Opening Speech, David Antunes
ECTHEC – Multiplier event – 24, 25 October, 2019
Dear colleagues, friends, guests, undergraduate and graduate students, EdE members and colleagues, visitors, Erasmus agency, all of you, welcome to Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema.
We are here to accomplish the last formal activity of the Erasmus + project ECTHEC, which is supposed to have a multiplier effect of the concept, contents, outputs of this 2-year project. We count on all of you to achieve this and therefore we thank you in advance for that.
At the same time, tomorrow after lunch, the general assembly of EDE will start. EdE is a network of European theater and art schools that is bigger than the organizations in this project, but it is where all started and it is certainly one of the places where we will continue to work together.
As coordinator of the project ECTHEC and president of ESTC, I wish to both activities good luck and work, but mainly I hope that we manage to create a good place for friendship and for celebrating Europe and the European policy for higher education and mobility. Nothing of this could be possible without those and it seems to me that Europe depends hugely on us to build its path of democracy, cohesion, and self-reliance in its core values and identity. On the other side, I don’t see how we can imagine the constant renewal and questioning of our institutions outside of international actions and the developing of common projects. It was exactly this that made this project possible, firstly inside EdE meetings and workshops – thank you EdE for creating the space and the conditions for that -, and then, during the length of the project, through a series of activities that basically we can divide in two major categories: transnational meetings (5), for assessing the status of the project and planning, and intensive training, learning, and teaching programs for mobility of teachers, researchers, students and administration (4, 3 of five days and 1 of 20 days).
Of course; I think mobility is one important aspect of this European design for higher education and the building of a European sense of citizenship, but it goes beyond that. It is imperative to build an European performing arts school that instead of having a particular program /curricula, in different places, creates a common space for daring wishes and common autonomous and bold projects, a moving school, a moving concept of school (and not only a structure made of different schools that receive moving people).
In this project we tried to research the concept of ‘artistic entrepreneurship’ or ‘arts entrepreneurship’ and the challenges it poses to theatre higher education schools in terms of curricula design and thinking. This is then and mainly a research project and it is a research project not only because it has, since the beginning, a research concept (suggested by Sverre in a meeting in Bruxells), and a research team, more or less fixed, but mainly because, not assuming a definition of artistic entrepreneurship, the participants in this project – researchers, teachers, students and administration – decided to face and challenge this concept and find meaning possibilities that enabled them to proceed in a constant and diverse research process.
Now, I think we can assume that this might be a risky strategy, from a conventional point of view, but at least it has the merit of being felt as a process with which you are intimately related to, it became eventually an important part of your biography, since it is guided mainly by the question ‘Why am I doing this?’ being the most common answers ‘because we need to do it’, ‘because we want to do it’, ‘because we don’t know if it works’, ‘because we create a space of freedom where it is possible to do it’, ‘because it is something that I wouldn’t normally do’. I don’t know exactly what type of research methodology this is, because it is neither auto-etnographic or autobiographic, nor simply practice based, but I know that we genuinely could observe the progressive effects of this autonomous research process in the individuals – they somehow lost their roles and differences and became part of the project’s specific dynamics, they were absorbed by the research process they have started in the first hand. I stress this, because I believe it should be of particular relevance in thinking about research in arts. And I should say that this particular functioning of the research process was especially observable after the enthusiastic and challenging involvement of students. This was obvious in ENSATT-Lyon and in San Miniato and their presence in this last event, that were not expected, is a wonderful surprise. They brought not only youth and joy, which are great, but a kind of urgency to ask ‘why’, not being afraid of saying ‘I can do this’ or ‘I want to do this’, asking therefore for ‘accountability’ but not refusing ‘to be accountable’ as well.
Even though, as I said before, we didn’t adopt a particular meaning for artistic entrepreneurship, it is quite obvious that what we did, especially in the mobility activities of teaching, training and learning, is related to a few major aspects that we can name as topics or questions, if you will:
- How can we understand artistic entrepreneurship as related to political standing and social engagement or to social entrepreneurship?
- How do we rethink our strong art /theatre traditions, with specific routines, roles and structures, working them together in order to face contexts of education that should pay attention to students’ and teachers’ NEEDS?
- Are we able to redefine and think the basic roles of the pedagogical relation in a world where the information is available to everybody and it is virtually unlimited?
- Does it make sense to invest in a very specialized education / training, considering the actual art and professional context?
- Can / should we think about a school considering the dynamics between ‘What I need / what I want?’ and ‘What can I offer/propose?’
- How do we stand for a school of fair and just values?
I will finish my speech with a note about this event. First, thank you, partners and friends, for preparing it, building it (it would be unfair not to make a special mention to Rikke, Charlotte, Laura and Margarida), and thank you for making it work in a few moments (I mean all the rest of us that have the responsibility of sharing with others our thoughts and desires). If you please, do the same with us. Join our community of practice. I hope that we are able to create a friendly space for that.