Lisa Gaupp

Lisa Gaupp studied cultural studies, intercultural & international studies and ethnomusicology at the universities of Lüneburg, Barcelona and Hanover as a fellow of the German National Academic Foundation. Her doctoral thesis focuses on mechanism of “othering” in “intercultural” policies in the field of popular music. In her postdoc research she analyzes curatorial strategies regarding cultural diversity at transnational performing arts and music festivals. Lisa has lived in the USA, Haiti, Guatemala and Spain, and was the Executive Manager of the 2009 Hannover International Violin Competition (Stiftung Niedersachsen). From April 2019 onwards Lisa will hold a Deputy Professorship for Cultual Sociology at Leuphana University Lüneburg.

Beyond Diversity – Festival Curators as Gatekeepers

The paper analyzes the politics of diversity at performing arts and music festivals. Diversity issues have become one of the key issues in the economy, in public life and in governance – in particular in the cultural field. However, the more diversity becomes present and visible, the more it appears to be regulated, policed, and standardized in various ways and with different purposes, ranging from political debates about the “limits of tolerance” up to stereotyped forms of cultural hybridity in fashion or advertisements as well as in arts management and its educational fields.

One of the most urgent tasks in arts management today is the deconstruction of such exotic representations, othering processes and established Eurocentric political and educational concepts. It is crucial to address the continuing biases and assumptions underlying arts management education as well as arts programming – not only show how the arts serve politics, but to explore possibilities to avoid these othering processes.

In order to do so, some examples as to how diversity is standardized in narratives taking place in public debates and in academic discourse as well as in festival curating processes will be unraveled. For example, in the area of „intersectional diversity“, music festivals will be presented that follow the goal of creating a more inclusive environment. Many music festivals are organized by politically active or at least engaged organizations which are now trying to achieve, for example, a gender balance within their artists’ roster. Moreover, in the field of „diversity in the arts“, the goal is to increase the visibility of  artistic diversity, also on a global level. Last but not least, the narrative area “mediating diversity” has the same goal but on the level of the audiences. The audiences attending art performances should become more diverse.

As such, the notions of politics and domination are at the center of these practices. Power is established and de-established by assigning differences, by controlling and sanctioning deviance, leading for example to standardization and thereby to the institutionalization of diversity. The paper will discuss how, by applying a transcultural perspective to diversity in arts management research and teaching as well as in practice, it is indeed possible to avoid the biases underlying education and curating processes.

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