New practices that affect future of culture up for debate at Fira Mediterrània Business Area

A professional conference, presentations of innovative projects, network meetings, artistic showcases and speed dating comprise the 20th Fira's extensive professional line-up

More than a performing arts and music event, Fira Mediterrània Manresa is also a trade fair and hub of exchange for agents — booking agents, managers and companies — and potential customers of artistic projects. The nerve centre of the trade fair is the Fira Business Area, which has been located in the Technical Museum now for several years. Over three days, this area hosts a wide-ranging programme organised by Fira Mediterrània exclusively for more than one thousand registered professionals who attend the trade fair. Standout events include a professional conference, which is devoted this year to new practices that will affect the future of culture. The professional line-up also features network meetings, such as the fourth Wine&Fest Forum, International Congress of World and Folk Music Festivals. The programme is rounded off with an assortment of cultural project presentations, showcases, speed dates, network meetings and an exhibition area, with more than forty stands.

Professional conference: thought-inspiring seminars

The 20th Fira Mediterrània's professional conference, entitled 'New Practices for the Future of Culture' will take place on Thursday 5th October, on the first day the Fira Business Area opens. Michael Atwood Mason from the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (US) will host the conference's opening talk. His talk will precede a debate on good practices in connection with challenges and opportunities for transforming live arts in the digital age, which will be moderated by Pepe Zapata from Teknecultura, a company devoted to audience development. During the seminar, a range of people will talk about their experiences, including: Lis Costa, from the interdisciplinary artistic platform Kònic Thtr; Mandy Berry and Ciaran Clarke, from the travelling theatre company Miracle Theatre (UK); Jaime Fernández, from the platform for creating cultural activities in privately owned venues Myplayz (Andalusia); and Joseph Valentine, from The New Wolsey Theatre (UK).

Also connected with the future of culture, the conference will host a debate on introducing traditional culture to schools. Victor Baroja, President of the Companyia de Jocs l'Anònima Association and the Catalan Federation of Traditional Games, will moderate the debate. Speakers participating in the event include: Núria Soler from the Agrupació Cultural del Bages, who has designed an extracurricular traditional dance activity; Francesc Fabregat from Cases de la Festa, an organisation that promotes the “Fes teva la cultura popular” (Make Traditional Culture Your Own) programme and the Forum of Education and Traditional Culture; Karlos Aizupurua, who promotes Bertsolarisme at the Bertsozale Elkartea school (Basque Country); and Oriol Folgado, a teacher at La Vixeta school who has led a revival of the Marcos Vicente Dance.

The professional conference programme also features a range of seminars, which include: a seminar on digital marketing, organised in collaboration with the Corporate Development Service (SDE) of the Generalitat (Regional Government) of Catalonia’s Institute of Cultural Companies (ICEC); a book presentation of El carrer és nostre, which provides an overview of the last forty years of street performance arts in Catalonia; a seminar on children's theatre and shows, organised by the TTP (Professional Theatre Association for Family Audiences); and a presentation by the Xàfec Association, a Catalan network of medium scale musical festivals, which will also feature a debate.

Presentation of cultural products and services

Another highlight of the professional programme is informal fifteen-minute presentations of cultural projects and services on Friday 6 October. The project presentations are divided into two categories: first, cultural innovation projects that stand out for opening new horizons, offering new outlooks and creating new connections in the culture industry. Presentations will be given by the following organisations: Inmersión Sonora 360; LaSala; Eventis Web & App & Entrades; Wanagig, Sinestèsia, an international display of video poetry; and LaMent Teatral, devoted to micro-theatre in local areas. Second, presentations of new performing arts projects that stand out for their unique identity and originality. The line-up includes shows that will also be performed in Fira's artistic programme, such as productions by Maika Makovski, Engruna Teatre, Slow Olou and Efímer. Other shows are scheduled to be performed only at the business area, such as productions by Oriol Escursell and the Esbart de Sant Cugat.

Professional gatherings

The Fira Mediterrània Business Area also hosts a range of professional gatherings for national and international organisations and associations, which make the most of Fira's positioning as a leading industry event to host network meetings. Highlights include the fourth Wine&Fest Forum, International Congress of World and Folk Music Festivals, which brings together representatives from some fifty festivals every year. The gathering consist of two debates based on centres of creation and the role of women in the music industry. Gerald Seligman, from the National Recording Preservation Foundation (US) will open the event. In conjunction with the issue of centres of creation, the following people will participate in the debate: Elka Nedeva, from the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts Plovdiv (Bulgaria); Fabien Moutet and Agnès Gerbe from Le Silo (France); Julie Oleksiak from the Royaumont Foundation (France), and Sean Paul O’Hare from the Séamus Ennis Centre (Ireland). The following people will debate the role of women in the music industry today: Alexandra Petropoulos from Songlines Magazine (UK); and manager Andy Inglis (Scotland) and Carmen Zapata from Curtcircuit, ASACC and MIM. The gathering of music festival representatives will take place on the morning of Saturday 7 October.

Other network gatherings scheduled throughout Fira include: a gathering of artistic management teams from the Street Performance Art Platform Association; the 4th Council of the Catalan Civic Centre Theatres Network (XTAC) - restricted access; a Wiki-marathon of traditional culture; and the Caramella Association Assembly.

Meetings with experts

Another activity that Fira organises to promote networking between culture industry professionals is speed dating. It consists of short meetings set up between experts from the performing arts and music industry with artists and agents who want to make direct contact with these experts. Thus, a host of industry professionals will advise artists on how to access ongoing peformance programmes at venues, festivals and initiatives outside Catalonia, and other artistic trade fairs. Last year, 324 speed dates took place at Fira Business Area.

Artistic showcases

Fira Business Area also features a line-up of 30-minute artistic showcases over the three days of Fira, with performances by Tati Cervià; Anna Ferrer; Inxa Impro Quintet; the accordion player Guillem Anguera; the female ensemble of habaneres singers, Les Anxovetes; and the Rumba musicians Muchacho y los Sobrinos. Fira Business Area is also set to host the exhibition Cultura viva: Fargaires de Tradicions, a display based on myths, stories, legends, carnival, folkloric festival creatures and traditional sports from the Occitan and Catalan cultures, as part of the Focus Occitània programme.