Last year, Project Arts Centre announced that they would be hosting the IETM Spring meeting. At that time, I knew next to nothing about IETM. I’ve had a bit of a crash course since then in preparation for the Dublin meeting which takes place from April 11 – 14.
IETM stands for Informal European Theatre Meeting. The group has changed it’s name to the more inclusive International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts but the original name gives you a better sense of what the whole thing is all about. Like the fact that it’s all about meeting people. IETM is not a conference. It’s a meeting. The aim of the three-day event is for delegates to meet people in the performing arts, in the hope that they will be like-minded individuals that they can form useful and long-lasting relationships with.
A couple of the events in the Dublin programme illustrate this point – on Saturday morning, Day 3 of the Conference there are two early morning events – Run! and Jump!, where attendees are invited to go for a run through Phoneix Park or a swim at Seapoint. This has nothing to do with theatre or the performing arts, but it is a good way to get to know people and a good first step to cultivating a relationship!
Making links with Europe can only be a good thing for the arts in Ireland. Our little island nation can be a bit too inward looking sometimes, or only influenced by British and American culture – people who literally speak our language. I think it’s a good thing to have outside influences coming in to add something new to the mix.
The theme of the Dublin meeting is “Trust” and all the sessions relate to that theme. Some of the ones that I really like the look of are; Are The Performing Arts Driving Us Mad? which is about the mental health of those working in the arts and the role that the arts can play in improving mental health; The Big Debate: How to trust and be trusted which takes place in different venues over the three days of the meeting; another practical one – Trust Circus To Take You Into The Unknown which involves trust games and circus skills and the opening night Reception with the wonderful Pop Ceili. These are all delegate only sessions which means you have to sign up and pay the registration fee to attend. Registration fees start at €75 but you don’t have to be a member of IETM to register for the meeting. This is the Early Bird offer which ends on March 28th. After that the fees double to €150 so if you are planning to attend, register soon! It can be a difficult, time-consuming process so don’t try and do it in a hurry!
And if, like me you can’t afford the registration fee, there’s still the Artistic Programme, which is open to both delegates and non-delegates. There are five performances – Pan Pan’s All That Fall, Brokentalkers Have I No Mouth, a gig curated by Dylan Tigue called Let the music do the talking and two dance pieces – John Scott Dance’s Body Duets and Fast Portraits by Liz Roche Company. There’s also live art happening in the Cube each evening, which is free and open to non-delegates. Tickets for the other pieces are €10 and available from Project. (Delegate tickets are €6 and available in person only, from April 11th.) Most of these performances are happening in Project Arts Centre, which is the Meeting Place and Hub for IETM which means you get a change to get a sense of the IETM atmosphere and maybe do a little mingling and networking without registering for the full meeting.
You can also get involved as a volunteer, if you have the time to spare. Volunteers are asked for at least 3 days commitment (8 hours a day) between 8th and 14th of April. There are more details here and applications close on Friday, March 22.
I think if you can afford to attend, this is a wonderful opportunity to meet other art practitioners from around Europe and hear what their work practices are like. It’s unlikely that a meeting will be held in Dublin again so this is the year to do it! Who knows who you might meet or what connections you could establish. And for those without tickets, I think it’s worth paying a visit to Project during those three days and seeing the whole thing in action. Again, who knows who you might bump into!