Changing the world with theatre? Doing nothing, because we cannot do everything, is the biggest mistake! Making a positive impact through research-informed arts – at least something!
For four years, 15 European arts and research partners from 13 European countries developed contemporary theatre to create aesthetic, political and social impact such as social innovation, micropolitical change, new public arenas, aesthetic breakthroughs and emancipation.
The partnership and project Create to Impact was built on the legacy of a five-year project Create to Connect that developed mainly various audience building tactics and strategies. We moved from audience building to impacting different communities, from only connecting and engaging to consciously creating impact informed by anthropological and ethnographic research. We developed relationships not based on power structures but on collaboration and solidarity. All actions were designed in dialogue between curators, artists and researchers.
Research to Impact was the underlying layer where with the support of researchers we focused on cases ranging from specific art cases to research of organizations. Anthropological studies of the impact our activities are producing served as a basis to inform curators and artists on how to reach the desired impact or gave them feed-back on what the impact actually was. The long-term impact of collaboration with the researchers is that curators and artists have a better understanding of social impact of the arts for the future and the researchers have art as a tool of change better researched and also present in their vocabulary in “tool-box”.
Space to Connect was planned to transform venues, spaces that theatre inhabits with contemporary theatre to produce impact, through small-scale interventions to transformative processes. This line of activities was very successful and it also moved from only physical spaces to imagined spaces, especially due to corona pandemic that also made us more aware of the fact that the theatre, its practices and reach go far beyond our venues.
Working Encounters were two gatherings with an experimental format; a space where we established common conceptual ground on communities and developed tools for other activities. It was also a place for artists (and partners, general public, researchers) to meet and work together – first time on-line and the second time in Innsbruck.
Adapt to Connect was a format where existing theatre pieces were adapted to better impact the local context in dialogue with research. The adaptation part varied from mere changes to better fit the local context to overall remakes of pieces being completely changed with or for local communities. Adaptations turned out to be a very effective way of connecting with communities – either with using tools to impact them more directly or inviting the communities into productions – inviting them to co-create, to adapt!
Create to Connect were (co)productions of new theatre works, created to impact in dialogue with research. These productions were done in tight collaboration with the artists who were initially interested in creating or co-creating with communities or for specific communities. This aspect of the project was the most hit by the corona pandemic but at the same time developed many new ways of working together.
Project was managed horizontally and after four years we continue the collaboration to develop it even further – the next frontier is Create to Permeate and will develop the co-creation processes further, trying to pass power from curatorial teams to new communities.
The project started in September 2018 and ended on 31st August 2022.