CICA-ICAC - Communauté internationale des commissaires des arts de la scène - International community of performing arts curators


Envisioning the Practice: International symposium on performing arts curation

Over the last 20 years, numerous gatherings, organizations, publications and graduate university programs have been devoted to developing discourse around the profession of visual arts curation. During this period, the concept of “performing arts curation” – a métier variously known as presention, programmation, artistic direction, production, cultural agency and more -- has been little discussed among practitioners. However, at least in North America, the notion of artistic direction has played an increasing role in the work of presenters. In the last few years, discourse about this practice has been gaining ground by way of formal and informal conversations. The first Forum on performing arts presenting in 2007 and organized in Québec by the Réseau independent des diffuseurs d’événements artistiques (RIDEAU) included this subject in a meeting of creators, producers and presenters. In 2010, a collection of texts entitled “Curating Performing Arts” was produced by Frakcija Performing Arts Journal No. 55 in Croatia. The Yale Journal Theatre, Summer 2014 issue “Performance Curating” will feature articles by co-editors: Bertie Ferdman, Norman Frisch, Tom Sellar, among others.

Two exploratory meetings of artists and arts curators were organized in North America and Europe: “The Culture of Curation” in Toronto, (Canada) in 2010 by the Canadian Association of Performing Arts Presenters (CAPACOA), and “Beyond Curating: Strategies of knowledge transfer in dance, performance and visual arts” was held in Essen (Germany) in 2011 with support from Tanzplan Essen.

As well as these conferences, dialogues and publication, an increasing number of international performing arts marketplace events have recently fostered discussions on various aspects of performing arts curation. Additionally, a premier graduate program, the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP), was inaugurated at Wesleyan University (U.S.A) in 2011.

In summer 2012, ACAQ was established in Montreal, Québec to stimulate fresh thinking about best practices that further inspire theoretical grounding and contemporary curatorial practices.

In January 2014 a first Canadian course on Performing Arts Curation was offered via the Masters program in Museum Studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). With about 17 graduate students from the fields of dance, theater, visual arts, art history and museum studies, the course aims to provide a mix of theory with practical applications.

As a further contribution to the field, the presentations at this symposium will offer rich material for a book series ACAQ plans to publish, in both French and English.

Building on these events, “Envisioning the Practice” will foster a community of discourse creating further parameters and grounds for the practice, building a body of literature, and the establishment of university courses and programmes for the profession. This symposium endeavors to bring together recent discussions on curation in all performance disciplines (dance/movement, music/sound, theatre/text-based, interdisciplinary, media arts and emergent practices) in order to enrich, structure and theorize possibilities of curating in these fields, with an interest in “best practices”.