The International Agent reflects on the many cultural perspectives, views and types of practice that enriched the Adeste+ Conference and Summer School

November 19, 2020
Photo of the author - Jonathan Goodacre

Jonathan Goodacre

Originally planned to take place in Rijeka in Croatia for a week in September, instead the Adeste+ Conference and Summer School ran from June – October online, reaching people from around the world. The debate about ‘virtual versus physical’ will rumble on for a long time yet, but whilst we missed being in the beautiful Croatian National Theatre with its roof painted by Ernst and Gustav Klimt and the excitement of the European Capital of Culture, it would have been difficult to host the 700 people that took part in the online version.

Indeed, there were participants from 60 countries in 6 continents (we missed Antarctica), and more than 50 external speakers / contributors. It meant that the debates were enriched by many cultural perspectives, views and types of practice, addressing the important topic of audience development, cultural democracy and the change this demands for organisations. The circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic brought an extra dimension and urgency to the discussion, hence the title of the series – ‘Change within Change.’

It formed part of the large scale Creative Europe project - Adeste+ - of which The Audience Agency is a key partner. This looks beyond the audience development initiative to explore how we can take a more holistic approach, involving a variety of disciplines. Organisational change is therefore an important component and is being addressed through several strands, including workshops, policy forums and artistic programmes.

The series had two strands:

  • conference sessions that brought expert contributors together in presentations and discussions
  • and a more concentrated summer school for a smaller group of people.

This latter part took participants through the stages of the Audience Centred Experience Design Blueprint that is currently being developed and will be completed in 2021. Whilst there were occasional technological challenges to overcome and considerations around how to make these sorts of online sessions fully participative, feedback from participants was largely positive.

Much of the content of the Conference Series is now available in handy chunks HERE and apart from the great content, you are sure to love the fabulous opening animations by Portugues artist Mark Parchow (as also illustrated at the top of this blog).

Following on from the success of this re-imagined series, the Adeste+ partnership is now considering next year’s conference and summer school which, pandemic allowing, is due to take place in Turin. Though now there is the new challenge of bringing in the successes of something delivered online...

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