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The Japanese Presenters’ Perspective
by Renata Petroni, Director of International Program
People across cultures share many similar feelings, emotions and life circumstances, but it’s the way they express these feelings and emotions and react to life circumstances or relate to each other that sets them apart. As we engage in international exchanges, we must learn to recognize and respect these differences, which are not limited to language, food, or dress code, but extend to etiquette, personal space, body language, humor, and values. How can we improve communication with our international partners when globalization and the speed of information give us the illusion of knowing more about other cultures than we actually do? What’s more, generalizations, hearsay, stereotypes, expectations, projections of one’s culture onto another add to the confusion. NPN’s approach is that there is nothing more exciting and effective than personal experience.
To promote this first hand knowledge, NPN supports ongoing explorations by U.S. and international presenters’ through visits to one another’s countries. Over the last 10 years, through the Performing Americas Program, a partnership with La Red de Promotores Culturales de Latinoamerica y el Caribe, NPN has supported travels in the western hemisphere by 65 NPN Partners and La Red members. NPN is now developing a new program in Asia with two new partners: the Korea Arts Management Services (KAMS) and the Japan Contemporary Dance Network (JCDN).
Representatives of NPN’s three international partners attended the 2011 Annual Meeting in Tampa, making it the largest international presence to date. Of the three La Red members, five KAMS presenters and staff, and four JCDN presenters only two spoke fluent English. Despite the language barrier, the international guests were embraced by the NPN community, participated in all the activities, and were thrilled to make connections with many U.S. presenters and with each other. An outcome of these encounters is an exchange project between Japan and Korea scheduled for 2013.
Here is what our Japanese guests wrote about the NPN, the meeting and the cultural differences they experienced:
Participating in the meeting, I was reminded of the importance of a “place” in which people from different fields, positions and affiliations can come together as equals and talk to each other face-to-face. Currently, there is no such established system (of network) as NPN in Japan and thus, individuals in the field make their own efforts separately. T-PAM (Tokyo Performing Arts Meeting) is centered in Tokyo and its vicinity and does not necessarily connect professionals from other regions. JCDN is perhaps the only organization that connects different regions of Japan through dance performances. Learning about NPN’s structure was stimulating, and inspired me and my colleagues from Sapporo and Fukuoka to think about the possibility of creating a network in Japan and to think objectively about the cultural landscape of our country. More than anything, I felt a great joy to meet with NPN members face-to-face and am looking forward to building a network together.
—Reiko Hagihara, Program Director, Kyoto Arts Center
Although there are many “networks” in our field, many have become obsolete. In contrast, I witnessed that NPN works very well as a network, providing opportunities to meet colleagues face to face, to share values and ideas. It helped me think about how we could form a network in Japan. I also found it very significant that we were able to communicate with people from different countries, not only from the U.S. In particular, it was great to spend time and converse with colleagues from Korea about strengthening the network in Asia.
I thought that the self-introduction session at the beginning of the annual meeting was particularly wonderful and effective. It enabled immediate communication regardless of one’s position or affiliation. (No conference in Japan starts with such a casual style like that!) I came to the meeting feeling quite nervous and pressured due to the cultural difference and language barrier. However, since everyone was very open-minded and kind to me, I was able to overcome such feelings. I appreciated “the Buddies” program and want to express my sincere gratitude to all of you who supported my participation.
—Kyoko Yokohama, Program and Planning Coordinator, Fukuoka City Foundation for Arts and Cultural Promotion
What I found wonderful about the meeting:
What impressed me:
During the five days I was thinking that the U.S. is a young country, forever-young.
Chizu Saito, President, Concarino
Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Performing Americas Program (PAP) is the only systemic international cultural exchange program in existence in the United States that is based on reciprocity and knowledge building. With its focus on exchanges between the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, the program has successfully toured 34 artist/companies and funded an additional 30 Creative Exchange residencies throughout the hemisphere.
PAP has made possible the presentation of Latin American and Caribbean work by more than 50 U.S.-based presenting organizations, and presentation of 17 U.S. artist companies in 47 different cities across Latin American and the Caribbean by presenters who may have otherwise not been able to support these artists’ work.
Designing, funding and coordinating an international exchange program has been a formidable task—especially in the less than visionary national climate of international diplomacy that has prevailed since the program began in 2001. Almost in spite of this, however, this project has flourished, showing that the need and demand for international cultural exchange is as strong and possibly more important than ever. Presenters and artists from all parts of the hemisphere have responded that more programs like this need to exist, grow and be supported.
After their 2010 Creative Exchange residency in Guatemala with Grupo de Teatro Artzenico, Goat in the Road Productions of New Orleans reported, “The opportunity to conduct a Creative Exchange residency through PAP was a dream come true. We are rarely paid a living wage for our work as artists in the United States! To receive a salary to make and share work with an exciting group in Latin America for three weeks was an utter gift to us – as artists, as teachers, as citizens of the world. Thank you.” In the summer of 2011, Goat in the Road reciprocated by hosting Artzenico in New Orleans where they continued the work they had begun a year before.
Reciprocity, peer exchange and knowledge building are core values of all of NPN’s international exchange initiatives, and working with partner networks abroad has amplified the possibility for facilitating the growth of true exchanges among artists, communities, and presenter-curators. The host organizations in both the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean open the doors to their spaces to offer artists a new, respectful and dynamic environment to create, present and engage in contemporary performance practice. Selected curators from across the continent also travel to meet hosts, artists and see live work abroad, key to the success of program.
NPN’s coordination of the tours and Creative Exchange residencies has increased the capacity of NPN Partner organizations and other U.S.-based presenters to present international work, by providing funds and facilitating the often-daunting prospect of obtaining visas for foreign artists. We’ve also increased the visibility of U.S. artists abroad by funding and coordinating their travel to festivals and presenters as far away as Buenos Aires, Uruguay, Brazil and Santiago, and as close as Puerto Rico and Mexico City.
“Performing Americas has boosted touring, U.S. visibility and creative partnerships at a time when the U.S. suffered dismal public relations abroad as a consequence of the second Iraq war.” (Randy Gener, American Theater Magazine, September 2010)
The artists who travel within the program share their artistic and cultural languages, creating lasting and meaningful relationships that not only expand their own cultural horizons, as well as those of the host and audience, but also dispel destructive myths and stereotypes by conducting honest human exchanges that do the work international diplomatic relations fails to do.
Looking forward to its second decade of work abroad, NPN has broadened the scope of its international exchanges by adding new partnerships with the Korea Arts Management Services (KAMS) and the Japan Contemporary Dance Network (JCDN), and by leveraging its experience to identify new possibilities across the globe that will provide more opportunities for artists and presenters within NPN and beyond.
Since 2001, the Performing Americas Program has been a partnership with La RED (Red de Promotores Culturales de Latinoamérica y el Caribe) for a hemispheric exchange program which subsidizes reciprocal tours using the NPN Performance Residency model. Funding for Performing Americas is provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and, for Los Angeles artists and arts organizations, the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs.
For a complete list of activities, participating artists and hosts, and recently posted guidelines for our upcoming round of Creative Exchange, please visit the Performing Americas Program section of this website.
To find our more about our partner network, La RED, visit www.redlatinoamericana.com
255 Annual Meeting-goers enjoyed Tampa’s balmy breezes and 70-degree temperatures, and fell in love with the host city for NPN’s 27th Annual Meeting (December 8-12, 2011). With artists, presenters and field colleagues in attendance, NPN continued to receive praise as a unique and nurturing environment for networking:
“The respectful co-existence of artists and producers/presenters was a revelation. The shared sense of vision and purpose was inspiring.”
“In general, the emphasis placed on relationship building always sets a different tone, and sets this meeting apart from other field gatherings.”
“Artists are integrated into the meeting is a thoughtful way. Very few field gatherings do as well.”
For the three-and-a-half day conference, NPN Partner Straz Center for the Performing Arts opened its halls for plenary sessions and breakouts. It was difficult to choose which of the fourteen Idea Forums to attend — topics ranged from disaster-preparedness to social networking to hip-hop theater to queer art practitioners. The Straz also presented exciting performance showcases that featured NPN Creation Fund artists who received subsidies to commission new work, as well as Tampa-based performers. For the second year, #NewPlay TV! livestreamed the two evenings of performances. You can watch the archived footage by following these links:
In an effort to think outside the box, be environmentally-friendly and cut down on printing costs, this year’s meeting relied more on online publications. Q-R codes (two-dimensional barcodes) read by many cell phones were used to help attendees retrieve materials and navigational aids as they made their way through the meeting.
Springboard for the Arts presented two filled-to-capacity professional development workshops that addressed key issues that artists face in their careers. The St. Paul nonprofit is an economic and community development organization for artists and by artists.
NPN Partner Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas in Seattle seeks a creative and strategic thinker with the ability to manage and shape a vital and unique mid-size organization. The new Executive Director will inspire and work with the board, staff, community leaders, and greater public to expand their support for the organization’s future and historical role in the community, as well as oversee/administer multiple aspects of the organization including the artistic program, daily management, strategic development and planning.
Click here to see the complete job description
Interested candidates should submit a resume, cover letter, and three references by end of business on Monday, January 16th, 2012.
The Visual Artists Network (VAN) is pleased to announce three visual arts installations at this year’s Annual Meeting in Tampa. Presented inside Portable On-Demand Storage (PODS) units, the VAN POD Installations will be located at the Jaeb Plaza of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, site of the 2011 NPN/VAN Annual Meeting. PODS Enterprises, Inc. of Pinellas Park, FL has generously donated the use of three PODS for this exciting visual arts exhibition.
All artists who have participated in the VAN program in the past three years were invited to submit proposal to create a POD Installation, as were visual artists from Tampa. There were no conceptual or thematic parameters. Artists were encouraged to propose a project that would best present their work. A selection panel of NPN/VAN staff and VAN Partners chose the following three proposals from many worthy applications. Participating artists will be engaged under a VAN Exhibition Residency contract and will serve a week-long residency at the Annual Meeting.
The VAN POD Installation Opening Reception will be held 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Thursday December 6, 2011 on the Jaeb Plaza of the Straz Center, Tampa, FL.
Housing is a Human Right
Michael Premo and Rachel Falcone, Brooklyn, NY
Housing is a Human Right is an ongoing multi-platform documentary project that creates a space for people to share stories of their community and ongoing experiences of trying to obtain or maintain a place to call home. The project is not just one story, but many; it is a growing collection of powerful first-person stories exploring the complex fabric of community and home, painting a living portrait of human rights. Stories are recorded in the tradition of oral history and shared as audio stories, photographs and multimedia across multiple platforms, including interactive exhibitions in unconventional spaces & broadcasts via traditional and new media outlets.
11 x 17 inches
Photo Credit: Michael Premo
Repository: A Taxonomy of Remains
Margie Livingston, Seattle, WA
Livingston’s installation will consist of two tables lighted from above and holding specimen trays of her own design and construction. The specimens arrayed in the trays will be individual fragments left over from the creation of a larger, established body of work: my Paint Objects, acrylic works straddling the boundary between painting and sculpture, which she has been making for several years. The installation’s title and the “remains” to be presented, along with the manner of their presentation, allude to the material and conventions associated with museums of natural history.
1 5/8 x 3 1/2 x 97 5/8 inches
Photo: Richard Nicol
Safety in Numbers
Jono Vaughan, Tampa, FL
Inspired by Vaughan’s drawings that chronologically document the changes and alterations made to his/her hair since 2005, Safety In Numbers is a performance-based work that invites Annual Meeting participants and members of the community to assume the identity of the artist through physical transformations, such as hair cutting and make up application. For the project, Vaughan will be transforming the POD into a hair salon where each day stylists will be cutting volunteers’ hair into the same style as the artist and will be applying make-up in styles created by the artist. Like the artist’s drawings that never feature the front of his/her face, Safety in Numbers explores the power of anonymity through the creation of as many clones of the artist as possible.
The Back of My Head, 4/5/10, 2010
Colored pencil on paper
30 x 15 inches
VAN installations at the Annual Meeting in Tampa are made possible with assistance from