An interview with Josephine Dusol on the day-to-day goals of Perform Europe
The following is a record of a telephone interview between Josephine Dusol, a French professional working on the Perform Europe project, and Dana Rufolo in March 2021. The conversation was in English.
Joséphine Dusol, what is the background to Perform Europe?
For years, there has been a call for a special touring programme. Already more than ﬁve years ago, IETM wanted to talk to the commission to have special programmes that are more adapted to the performing arts.
So the initiative came from a theatre network, not from the European Commission itself?
Yes. To ﬁnd ways to ﬁnd people who are not part of the current system, the people in these theatre and performance networks had wanted to talk to the European Commission about ﬁnding programmes more adapted to the performing arts …
What exactly does Idea Consult do?
Idea is doing all the research, observation, interviewing. They are there for the statistical point of view.
Research is a very important part of Perform Europe. Since January till June 2021, a research project is being developed to ﬁnd out the needs that the sector might have. We don’t assume what the sector needs — we ask people. In each country of Creative Europe, Idea has a personal contact representative of the country because each country always has speciﬁcities. There’s a survey going on at the moment — we want to know about travelling plans and also why in some countries the companies are not travelling. Slovakia for instance — touring doesn’t exist there. Germany, France, they are used to touring.
Idea is conducting personal interviews with selected representatives of the sector in each country. All of that needs to be combined into recommendations. We want to represent all the kinds of performing arts and not just the companies coming from the big cities. Also small cities and rural areas.
How did Covid lockdowns affect the Perform Europe project?
All of this would have stated up even without the pandemic, but the pandemic helped to create a need — now it’s really urgent.
How did you agree on the values of Perform Europe?
Each of the ﬁve members of the Consortium looked at the preliminary set of values and was able to add or change something.
Inclusivity seems to have already taken place in that I’ve noticed many women in key positions in Perform Europe and ETF and the theatre networks. Was this a strategy, to place women in key positions?
It is true that most of the cultural networks I know in Europe are led by women. They’ve been led by women for a long time now; it is not a strategy. I can’t say why. But you can’t compare the cultural networks with the theatre sector itself. Let’s take the German theatre sector, for instance — it is very patriarchal, conventional. Generally, the Perform Europe values are about losing the barriers and assumptions we all have — making us more aware of how to achieve inclusivity, for instance. For example, when forming a jury, we didn’t want CVs. We wanted personalities or people who are different, and CVs don’t show that. This is important for diversity. The question comes up over and over again: what do you mean by diversity? We can’t answer. It’s everything. Even for me, I have to overcome my own blind spots. For example, if produce a pdf, I must be aware that it wouldn’t be accessible to someone who is blind. We want to open the doors to everyone.
It must be doubly hard for you in Perform Europe to try to include excluded people if they haven’t already knocked on your door and asked to be included.
Yes, and especially it affects applying for grants. If you have never applied for grants, how can you know how to do so? All of us who are creating this platform at the moment, we have made grants applications, so now it is a whole big job for us to make sure it is actually clear for people who never did it. We were thinking of maybe opening Webinars on how to apply or by trying in the capacity that we have — which is quite limited — to be more present. But there is one thing we will never manage, and that is the language.
This is ﬁnally a good consequence of bureaucracy. You are dialoguing, listening, and you have a broad enough research foundation to make valid conclusions about needs connected to touring.
Well, we have all these hopes, but we also know we are not going to do everything perfectly. But in the time of Covid, now, in each country, there is one similarity bringing us together: we are all waiting.
Yes, not waiting for Godot but waiting for Covid to go.