Ahead of the Producers' Academy organised by On The Move under the Creative tracks framework we asked producer and cultural manager Paz Begué of Buenos Aires based VERDEVER for her insights.
Cover image: COLORES PRIMARIOS - Black-light puppets for children (Argentina) during the Argentinian Culture Week in China where VERDEVER will be returning November-December 2017
VERDEVER produce and promote international artworks (for kids and adults), cultural projects, and distributes performing shows worldwide.
VERDEVER promotes a wide variety of performing arts. How important is diversity to your work and your audiences?
We would say that the shows we promote, either for children or adults, have in common an aesthetic and conceptual care. Beyond the artistic genre or the story of the play, adults and children appreciate and enjoy a professional and beautiful piece which captivates them.
From your perspective what is the role of creative industries in economic development and social integration?
We think creative industries are valuable in both aspects.
As an industry it generates work with its cultural products. On the other hand the subtle side of the artistic products brings awareness and makes us connect with emotions, thoughts, joy, laughter… which are important for oneself and society.
Our perspective in VERDEVER is to promote both aspects.
FLOTANTE, a Sensory installation for babies
Tell us a bit more about how you started and the services you offer?
We started some years ago when we saw an opportunity, and we decided to take the challenge of making it happen.
We were invited to China with an Argentinean black-light puppets show for children, and we understood then that arts can really bridge cultures.
Since then we offer international performing art shows and workshops to international festivals, NGOs, governments and special events worldwide.
How are your co-productions funded and what kind of partners do you tend to work with?
Up to now, in VERDEVER we are mostly focusing in international distribution.
We work with the cultural government departments, and apply for financial support of travel costs. As an example, we've worked with Pro Helvetia and the Alliance Francaise as partners, making it possible to present a swiss dance show for children in Central America.
We are planning two different co-productions. We are still working in the financial plan and the engagement with the right partners. Some can give us financial support, other can give us a residence, others advices, knowledge and experience, media partners, network and so on...
In pre-production - 12 H co-production involving Argentina, South Korea and Germany
What have you learnt about building a supportive network in the arts sector in Argentina?
In Argentina we are used to make things happen with or without budget. Even without money we work in a ‘self managed’ way (autogestion) to make projects come true.
I think that nowadays the young local artist society have realized that cooperation takes you much further than competition or selfishness. To professionalize the sector we really need to work together, support each other and organize our goals on the same side. What I see is that the new generations of artists are tuned and work together on this direction.
What is the cultural landscape like for emerging creative start-ups? What are the main challenges at the moment?
I would say that in Argentina you can find many entrepreneurial profiles. In particular, there are great artists in performing arts, but mostly organized in groups which come together to make one piece, and then they start something new with new people. There are not many companies working for a long period.
The bigger challenges for a start-up, I would say, is to make it in time and economically sustainable. As a cultural industry it is important to receive the government support, but even more important is to build an engaged audiences and partners who chooses and enjoy our cultural products.
What three tips would you give to any entrepreneur or artist you work with about creating sustainable projects?
'Dream high, but keep your feet on earth'... Check if your idea is needed and other people appreciate it as well. Follow great ideas, not your ego.
Be patient and don't give up. Take the time to make your idea grow, polish it, receive feedback and go further.
Make a living. If it is valuable, make it worth. Find the ones who needs and appreciate what you are doing and offer it to them, work with them and find your audience.
Venir Tan Lejos
From your experience of the work you promote, what are the key ingredients to producing a successful show?
More than ingredients I would say the the most important is: 'Have something to say and work until you have it in your show'.
How innovative are producers being with integrating digital technology into the performing arts?
I think digital technologies are a resource just like others. I've seen shows which uses it in a great way, 'Campo Minado' by Lola Arias comes to my mind. The way the story is built, the deepness of what is said and the way it's said is worth... then the digital technology is a resource which is used in an intelligent way.
But a solo puppeteer with a small table can have all your attention and make you feel the story as well... That is the challenge: to make the audience in. We work with beautiful shows which uses it, but this is not the reason why they are special.
Zick Zack Puff was selected to be part of “Cradle of Creativity” ASSITEJ International Festival and Congress in Cape Town, South Africa May 2017.
Creative Tracks is all about connecting creative changemakers internationally. How can creative networks encourage connectivity and collaboration across borders?
To have a platform as Creative Tracks helps to know each other and visibilize actors. That is great! I think meetings and working tables are very important too.
In VERDEVER we’ve attended mostly to cultural markets, which do not focus on the network nor discuss possible collaborations for longer projects or common industry challenges.
It is important to have the opportunity to meet with international cultural agents face to face, and share challenges and possibilities. It would be great to have time to brainstorm and make ideas grow - not in conferences, but in smaller groups. And perhaps even more important is to continue a process (using all the virtual possibilites) until you meet again.
I think it’s not only the meetings, but the trust, the relationship and the commitment which make collaborations grow.