As part of the UK-Russia Creative Bridge online forum, the Culture and Education Section of the British Embassy inviteed industry professionals to an international co-commissions and co-productions practical course for producers, curators and cultural professionals.
The creation and touring of large-scale original artist-led commissions with multiple co-commissioning and producing international partners is a complex and resource-intensive undertaking. The role of the producer is fundamental to navigating that complexity and realising the artistic vision within possible resources whilst also ensuring that what is created is appropriate for all of the partners involved and accessible for various audiences.
A producer learns by producing. The Manchester International Festival / Institute of Theatre Training got as close to that as possible. The workshop gave participants the tools to scale up their current experience through practical exercises, taught activity and peer learning, based on case studies and led by experienced MIF producers and involving international partners from various countries. It provided participants with a practical understanding of the skills and knowledge required for the role of an international or touring producer.
Five MIF large scale co-commissions became case studies for the course. Each of these productions was made with multiple partners around the world: Tree of Codes, The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, New Order + Liam Gillick: So it goes.., Invisible Cities, Atmospheric Memory. Using these extraordinary events, their complex original production and international presentations as source material, participants were guided through all aspects of international interdisciplinary co-producing, developing learning and skills to directly apply to their own work and country context.
- Teachers: MIF producers Paul Clay, Sally Lai
- Moderating: Anton Fleurov
MIF / Institute of Theatre Training was designed to assure practical learning for a closed group selected based on the open call. Some sessions of the training were open to the general audience:
- Discussion with Kate Fox, MIF Access Manager
- Discussion with Paul Clay (MIF), Roy Luxford (Edinburgh International Festival), Alison Freedman (West Kowloon Cultural District), Alisa Prudnikova (NCCA, Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art)
- Lecture by Mark Bell, Creative Director at Manchester International Festival / The Factory
- Lecture by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer on his project 'Atmospheric Memory'
About the tutors
Paul joined Manchester International Festival in 2012 as Executive Producer where in addition to the companies own productions he looked after the company’s International work, including managing other major works not seen at the Festival including the world tours of ‘Björk Digital’ for the artist Björk and ‘River of Fundament’ for Matthew Barney. In 2018 Paul established the new International team for MIF and now leads on the company’s work around the world.
Paul’s experience in the arts spans nearly thirty years working in executive, producing, and technical positions for companies such as the Almeida Theatre London (where in the 1990 he production managed the company work across three West End theatres and a number of Broadway transfers and International tours); Plymouth Theatre Royal (where he created large scale musicals for the West End), English National Opera and the Royal Exchange Manchester.
Sally Lai's career has been underpinned by a commitment to international collaboration.
She trained as contemporary art curator and has worked in the cultural sector for over 20 years. Previously she was the Director of the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (2008-2014). Other organisations she has worked for include Firstsite, Arts Council of England, London, the Culture Team of London 2012, The Wellcome Collection. She has written for international art journals, presented a feature length programme for BBC Radio 4 and co-edited publications.
She has served on the board of Attenborough Arts Centre, University of Leicester, Atlantic Project, Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, Black Artists and Modernism. Sally was awarded a fellowship on the Clore Leadership Programme in 2005/6 and is an alumnа of the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders - Arts, Stanford University. Sally has facilitated Manchester International Festival’s International Producer Training Programmes in Hong Kong and Moscow.