IETM Meeting in Bergamo, Italy, April 23-26, 2015

11 May

This blog post is by Andrea Snyder, American Dance Abroad’s Co-Director.

Over the past few years, American Dance Abroad has been encouraged by international colleagues to join IETM. Formerly the Informal European Theatre Meeting, it kept the moniker but changed its title to the International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts, and it moves its periodic gatherings to various cities throughout Europe and occasionally beyond. We recently joined as a member in 2015, and Carolelinda and I attended the IETM meeting in Bergamo, Italy, in April. Our goal is to use the network to build relationships for American dance artists and companies.

Approximately 80% of the 600 attendees were East and West European. Canada and Australia had representation. Only six attended from the U.S. Only one person was registered from Asia, and no one from Africa or South America was listed. It is still clearly a European network, but a truly broad-based network with a dedicated group of members. As “first-timers,” we were struck by the tightness and cohesion of the members; much like many Americans feel about Arts Presenters, Dance/USA, and the various regional cohorts. It was so very interesting to get a glimpse into the issues and priorities of our European colleages.

Speed dating for new attendees, held outside under an installation

The emphasis is definitely on networking and getting to know each other in a relatively informal setting. According to colleagues, the organization is undergoing a shift from the recognized presenting venues to a mixture of artists, independent producers, presenters, and networked organizations. There is definitely a great range of age and experience among the participants. We were thrilled to find that many in attendance were new to us, but we were also relieved to find a few familiar colleagues in the crowd.

The content included pitch sessions (no visuals), information and training sessions (several devoted to fundraising and financial stability for Europeans in the new environment, several focused on audience development, and a few more politically oriented), and evening performances. Everything was spread throughout the “upper city” of Bergamo, a charming, cobblestoned, and old hilltop.

Two of the buildings where main events for IETM were held – at a former monastery, now museum.


We think IETM could be a good networking environment for individual artists, especially those whose work crosses boundaries to theatre, physical theatre, and performance art. One would also need to be very comfortable introducing oneself and striking up conversations with strangers. While the emphasis is not on building co-productions, much of the dialogue is, indeed, about one’s work. It’s just a subtle environment.

Networking between sessions at the IETM meeting.

Networking between sessions at the IETM meeting.


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