From Lyon to Rijeka, by minibus

*Last October, the [IETM]( network organised its plenary meeting in Rijeka. I received a travel grant to travel to the Croatian city by minibus. Here is my report about this friendly but very professional trip.* The Rijeka meeting started before the meeting. With the support of a travel grant we managed to share a minibus from Lyon all the way to Rijeka. We are : Cécile from [Clermont 2028](, Stephan from [le Lab]( in Dijon, Juli and Philippe from theatre group [Scènes](, Sergio from [BuroKultur]( and I, Nicolas. Twelve hours to share the road, our views on culture and the performing art. This travel (back and forth) was an opportunity to enter in friendly but professional relations : we are the minibus people. – [Na Sušaku](,14.471864) – [place Tolozan](,4.837752500000001) We arrived during the Welcome reception : the atmosphere was very cool and welcoming, it is with a warm pleasure we all were finding old friends. Except Stephan who, as a future IETM member, we introduced to the family. On the first day, I woke up late. Just time to say hello at the central venue then walk to the [Balkan Express ]( discussion. This long term initiative has been a reference to me for many many years. Less active for several years, some youngsters of my age are trying now to re-activate the network. People at the table described an exhausting circle of no change for the performing arts scene in the region in the last ten years. Trying to break with this feeling, [Rarita Zbranca]( proposes another perspective: actors of the performing arts field could work in partnership with cities\\\’ networks. It would need for each actor to put in place strategies with its mayor and support city-to-city connections. The Newsround was particularly dealing with artistic proposals. It is a particularly challenging exercise but often inspiring to me. I remember two projects in relation with disability, an issue I am particularly concerned with since the [IETM meeting in Milano]( I then I realized how innovant this specific artistic domain is : new abilities. The afternoon and evening were an opportunity to discuss with several colleagues and share about my recent consultant activities. Then at night we went to see « Impossible dances » from BADco. I remember their performance in Zagreb, for a previous IETM meeting. I appreciated a lot the organisation of the space in this beautiful old ballroom and quality of the dancers. But as for their previous performance, I stayed at the door missing the key concept. I did not tell yet about the very nice meeting point : a good bar and space to discuss outside. Far enough to spend pleasant evenings. – ![](×768.jpg) – ![](×768.jpg) On the next day, I started with the Talk of the Day : « Cultural polis and the counting spirit of the non-audience ». The performative and poetic lecture by [Goran Tomka]( was a very sensitive discourse about the haunting presence of the non-public in cultural policies. A bit like the Balkan Express Network workshop, there seems to be something irremediable in the situation Goran stated. Is it time to bust our ghosts ? The « Digital community – opportunities and challenges » workshop was not what I expected. More than dealing with Digital communities in the audience development sense, I found in [Vuk Cosic](\\\’s talk elements of conceptual weapons we (the performing arts people) need to build a new narrative in line with societal challenges and for policy makers to hear us. Later in the afternoon, the « Evaluation challenge » was raising awareness about this necessary aspect of our projects\\\’ management. But I would have expected more, maybe a more critical approach, maybe more means to « take control ». Then the « Talks and listens » ritual. It is for me difficult to imagine how we see the IETM network in the future, considering the performing arts field is changing so quickly nowadays. The challenge is not to delegate our capacity of action to the network, but rather build its/our strength inter-acting one with the other, in other words to take part in building our future. For the last night in Rijeka, I had the opportunity to attend to the performance « Down, by law ». This production by the National theatre started from a very moving text and solo interpretation (for the first time in english!) about the fear of new parents and the importance of a strong society to help its members overpass difficulties. I did not tell in this report about the welcoming experience of the city of Rijeka, the late summer feeling, the quality of food and the many discussions with friends that are an important asset to me. We left Rijeka on Sunday morning, at 7 for a twelve hours debrief on the road. We – the minibus people – shared a feeling of very positive fulfillment, both by the networking opportunities and by the quality of the workshops and lectures.