The workshops serve to deepen participant’s knowledge about core issues related to the conference topics. Each workshop will be open to about 25 participants and directed by a person with special expertise. This workshop leader will define the specific content and design an optimal format for the 2-hour period. To introduce the workshop topic, he/she may choose to use examples from his/her field of activity, show photos or films. The workshop leader will be accompanied by a second person for assistance. This person might connect the workshop leader and the participants with ad-hoc questions and will also summarise the workshop at the end.

A1 Concrete Action Against Censorship

Friday, 28.2.2020, 10.00 – 12.00, Hörsaal 1

In its 2019 report on the state of artistic freedom world-wide, the international human rights organisation Freemuse describes and documents 263 instances of censorship (62% of them in the Global North). This censorship takes different forms: from restrictive laws or bans against “indecency” at the state level, to pressure for religious or political “correctness” on the level of social institutions; from direct prohibitions to indirect ones, such as requiring unattainable licenses, lengthy administrative procedures, or limiting the access of certain artists to cultural venues and audiences. In many cases, the failure to provide clear criteria for assessing what counts as a violation gives authorities additional power over artistic production and promotes self-censorship. The report identifies the main causes for censorship as the expression of political opinions, in particular being critical of governments or challenging dominant social, cultural and religious norms through artworks.

In the workshop, representatives of Freemuse will present their view on current developments regarding artistic freedom and describe options for concrete action at the level of state institutions, artists’ organisations, or engaged individuals.

Freemuse works on an international level in advocating and defending the freedom of artistic expression. Basing its work on human rights, it monitors and documents violations of artistic freedom and advocates systemic structural changes at the international, regional and national levels. It issues an annual, world report on the state of artistic freedom.

Workshop leader:
Srirak Plipat, Freemuse, Copenhagen

Honey Al Sayed (Media and Arts for Peace)

A2 Understanding the Potential of the Arts to Face 21st-Century Challenges

Friday, 28.2.2020, 10.00 – 12.00, Room 6.K04

As it becomes clear that purely rational, linear approaches to major global challenges are limited, the arts are increasingly seen as resources. The urgency and complexity of these challenges – the climate crisis, forced migrations, growing inequalities, rising authoritarianism, violence and the unresolved legacies of past violence, etc. – seem to be encouraging policymakers to consider the potential of creative approaches.

There are so many forms of art: art productions that bring people from different sectors of society together (for better or worse!); artworks that re-introduce a notion of complexity in discourses simplified by politics; artworks that speak to people from different times and cultures and unite them in a shared humanity; art performances that help people in dire circumstances to attain the sovereignty of humour…

What is it about engagement with the arts that make them helpful in addressing such seemingly insurmountable challenges?

We say that “art can embrace paradox”, “art promotes new ways of seeing”, “art opens up a space for experimentation”, “art offers a differentiated language for expressing emotions”.  But how does it do these things?

As we understand art’s unique potential, can we imagine ways to implement it to even greater effect – without overly instrumentalising it (and thereby compromising its aesthetic power)?

Workshop leader:
Cynthia Cohen, Boston

Isabel Käser, researcher, Swiss FDFA

A3 Institutional Empowerment of Art-based Initiatives

Friday, 28.2.2020, 10.00 – 12.00, Room 5.K11

In the case of art initiatives, sustainability has a different meaning than in business projects: the long-term effect of art initiatives lies in their impact on participants or audiences, on thoughts and attitudes that the arts can awaken. Even though these impulses can be very significant, they usually work indirectly and are difficult to prove.

Yet in the case of art initiatives, sustainability has a second dimension as well, an institutional one: the institutions that initiate art initiatives need to survive and be able to gather experience. How is this done in contexts where there is little state support of culture? In this filed, the Swiss Drosos foundation has significant expertise. We asked them to conduct this workshop. They write:

“Are art initiatives different than For Profit Organisations? What do arts initiatives need to successfully start-up, scale up and run smoothly? Drosos Foundation believes that arts initiatives need to rethink their organisational models in order to survive and be able to build up experience in contexts where there is little state-support for culture and meager private sponsorship. The Foundation advocates for an entrepreneurial approach to navigate complexity of the sector, build up competence, drive impact and aim for sustainability. Hence, it puts special emphasize on the development of (early stage) arts initiatives – investing substantially in institutional development through capacity building and organizational support. The Foundation has hereby chosen an approach that allows targeted support, very much adapted to the specific needs and capacities of the respective initiative and entailing a comprehensive and long-term commitment by both parties.

In the workshop, Drosos Foundation will put up its approach for discussion, presenting findings and observations from past project work and a concrete example: Zoukak – a theatre collective and association, dedicated to theatre practice as a social and political involvement, with a belief in theatre as a space for common reflection and in collectivity as a position against marginalizing systems.”

Workshop Leaders:  
Carole Guertler, Zurich, Drosos Foundation
Lamia Abi Azar and Mohamad Hamdan, Beirut Zoukak Theatre

Christoph Weckerle

C1 Distribution of Artistic Work and Access to it in Challenging Contexts

Saturday, 29.2.2020, 10.00 – 12.00, Hörsaal 1

The commitment of artists to asking critical questions, to differentiating what politics tends to simplify, to giving a voice to people otherwise unheard, or to pointing to new possibilities – all this is futile if it cannot be shared with a wider audience. Yet in political contexts in which the right to free artistic expression is not respected, a dissemination of artistic work that takes a stance toward critical contemporary issues may become very risky, all the more so as it is spread widely and made accessible…

How can other institutions, possibly also embassies or organisations from other countries, support the dissemination of such artistic work? What channels can they use to reach out beyond a small “art scene”? How do they evaluate the risk for the artists? What are their considerations when deciding whether to risk their own stance toward political power?

Perhaps a useful distinction could be made here – though a very gradual one – between political activists and artists who address political issues?

Workshop leader:
Heba Hage-Felder, AFAC, Beirut

Marianne Burki

C3: Spaces of Uncertainty – New Structures for a New World

Saturday, 29.2.2020, 10.00 – 12.00, Room 5.K11

Rethinking is called for because you can no longer rely on what you learned earlier. Climate change also forces us – including artists – into a form of immediate change. But change has to start in the structures, not in their products or outcomes. And who dares to apply new structures without testing them? Cultural institutions? Who else! How much uncertainty can we risk and how much control can we throw off and let go in order to arrive somewhere else than we ever could imagine?
In this workshop new organizational models are discussed through experimental forms of assembly and cooperation, forms for a decision-making that leads into the unknown, one, which in turn can be discussed. Here the main thing will be to agree that we are not in agreement (according to Chantal Mouffe).

Workshop leader:
Martin Schick (performer and cultural manager)

Barbara Ellenberger (artasfoundation)