich, Germany. It brought together cultural experts from different regions of the world and different cultural sectors for a two-week intensive exchange phase. During this time, the participants got the opportunity to discuss current issues of cultural management, policy and administration. The global issues, ideas and skills brought forward during the forum reflect the opportunities and needs on professional competencies in the arts sector.
The tasks of cultural managers worldwide are expanding from fostering strategic proceedings inside cultural organizations andprojects towards being visionary leaders and pioneers who create innovative conditions and ways of thinking. The aim of the first International Forum thus was to identify the central topics and develop visions for the future of arts management as a basis on which cultural managers and cultural policy stakeholders can collaborate to shape and improve the parameters for artistic production. To fulfil that aim, the participation on the International Forum was designed as a two-week stipend in Munich for up to 15 persons. During an elaborate selection process, a balanced group of male and female cultural managers from a broad regional and professional working background was compounded out the broad field of applicants. In this way, Goethe-Institut brought together a group of experts that represented the multiple facets of the cultural sector: advanced freelancers, employees and leaders working in the creative industries, festivals, for cultural departments and organizations from the sectors of dance, art, film, architecture, design and heritage management countries such as Philippines, China, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Georgia, Turkey, Latvia, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Brazil and Zambia.

The core of deviating new perspectives and opportunities often is to come in contact with a wide range of also dissent points of view, with successes as well as failures of partners, colleagues and stakeholders. To use such approaches, the Forum encompassed workshops and discussions at Munich cultural institutions, presentations, event visits, peer learning formats and coachings. The International Forum thus was a rare occasion for the participating cultural managers to exchange with experts of the field independently of geographical or sectorial borders where they could recognize their commonalities in developing individual career paths, individual and new common projects.

To guarantee results that are sustainable in the long-term, the participants all belong to local networks of cultural professionals and have contacts to the regional Goethe-Instituts to make sure that the projects and ideas developed during the International Forum will radiate into the local communities and foster cultural development. Furthermore, on base of this precondition, the organizers could make sure that the knowledge and ideas developed during the International Forum would not represent a dominant western view of arts, cultural management and administration typical for Europe and North America.

Participants reviews and opinions on the International Forum

The Goethe-Institut aimed to offer a practice-oriented qualification to develop new professional skills and networks. After the Forum, we asked some of the participants about which issues are currently most relevant for cultural managers from different regional and thematic backgrounds, about their expectations, impressions and individual outcomes of the Forum.

Adalet R. Garmiany, is artist, curator, chief executive & founder of ArtRole, a Iraqi platform for cultural exchange through art activities between The Middle East & the rest of the world. He works in Iraqi Kurdistan on culture in post conflict zone and its role in dealing with extremists as ISIS.

Martim Dinis is originally from Portugal, but since 2010 based in Brazil, where he founded the Madame Teatro, an artistic platform for multicultural and interdisciplinary work. He has also coordinated the international relations of the International Theatre Festival of Belo Horizonte.

Prince F.M. Lamba works in the Department of Arts and Culture of Zambia as well as a consultant for artists, people from the creative industries, cultural managers or administer. He has worked internationally for public and private institutions and is founder and artistic director of the Pamodzi Dance Troupe. His academic background covers e.g. African musical arts, cultural heritage, cultural management, business administration, and diplomacy.

Next to the exchange formats, the topics recommended by the Goethe-Institut were the factor that mostly attracted the participants to apply for the forum. Cultural management practices and approaches on cultural funding in the different parts of the world were mentioned in particular. But although candidatures were motivated by the recommended topics, it became apparent during the Forum that practice and project focused discussions were a lot more important to the participants than theoretical and academic lectures. Further, all of the participants aindicated similar expectations regarding the opportunity to

  • meet experts for arts and culture from all over the world,
  • share experiences and get to know different considerations and viewpoints,
  • compare them to own perspectives, improve own projects and leverage local aspirations on base of critical reflections during the forum,
  • find international connections and partners for cooperations with other arts institutions and the Goethe-Institut,
  • enlarge the professional network.
Because of the different approaches and formats of the International Forum the participants in fact saw it as an in-training opportunity and international recognized qualification. The Forum experience is unmatched and gives one an edge in the career progression, emphasized Prince Lamba. The open and comprehensive interdisciplinary and intercultural approach differentiated it from other kinds of workshops or conferences that focus on special cultural sectors or regions.

The forums programme furthermore took into account participants' skills, questions, projects, and prioritised topics, which they had submitted together with their applications. This way, a positive impact on the professional competencies and skills of the participants was achieved in just two weeks. The inclusion of connections to potential partners and institutions, and the personal coaching sessions in the second week of the Forum enabled and successfully facilitated the realisation of its objectives and mutual understanding between all participants. They further especially emphasized the interactions with the cultural organizations of the City of Munich that reviewed some important considerations, strategies and possibilities. This resulted in fertile approaches for the individual work of each participant.

The group became very close from the first day on which was very special, pointed Martim Dinis out, There was a genuine interest in getting to know everyone and what each one was doing. The different working realities thus showed that inspiration is more fertile the more distinguished a group is. As the discussions made clear that the cultural sector all over the world lacks an international view with regard of cultural policy, cultural management and mutual understanding. To a large extent the multidisciplinary and multicultural characteristic exhibited among the participants was a great source of valuable information and realities, emphasized Prince Lamba. Furthermore, the carefully selected participants helped me to learn and appreciate other possibilities besides what I know and the management methods I regularly use in my day to day activities. This deliberate strategy ensured that participants embraced the diversity as a factor for unity through cultural diplomacy a core aspect for arts lobbying and the promotion of culture as a central task of cultural management in a globalized world.

The aftermath of the first International Forum

Next to exchange and qualification, another concern of the International Forum was the development of new and long lasting cooperation between the participants, arts organizations and the Goethe-Institut itself. One of the first steps is an Alumni Network to further cultivate projects and promote them in their particular context.

But since networking alone is often a pretty unspecific task that is lost quickly after an event, coachings and (financial) support for collaborative projects developed during the forum belong to the alumni activities as well. The seeds were planted and watered. Now the projects coming out of it will depend on everyone's effort, of the network created and of the Goethe-Instituts engagement to keep them growing healthy and organically, said Martim Dinis.

Societies around the world currently face a lot of challenges and due to that cultural managers as well. Therefore, it does not astonish that the topics most burning to the participants of the International Forum centred on social aspects of cultural management. Mentioned were opportunities to gather knowledge, dialogues and exchanges by sustainable platforms, foster community arts, audience engagement and co-creation and, maybe most important, to develop and promote utopian ideas.

Since the project ideas developed out of this format of intensive exchange, they mostly comprise more than one partner from the involved professionals and cultural institutions. And furthermore, they are emerging from the Forums group of participants and institutional partners to win new international partners as well. This radiating effect can be seen in these initiated ideas for possible projects:

Martim Dinis initiated:

  • the participation at the Munich artist residence programme Ebenboeckhaus together with the director of the Madame Teatro to further develop the theatres project and to win partners and residents in Germany for their exchange programme;
  • together with these potential German partners a long-term international residency programme at the Madame Teatro in Belo Horizonte that will bring together international emerging artists with local artists;
  • based on this residence programme a project that uses the space of the Madame Teatro as an incubator for artistic experimentation and network linking Belo Horizonte to the world with the support of the local Goethe-Institut
Adalet Garmiany initiated:

  • the participation at the forum Cultural Education Migration Participation by the international Munich Art Lab IMAL that brings together policy and administration stakeholders, project sponsors and youths;
  • the further development of Being Kurdish, one of the exhibition projects in which he participated, for a Turkey Festival in the Pasinger Fabrik Munich and of video projects at a film festival in the Muffatwerk Munich
Prince Lamba initiated:

  • a local project the Masala cultural village on community arts to foster social inclusion especially among local youths together with the Italian based Zambian theatre educator Martin Ilunga Chishimba, the Masala Creative Arts (MACRA) formation, the International Munich Arts Laboratory (IMAL), the Department of Arts and Culture in Zambia and the Zambian Twangale theatre lab
As the International Forum took place for the first time, the participants feedback will also be integrated in online workshops in spring 2016 to conclude the input of the event for further projects and the career of the participants as well as in the planning of the second forum in 2016.

At least, the Goethe-Institut wants to draw conclusions and arguments for a further dialogue with German cultural policy and cultural management stakeholders about international projects and to take a look at the question, if actual international projects and programmes do refer to the needs of international partners and circumstances and develop new perspectives for practical application in cultural work.
IMPRESSIONS Loredana La Rocca/ Goethe-Institut
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