Training mobility Turin (23th - 25th January 2019)

Connect Twin track programs have been designed internationally and then implemented locally so that each national hub could take into account local context needs. But the international dimension permeated the whole experience and, right in the middle of the capacity building process, 60 practitioners and students from the 5 different countries (IT, ES, PL, UK, DK) involved in the project joined the first International Connecting Audience Winter School in Turin.

The event was hosted by Fitzcarraldo Foundation with the goal to strengthen the international dimension of the project, facilitating the networking among the participants and sharing the experiences of TTPs in the different countries. The arrival of the international participants was welcomed with the first snow of the season and after a hot coffee we were ready to start with an icebreaking creative exercise: the participants from the 5 national hubs were asked to draw what their TTP experience looked like.

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Pictures 1: The drawing representing the TTPs in Italy, Spain and UK.

Since only a selection of participants from the overall program could attend the Turin event, we didn’t want it to become an extra training module, but a real opportunity to share different perspective and audience related strategies among the participants. For this reason, we decided to turn the whole Winter School in a two days co-design workshop, where the participants were asked to co-design a 1-hour session in which they had to facilitate their colleagues through and exercise dealing with a specific AD challenge.

Therefore, the participants were split into 4 international groups and were asked to choose one relevant issue they wanted to tackle among these suggestions:

  • How to bring diversity (without giving preferences to the closest to us)?
  • What’s the reality of becoming an agent of change within your organisation?
  • How to balance AD, artistic quality and sustainability?
  • How to creatively listen to our audiences and make these data useful?
  • How to overcome the barriers to becoming more relevant to your audiences? And what could make it happen?
  • My colleagues do not seem interested. How to engage them?
  • How to attract new audiences without losing your current audiences?
  • What could be the legacy for the community and individuals involved in engagement processes?
  • How far are we actually willing to go in order to get (that) audience?
  • How do we develop loyalty?
  • How to place an «audience centric approach» into each step of our job?

Each group chose a topic and then spent the afternoon discussing it from different perspectives and coming up with exercised to be addressed to the rest of the participants.

It was a pretty intense day and at the end everybody was happy to join an aperitivo in one of the most beautiful squares of Turin. Having a drink together and meeting new people was a great way to close our first day! Some of the participants even decided to explore the town, despite the snow.. See what happened:

The second day of Winter School was mainly dedicated to experience the sessions designed by the participants. The four groups came up with exciting and brilliant sessions that were really inspiring for everybody, partners included! Each session lasted one hour and each group had the responsibility to facilitate, explain the participants what they were expected to do and -most difficult- to keep the timing!

Session One: How to balance AD, artistic quality and sustainability?

The first session gave us the chance to immerse ourselves in different perspectives: it was a role play! The participants were split into groups of 4 people and each one had to play one of the following roles: artistic director, responsible of financial office, responsible for audience development, director. It was not easy as it sounds and everyone started to negotiate their role’s opinion: it was really helpful to put ourselves in other people shoes, even the ones of colleagues we usually don’t agree with.

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Picture 2: Participants acting the role play in session 1.

Session Two: How to creatively listen to our audiences and make these data useful?

The second group proposed an exercise aimed at assessing our listening skills and try out new creative methods. We were asked to focus on three different approaches: emotional listening, physical listening and creative listening. Participants were asked to work in pairs and they had to share their stories but especially listen to their partners, activating all of their senses!

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Picture 3: Participants exercising their listening skills in session 2.

Session Three: How to place an ‘audience centric approach’ into each step of our job?

Group three launched a creative challenge to all of us: we were asked to create a “Audience Chair Gallery”. Participants were again split into smaller groups and each group was responsible for creating an art installation using the chairs of the meeting room. Each installation, completed by a caption, had to represent one of the steps of an audience development approach, as explained in the picture below. No need to say people came up with really crazy ideas!

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Picture 4: group facilitators explain the creative exercise of session 3.

Session Four: How to overcome the barriers to becoming more relevant to your audiences? And what could make it happen?

The last session designed by the participants focused on barriers that sometimes block the audience to take active part in the cultural life of their towns. The exercise was organised of two phases: first the participants had to identify potential audience barrier and choose cultural institutions from different sectors. Then each group had to pick one barrier and one institution and try to set up a new strategy to overcome the barrier in that specific context.

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Picture 5: participants discussion in session 3.

At end of the day, after all these creative exercises we had plenty of new ideas and we had the possibility to share them with local professionals from Turin and Piedmont who joined the last session of the second day. This open session was meant to further enhance networking opportunities for the participant and to disseminate the Connect experience among a large set of Italian cultural professionals. After a welcome speech by Macarena Cuenca, project leader, and Sandra Aloia from Compagnia di San Paolo, the participants had the opportunity to engage in a world café discussing these two burning questions:

  • What does it take for a cultural shift in our attitude towards audiences?
  • Which competences are required to work effectively with audiences?

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Pictures 6: World Café in the Public Event. 

For the last day of the Winter School, we focused on evaluation both of the event itself, allowing the participants to share and reflect upon the sessions and their learnings, and the of the TTPs experience. In particular the participants could discuss their experience in the TTP sharing it with international colleagues, using a card game with these suggested questions:

  • Coming back to the expectations you had before the TTP began, do you think they have been matched? Tell me your story, how did you get there, and how do you feel now about it
  • What are you going to bring back from the Winter School to your TTP classmates?
  • How do you think you’re going to use what you have learnt so far, once you’re back to your workplace or future professional development?
  • Tell us one good reason why this program should continue (or not) in the future

After this, closing time was approaching fast and we concluded the Winter School sitting all in a big circle and sharing last comments and reflections and celebrating together the enriching experience that we had just lived. Of course, getting ready for the next Winter School in Bilbao!

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Pictures 7: Final greetings and celebration.

Here’ some final thoughts from the participants:

The Turin International Winter School was supported by Compagnia di San Paolo.

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