Laurence is a Project Manager in international cooperation focusing on culture, education and capacity building cultural entrepreneur.
- , we have known you through the Roberto Cimetta Fund, could you tell us what are your relation with the organization, partner of Creative Tracks?
The Roberto Cimetta Fund (RCF) has supported my first travel to Cairo in 2002. It means a lot to me because it was the starting point of my cooperation with artists and cultural entrepreneurs in Egypt, which continues today. Together with key cultural managers and artists of Mediterranean countries, we then began an exciting journey about contemporary dance. Among those actors, Danse Bassin Méditerranée (DBM) and RCF played a crucial role in the structuring of the field and networks by facilitating exchanges and mobility for all of us. As a Mediterranean woman it has helped me to reconnect with my multiple identities and to acknowledge my nomadic (or migrant) background and second, it has opened my eyes about the Euro-Mediterranean dimension, issue and challenges. I owe to these actors and passionate people, a part of what I am today. And because I acknowledge this as an added value for my life and professional path, I am always taking care to recommend young artists of the South who are seeking for mobility support. Over the years, I have observed how the mission of the RCF evolved beyond a South/North relationship towards a fruitful dialogue between artists as interconnected citizens who are willing to shape their future with a global perspective. RFC is sharing solid friendships with a wide network of actors truly engaged for Culture. I have the chance to share here a structuring dialogue that is nourishing my path.
- You work in France and Egypt, as a cultural manager. Could you tell us more about your current work?
I am going back and forth between two shores because I can’t belong to one place only. Egypt represents my second period of life since I choose to promote artists and creativity regarding artistic languages, especially in contemporary dance. In Cairo, I can perceive the world’ s pulse. It is bringing me to a better understanding of the challenges faced by artists and cultural sectors at the world scale. I choose to learn and develop my skills as a European cultural manager from this transversal perspective and it became a point of reference. This is leading me to a diversity of opportunities where I can either deal with art or with cultural issues. My recent Master degree from Sciences Po - Paris is enabling me to better perceive what “development” means and it has improved my abilities to link Culture and Development. Am attracted by economic dimensions and the necessary change of paradigm towards sustainable development. How can the cultural field address that issue? Which kind of business model can serve the issue? What does it imply for cultural and creative enterprises?
Recently, I have provided an Egyptian cultural organisation, with a study aiming at supporting the mutation of its business model towards a better adaptation to the changing economic context. In November 2017, in Cairo, I will be mentoring young choreographers within the framework of a Lab and Festival for young artists untitled “2 B continued”, organized by the Studio Emad Eddin Foundation.
2 Be Continued Lab and Festival 2015 funded by the Studio Emad Eddin Foundation - choreographer Sherin Hegazy
- How is the landscape of creative and cultural industry in Egypt?
It always has been a dynamic sector, with a real cultural diversity. From the national to the independent cultural field there is a constant cultural offer in addition to a diversity of cultural exchanges and cooperation. There are highly skilled professionals of the independent field. For example, the recent Creative Summit Ramadan Edition related to the TV series market was highlighting how important is the holy month for the resources of the creative sector. Similarly, the cinema industry is still very productive despite the economic crises. Actually, since November 2016, monetary crises and increasing inflation is affecting all sectors of the society. Even the middle class has lost its purchasing power. Moreover, the creative economy is also suffering from the lack of tourism, which contribution to GDP used to reach 13%. Fostering exportation of handicraft, work of interior designers or fashion designers was recently stimulated in order to boost employment within the creative sector. Nevertheless, critical times are revealing how people can be creative. For the time being, the main issue is how to guarantee the conditions of their living. Apparently, there is a window of opportunity with the rise of the technological innovation sector. Indeed, Egyptian start-ups are blooming thanks to a good Internet penetration, the work of efficient incubators of start-ups, the presence of investors ready to take risks and the desire of the youth to access to employment through entrepreneurship. For the performing art sector, which is depending mainly on grants, the context is more complex. Firstly, the Ministry of Culture cannot subsidize independent troupes and laws are very strict concerning access to foreign funds and, second, the budget of foreign institutions for culture is generally drastically reduced. As a result, the performing art sector development is becoming less dynamic and artists are trying to find alternatives in order to simply survive. Some are looking for a new business models as a solution to produce art.
SEEDS at El Warsha, a contemporary dance action to Egypt funded by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in partnership with British Council, Egypt and co funded by the European Union
- You have 10 years of experience in the cultural sector. What are the most important things you’ve learnt in starting your activity and in building a supportive network for your region?
Before being involved in the region, I had an artistic career as interpreter of one founder of the French contemporary dance movement of the 80’s. I was dancer at 20 years old. Somehow this field is my true land that I am experiencing at the world scale. At that time, we were inventing singular languages and for doing so we had to be emancipated from old models. When I arrived in Egypt, I learned a lot from prominent artists concerning the relationship to dominant models. There I could share a debate concerning “the permanent decolonisation of the thought” in areas such as culture and humanities. The topic is still sensitive. These major encounters had a significant impact on my choices when it came to implementing capacity building programmes for young Egyptian artists. With my dance background in mind, I took care of bringing tools and not models in order to support creative processes and to foster a diversity of artistic expressions through dance. Over the years, I understood that I was attracted by the principles of co development and co construction as a key for a supportive network of partners with a Euro-Mediterranean scope.
- You have participated in the Creative Tracks event promoted by the Roberto Cimetta Fund in Paris, last March, and had the opportunity to reflect on the reality and challenges to be a cultural entrepreneur, in a European and global context. Could you explain us what were the main concerns raised by the participants?
The seminar was a great opportunity to listen to expressions reflecting the different realities faced by cultural entrepreneurs at the world scale. It has shown the huge gap between countries regarding cultural consideration. By gathering cultural activists, artists, managers, nongovernmental organisations as well as public sector entities and institutions from around the globe, cultural entrepreneurship appeared to be a very complex creative concept. Indeed, we have discovered so many attempts and ideas to address significant challenges. On one side, ICC are acknowledged as economic driving forces (3% of the European GDP, EY report 2015) on other sides, cultural sectors are dramatically lacking of cultural policies in order to act as a lever for the socio-economic development. It also clearly revealed that culture is always challenged by economic hardship, social problems or political threats. In that sense, the seminar was a way to set up a sort of mapping of the global state of play. A global network such as Creative Tracks has a role to play that can bring support and solidarity but also a kind of sense of belonging. Sharing tools helps forging common languages and reference and building a powerful community of changemakers.
Sciences Po-Paris - EM- Politiques et management du development : Potential Afrique
- As an Ambassador, what kind of support / input are you willing to bring to the Creative Tracks community?
Am pleased to participate to a project as such. Because I have noticed the presence of few artists or cultural entrepreneurs from Egypt as members of the platform, my input will be first the increase of their registration and participation. It is the right time to broaden networks in order to be less isolated especially during difficult times. I whish I can help youth to meet their peers who are living in countries where they didn’t used to be connected with. I will be happy to welcome anyone seeking for information or contact within the Egyptian artistic field.
Together with my partners, I will be able to promote the platform during artistic events and promote events within the platform as well. We can also organize encounters by gathering cultural entrepreneurs around topics that are shared on the platform by others. I think we also should create synergies with complementary initiatives acting within the Mediterranean Region for the development of the creative and cultural entrepreneurship. It is up to us to make the platform works as a useful tool.
- Do you have any new projects coming up you would like to share?
I will share the dates of the event “2B continued Lab and Festival” which opening will be in January 2018. Once the young choreographers will be selected we will post on the Platform in order to give them more visibility. There will be more coming soon.
By Aurélie Delater, Inova+