tanzmobil – interview project to support dance production
- Our philosophy: Learning and Changing by Meeting and Doing
First tanzmobil tour from September 16th to 27th: Vienna, Austria → Graz, Austria → Maribor, Slovenia → Ljubjana, Slovenia → Zagreb, Croatia → Budapest, Hungary → Vienna, Austria
What is tanzmobil productions?
It is an association of two freelance dance producers and dramatic advisers, Mira Lina Simon and Sarah Blumenfeld, working in Berlin and Vienna. www.tanzmobil.eu
What does tanzmobil productions do?
tanzmobil productions deals with the broader field of dance production and is currently conducting the project tanzmobil – a project to support production managers in dance.
How is the project supporting the production field?
tanzmobil is touring Europe to interview production managers and artists working in dance and performance. The interviews outline the job profile of a production manager and the various approaches to it. It is a critical reflection of how dance producers work today, which problems they encounter in their work, how contemporary working conditions look like in the different dance scenes within Europe.
Why is that important?
The increasingly complexity of funding bodies and of getting a funding for a project gives a new importance to the role of production managers. The contemporary trend is to recognize that more and more choreographers are working with production managers. Unfortunately the formation field of dance producers is still lacking professional educational support and the working conditions are very precarious.
What is our aim?
This project aims to gather insight into the varied ways of producing dance in Europe in order to provide information that will be visible and accessible to everyone. Shared knowledge is a first step for an improvement of working conditions and a stronger appreciation and understanding of the production processes. The interviews are to be regarded as a starting point, which challenges the current production structures and tries to design new modes of production and education formats.
To who is the project addressed? tanzmobil is thought for all dance lovers and for all professionals in the dance and performance field who want to know more about production and want to become active with us to change the field. At the same time this project is dedicated to a broader public to discover through the interviews and exhibitions the dance and performance field in a new way.
Why is tanzmobil productions on kickstarter?
As a young association starting with its first project, we encounter difficulties to convince official funding bodies and this because our way of working and aims are unconventional and do not fit in any “funding category”. We are at the border between countries: Germany and Austria, between disciplines: production, research, journalism and artistic practices. On top of that, after working for the last year, doing the first interviews and spending a lot of time applying for funding, grants, residencies and sponsoring; we felt we needed to find an alternative solution. We are convinced of the viability of our project, and in order to develop out of the interview test-phase and to realize our first tanzmobil tour, it is essential to move on from unpaid working conditions.
When and where is the first tour realized?
The first tanzmobiltour will be from September 16th to 27th starting in Austria (Vienna, Graz), going to Slovenia (Maribor, Ljubljana), Croatia (Zagreb) and Hungary (Budapest).
Why did tanzmobil productions choose this citys/countrys?
tanzmobil productions wants to discover the neighboring scenes to our main working bases, Berlin and Vienna. We decided to start in Austria, because the dance scenes around Austria are emerging. In order to integrate east-European scenes more to the west-European market, we choose to go to Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary.
How many interviews will be conducted during the tour?
At least 10 interviews will be realized. You can find the names of the professionals and institutions involved below.
What is the concept behind the interviews? tanzmobil productions has developed a questionnaire, which contains and reflects the core issues of the project and serves as a guide for the interviews. It is a basis for the preparation of each interview and a first step of a precise research of every interviewed person and his/her specific work surrounding/conditions. After conducting the interviews, they are then transcribed, edited and corrected by a professional journalist or translator before going online.
In which languages are the interviews? The interviews are conducted in German, English or French, depending the preferred language of the interviewed person and are documented with pictures of the person, his/her work place and the city he/she lives in.
How long is the project running?
tanzmobil is scheduled for a period of three years. Each year, at least two ten-days tours in Europe will be realized. In addition interviews will be hold in cities where our job as a production manager will lead us.
Are there other activities planned?
tanzmobil productions is preparing an exhibition, has the aim to collect the interviews in a publication in order to add another dimension to the project and starts a residency programme in spring 2016 in France.
Financial support at any amount will help to cover the following costs:
- online publication of the interviews / website / host: 900 euros
- 2 weeks preparation of the interviews, collecting research material on the dance scene in every visited city: 500 euros pro person
- allowance for the team during the tour: 250 euros pro person
- travel costs, rent and petrol of the tanzmobil car: 800 euros
- per diems for the first tanzmobiltour: 270 euros for two persons
- accommodation during the first tour: 240 euros for two persons
- 2 month for the realization, editing of the interviews: 750 euros pro person
- proof-reading of the interviews: 500 euros
- marketing instruments: car magnets, postcards, rewards: 550 euros
- rent for video camera for documentation of the tour: 200 euros
- production of film, editing: 200 euros
- Kickstarter tax (5% Kickstarter/ 5% visa cards): 700 euros
first tanzmobil tour from September 16th to 27th: Vienna, Austria → Graz, Austria → Maribor, Slovenia → Ljubjana, Slovenia → Zagreb, Croatia → Budapest, Hungary → Vienna, Austria
Graz: Petra Pölzl, production dramaturgy, Steirischer Herbst; Dominik Jutz, head of production, Steirischer Herbst
Maribor: Petra Hazabent, producer, Nagib – international contemporary dance festival
Ljubjana: Nina Meško, Choreographer, Masa Institute; Iztok Kovač, production Managing Director, EN-Knap, Španski Borci Cultural Centre; Katarina Slukan, production, Bunker center for performing art; Jana Jevtovic, choreographer
Zagreb: Mirna Žagar, artistic producer, Zagreb Dance Center; Petra Glad, production manager, Zagreb Dance company; Tina Nevistić, choreographer, one - art - dance company; Dance week festival
Budapest: Luiza Moraes, choreographer; Kristof Farkas, dance writer, L1 Independent artists association of public utility; Marta Ladjanszki, volunteer curator and communication, L1 Independent artists association of public utility; Szabó György, managing director, Trafó - House of Contemporary Arts
SARAH BLUMENFELD – project management, Vienna
Sarah Blumenfeld, born in Paris, started with theater (cours Florent and Conservatoire du 14ème in Paris), she worked for different companies as a comedian and assistant stage director. With a master Diploma in Theatre and Dance she studied the relation between dance and politics through the work of Kurt Jooss and Johan Kresnik. Since 2012 she has been working in the performance and dance field, for different festivals as: TanznachtBerlin, TRANSFABRIK, far° festival des arts vivants Nyon, and for different choreographers: Antonia Baehr, Eszter Salamon, Laurent Chétouane. Now she is working in Vienna as production manager with nadaproductions (Amanda Piña and Daniel Zimmermann) and Alix Eynaudi. Parallel she develops her own projects both as a producer with tanzmobil productions vienna and as a performer with small artistic projects.
MIRA LINA SIMON – project management, Berlin
Mira Lina Simon studied dramatics with focus on dance, French and German literature at Ludwigs-Maximilian-University of Munich, Germany and dance at University Sophia Antipolis in Nice, France and graduated in summer 2014. She worked as assistant director at several theatres including the State Opera of Hamburg, Theatre of Kiel and Gärtnerplatz Theatre Munich. In autumn 2012 she accompanied the dance residency of German choreographer Anna Konjetzky at the Goethe Institute Montreal, where she was intern in the cultural programme. Afterwards, she moved to Berlin and worked from January 13 to April 14 for Sasha Waltz & Guests in the PR department. Her main focus was the administration and communication of the European funding programme “Cultural Ambassador of the European Union 2013”. After working for the far° festival des arts vivants in Nyon, Switzerland in summer 2014, she started working as an independent dance producer with tanzmobil productions berlin, parallel she works in the exhibition space Künstlerhaus Bethanien and undertakes several own artistic projects in the field of literature.
Videodesign and pictures: Carla Marboeuf - photographer, visual and video artist
English supervision: Emile Rabaté – journalist for art and culture
German supervision: Elisabeth Leopold – dance scholar and performer
Outside Eye: Yasamin Nikseresht – assistant of the artistic director at Tanzquartier Wien
Interview with Mikolaj Maciejewski
production coordinator performative program
Art Stations Foundation 5050
Our first interview! In November last year, we drove spontaneously to Poznan, Poland, in order to meet Mikolaj Maciejewski, a producer working at the Art Stations Foundation in the department for new dance and performing art, to present the idea of our project to him and to try out a first personal meeting. And: it was amazing! The Art Stations Foundation welcomed us warmly, after an interview in the office, we got to see a dance theatre performance in polish (we didn’t understand all but nevertheless it was worth it) and we celebrated their success at the first polish dance platform a week before. Miko has been working at the Art Stations Foundation for almost three years now and it was quite new for him to work on dance programs. The office is divided into two sections, one being in charge of the gallery and exhibitions of contemporary art and the other one of performing art. They are a very small office at the dance department, at the moment they are four people. Miko is in charge of all the production matters: he takes care of accommodation, travels, budgeting, promotion, the website and also printed materials.
Mira: Dear Miko, you work as a production coordinator in dance, what kind of studies did you follow, which educational background do you have?
Mikolaj: My first college classes were Russian and English philology, but it was only for a year. Then I did cultural studies, cultural management, but I had already worked as a cultural manager and as a producer, so I didn’t get much out of them. They were not very practical classes. The classes that were supposed to be practical were nonsense. Then for two years I followed intercultural-dialogue. This was more interesting but totally theoretical.
Sarah: What do you like in your work?
Mikolaj: I like to be in the process and to get involved emotionally. There is also a very special thing here, the artists do not represent a source of income for us. It was very important for me to shift in my way of thinking: I am here to provide the artist and his process is more important than mine. I can gain other profit than financial ones, other gratifications from this type of cooperation. They are all my friends, you know, we can disagree, we can have some quarrels, but that is the thing I like the most.
Sarah: What are for you the skills a production manager should have?
Mikolaj: There are many skills that have to be well handled and first of all communication aspects. You know you may not know everything, but you have to know how to deal with various types of problems. So I think that inter-personal or communication skills are the most important, and all the rest can be learned. You can learn about the field you work in, because as I said, dance was not my first field of interest, but I learned how to work with dancers, I learned about legal matters, about the dance world. This was a new language for me, but I managed to understand it.
Sarah: When you say communication, do you mean between you and the artists?
Mikolaj: Yes, it is like being in the middle. We are producers but we are also a presenter; we are a very strange institution. Actually we are the only ones doing this in Poland. We are not a production house, so we cannot call ourselves producers, we are neither a dance house like western types of dance houses, because we are too small and we don’t do all the dance questions a dance house does. We are not only a presenter, we are not only in charge of diffusion, we do as much as possible, but we are too small to do everything. Sometimes we have our own performances. This year we handled five productions and it was important for me to communicate with producers who were working under my command. I was the person in between them and the artists or the dancers. Another time we helped our artists getting introduced somewhere else. We were in between the artist and the other venue. We do all the work possible, but we have to teach artists how to deal with administrative matters. Often artists don’t know how to deal with those questions. It is quite tricky to explain to them how they should proceed with certain issues and what they should be aware of: that they should read contracts because they often don’t, read emails, and learn to be quite clear and consistent.
Sarah: Are there some other production houses in Poland? Mikolaj: In Poland? No.
Mira: Are there freelance production managers in Poland?
Mikolaj: There are other institutions. It is also changing now, but it is very sad that we are the only production office that covers at least a little bit of all those things. We have some money, we have space and people working with us. All the others are lacking certain things. Most of the time other dance institutions are only made of people, so they do productions, or performances, or festivals, or research but they are really depended on other factors like external money from the ministry, from city councils or from cooperations with theatres. The theatre world is well established but the dance world not at all.
Mira: Are you as a production manager travelling a lot? To other European countries?
Mikolaj: Not really, because we don’t have enough money and human resources for it. As I said before, we’re only four. But we support our artists when they are touring. It is funny, because as a production house we don’t have the copyright of the performances. We assist them during the artistic process, we support the artists afterwards, but they keep all the rights and all the income. And I am the one who is behind, trying to get everything organized.
Sarah: Where do you get the money for Art Stations Foundation? Mikolaj: We are founded by Miss Grażyna Kulczyk. She is the owner of the shopping mall we’re settled in. Our story is like a fairy tale. She understands what we do and we get support for our every day work. We have studios, we have enough money to provide for basic needs, but for all the extra projects we have to apply and get external money. We have to stay operative and to work hard to get and to provide the best for our artists. Apart from Miss Kulczyk and the shopping area, we get our money from the Ministry of Culture, from the Institute of Music and Dance, cultural institutions, embassies and from European networks. We were part of Modul dance and now are part of Aeroways, EDN (European Dancehouse Network) and SPAZIO, a European network for dance creation and formation.
Mira: How often and for which period can you apply to these programs?
Mikolaj: We have to apply every year to keep running the long terms projects but also to support the new ones. And if we do not get the money, we get stuck and we can’t do much. That is how it works.
Sarah: Do you think collaborations with European networks help you? How do you work with them?
Mikolaj: My favorite network, the one I had the biggest experience working with, was Modul Dance. I learned a lot. I was in charge of communication within the network. I was travelling a lot to meetings and discussing the way we were going to promote and communicate about the network in Poland and outside. I also met all the people in charge of the network. With them and the artists, we had a very vivid and useful exchange about each other’s knowledge. It helps a lot, because now, I can email one of my friends from the network and say: “Look I have a problem with this” and this is amazing. The network was built on four main modules and one was Carte Blanche. It was for un-established artists to study venues, not in order to create but more to learn about how they function. At some point during the project, somewhere in the middle, they decided that producers and employees of fellow network members could also use Carte Blanche to visit and learn from another houses. I went to Stockholm’s Dansens hus. It is very useful to travel and learn from other institutions and talk. Some concerns are common, you get to identify some problems you can maybe avoid in the future. It may not be your problem now but it can become one. I really appreciated it.
Sarah: Do you think European networks help the artists to travel more, to be more on tour?
Mikolaj: I don’t know if it is because of the networks. With dance it is quite funny because in Poland dance is still non-existent. So the young generation of artists are more European than Polish people.
Sarah: But Poland is part of Europe.
Mikolaj: You know, we are still quite new in the EU and what I understand as a European is that in the eastern part of Europe, there is no education for dancers and choreographers at all. Meaning, you have to go west: to Berlin, to Amsterdam, to London, to Vienna to learn, because otherwise you have no chances to learn in Poland. There are no universities, no dance schools. You can do it in your own garage but you have to go abroad to study. We have to convince them, to give them a chance to work and to come back. So being a network member is not sufficient, even if it helps, they provide money and contacts, but artists are really on their own. That is my impression.
Mira: We are surprised that the Art Stations Foundation is located in this big shopping mall. It is quite a contrast to have an art institution in a commercial space. How do you see the connection?
Mikolaj: It is quite clear actually, because the owner of the shopping mall has a philosophy of 50/50. Here there is 50% of business and commercial activities and 50% of art. We have to get the money from somewhere. Her philosophy gives us a huge support, otherwise we would not exist. So it is super cool, it is a patronage.
Mira: But isn’t it also a little bit of a dependency?
Mikolaj: No not at all, our artistic choices are free. We do not need to compromise. We are depending on the money but we do not need to explain our artistic choices. She trusts what we do even if there are failures.
Sarah: And to go back to your working conditions: would you say they are difficult?
Mikolaj: Not really. I work a lot, that is true, but it doesn’t really bother me. As I said, a lot of artists are my friends, so I spent my private time doing private stuff with the artists but that can also be part of the job. I work a lot but I am really fine with it. It is not like eight hours a day, Monday to Friday. It doesn’t work like this, so you have to get used to it, otherwise you will die.
Mira: How many artists do you have in charge?
Mikolaj: We have no artists in charge, we have artists we work with. Maybe I should go back a bit. What we do here is try to build long lasting relationships with artists. We have several programs running every year called our flag programs. That is how we meet the new generation of artists. One is the alternative dance academy. There are five, six or seven coachings a year. We offer different scholarships. We provide accommodation, travel and coaching. Usually this is for young artists. Like that we learn how they work and what their ideas are. Sometimes we meet somewhere in-between and help them further. We also have the solo project: we select three artists to build their solo pieces during the year. It is a more intense programme. We invest in some people and we build our relationship with artists. That is why I say that we are not in charge of any artists, because we are not. They are self-dependant, we don’t interfere in their artistic development, we try to support them. As you said before, they do not have money to pay any producer, and we can’t afford to be their producer but we try to teach them how to manage themselves.
Mira: So there are a lot of artists in Poland who need professional help for administration and communication issues but they can not afford a production manager. Is that the problem?
Mikolaj: It is a problem. To say it clearly, we do not do it for them but we support them and help them. We will not make applications for them, we will not read their contracts if they are signing them with somebody else. We are a satellite structure.
Mira: Are they satisfied with this way of functioning?
Mikolaj: We never ask them the question (Laugh). But they are still coming back. I think it is quite convenient for them, because they never feel forced. Of course they would prefer to have someone who would take care of all the formal questions, but they have to find a compromise. We also try to provide some touring opportunities, it is a prestigious action for us. That is why we work a lot, we try to support them and this in as many fields as possible.
Mira: What is your wish for the future, for the development of dance in Poland?
Mikolaj: It would be great if there could be more institutions like ours and maybe even bigger ones. It would help artists. Now it is like a little pot where everyone is melting in. If there were more institutions, the artists would have more chances to work it out and would not struggle that much. They would feel supported and would not have to stick to one institution. Times are changing. In 2012 we created this institute and it is really going forward. When this foundation started we were the only ones who had something and now there are more and more: so sooner or later, and hopefully sooner, it will change, and maybe freelance producers will also have a chance to work and survive somehow.
To read more interviews, go to our website: http://www.tanzmobil.eu/interviews
Risks and challenges
- If we do not receive the amount of money we will not be able to do the first tanzmobil tour
- If one of us becomes sick or injured or has a emergency we will move the tour to a later date
- (27 days)