Co-Learning Labs 2021

Take part in Co-Learning Labs

If you would like to learn more about our Co-learning labs, want to host a lab yourself or propose a topic; please do not hesitate to get in touch

We are excited to present a new monthly BIE Network event that we are calling the Co-learning Lab. Co-learning labs are laboratories of around an hour hosted by one of our members who will decide on a topic and provide a ten-minutes input, which will be followed by an open, informal learning session. We strongly hope that this offer will allow for in-depth discussion and mutual learning on topics that BIE Networkers in different parts of the world care about, but might otherwise not have a chance to discuss in more detail. In order to make this event easy for you to remember, we are trying to block the last Thursday of each month at 3 pm CET – but surely there will be exceptions to this rule so please mark your calendars accordingly and please register timely not later than 3 days prior to the lab. The labs will be Zoom conferences and registered participants will receive the link prior to the respective lab.

Thursday, March, 25, 2021 at 3 pm CET
Creative economies, cultural challenges: Economía Naranja (Orange Economy)
as a dominant mindset in Latin America

The cultural sector is increasingly recognized by various international organizations and governments as a key driver of inclusive and sustainable growth, as the world ponders how to recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19. Creative-based products are seen in this light as substantive revenue generators for national economies – generally weakened – and drivers of sustainable development. The United Nations have even declared 2021 as the International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development. In Latin America, with the most unequal societies in the world, the Inter-American Development Bank has developed a policy under the motto of the Orange Economy, which has been progressively permeating a number of governments, especially but not only the Colombian one. Given that Cultural Industries constitute around 7% of the world’s GDP (Unesco, 2010 – Policies for Creativity. Guide for the development of cultural and creative industries”), and represent more than 10 million jobs in Latin America, its undeniable potential has been traditionally overlooked by governments that have failed to take advantage of its potential in the last 70 years, even – in cases such as Argentina’s – losing dominant positions in some sub-sectors (such as film or publishing) in global markets such as the Spanish-speaking world. Nevertheless, the trade balance for the cultural sector in the region is systemically deficient, as it imports more than it manages to export (Villaseñor Anaya, 2014, p. 268). Furthermore, the benefits of such activity are also subject to rent appropriation by concentrated sectors of the economy, monopolies and transnational capital. This leads to the fact that, in terms of human capital, workers in the sector are often under precarious conditions, lacking of well-ordered certifications, and frequently exploited beyond the limits of existing regulatory frameworks (Mauro, 2020). In this sense, the promotion of the sector is multidimensional, as it requires different policy types: supply, demand, systemic and human capital formation (Benavente and Grazzi, 2017) along with a series of State reforms. What underlies this discussion stems from the tensions between “the creative” and “the cultural”, in which the question of identity and patrimony seem to be played off against each other: can support for the creative sectors be harmonised without this representing less support for the cultural sectors? Is the distinction between the two exclusively the search for profit? Is the Orange Economy an “infinite opportunity”, a way of conditioning culture to the laws of the market, or a hybrid between the two?

This session does not pretend to find conclusive answers, but to know in more detail these discussions while learning collectively and horizontally in the exercise of seeking answers. We will be waiting for you!

Speakers and Host:
Felipe Arango (Colombia), Visual artist, leader of the National Union of Artists of Colombia. Barbara Russi (Argentina), member of Fundación Compromiso, which recently launched -in partnership with Upstart Co-Lab & Nesta’s Arts & Culture Finance- Creativity, Culture & Capital a new platform to showcase the potential of impact investment in the creative economy to drive social and environmental change.
Host: Federico Escribal (Argentina), National University for the Arts

Suggested Reading

Buitrago Restrepo, F., & Duque Márquez, I. (2013). The orange economy: An infinite opportunity. Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank. Available here.
What is the Orange Economy?”, The Business Year podcast #30, available here.
La cultura no se puede reducir a la economía naranja“, interview with Patricia Ariza (founder of the La Candelaria Theater, Bogotá). Available here (Spanish).
Please register here until March 22, 2021 latest.

Thursday, April, 29, 2021, 3 pm CET
Is the concept of a virtual festival an oxymoron?

While a percentage of the arts community had been inhabiting digital space before the arrival of Covid-19, the introduction of public health restrictions by governments around the world during 2020 resulted in arts festivals, like other cultural institutions and the wider creative community, turning in unprecedented numbers to digital media and the internet to enable them sustain a meaningful creative practice and connect with the public. As the pandemic enters its second year, digital streaming of arts events and exhibitions by festival organizations, theatres, art centers, galleries and museums is continuing to grow in sophistication and quantity.
As part of a contemporaneous study of the festival sectors’ response to challenges presented by Covid-19, my current enquiry is interrogating the concept of the virtual festival space. In his seminal work on festivals Victor Turner (1984) defined festivals as a liminal space within which there is possibility and transformation, and where feelings of connectedness with other people are created. Building on this work contemporary festival studies theory recognizes festivals as a time and space needed for people to escape from the everyday, and make and deepen connections with others. In the absence of these temporary bounded spheres of licensed transgression – and so many other recognized elements of festival – this session will interrogate the ‘virtual festivals’ that have emerged during the Covid pandemic asking if they can be considered festivals at all?

Host: David Teevan is a researcher, arts consultant and creative producer. Recent publications include Digital Need?: Irish arts festivals’ transition to programming a blend of live and digital experiences for ENCATC and A glimmer of hope: festival making in lockdown for The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaoín, where he is engaged as Festival Advisor. David is a regular guest lecturer on arts management and cultural policy Masters courses at Birkbeck University of London, University of Limerick, Queen’s University Belfast and University College Dublin.

Please register here latest until April 25, 2021.

Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 3 pm CET
Cultural Networks as Third Spaces and their Potential for Community Empowerment

While we have focused for long on what institutions – particularly the established and in many countries heavily publicly funded ones – can do when it comes to audience development and more recently, when it comes to community engagement and empowerment, we have unfortunately marginalized those that are already out there reaching out to diverse communities successfully. Networks can and do provide safe spaces to think, experiment, and be creative. In many cases, they even offer physical places where this can take place in interaction with others. The lab would like to explore the work of networks particularly also regional ones and their potential for community engagement.

Host: Raphaela Henze is Professor of Cultural Management at Heilbronn University in Germany and Co-Investigator of the Arts & Humanities Research Council funded, international and transdisciplinary network Brokering Intercultural Exchange ( Prior to joining Heilbronn University, Raphaela worked in several senior management positions in universities, ministries, and non-profit organizations. Her main research focus is on the impacts of globalization and internationalization on cultural management and cultural management education.

Please register here until May 24, 2021 latest.

Thursday, June 24th at 3pm CET
Informality and the Culture Economy: issues and trends

A key characteristic of the cultural economy in the Global South is the informality of work, of enterprise, of networks, space, finance and of governance. These characteristic features are related to the growth and persistence of the informal economy in countries of the Global South, although it is distinct from forms of employment and enterprise in the general informal economy (or is it?). In Africa, 85.8% of employment, and 95% of youth employment, is informal’ (Munyati, 2020).  In South Africa, youth unemployment reached 59% in the first quarter of 2020 (StatsSA). The majority of these informal workers lack social protection, rights at work and decent working conditions.

The session will question how to understand the growth and persistence of informality in the cultural economy, despite some of the very real challenges experienced such as inability to access space, finance, markets or even, during the pandemic, Covid 19 relief let alone have social protection or secure legally bounded contracts. It asks the extent to which informality is a creative response to regulations in labour/ capital markets.  It will look at the fluidity and mobility between the formal and informal sectors and question the spectrum of informality/ formality in the value chains of the cultural industries – from film to music, to craft, fashion or festivals.  The session will consider ways of understanding the forms of informality present in the cultural economy, how it differs from the broader informal economy of these countries,  the causality between informality and the precarity of cultural work or whether we need to decolonise our thinking about the informal economy to better understand its integration and location as a fully integrated part of the cultural economy.  There may be a need to shift mindsets away from colonial rules and regulations, thinking that only information about the formal is organised, reliable and valid to recognising the internal logics of the informal economy despite its chaotic disorganised appearance and even its association with criminality and illicit trade. This reduces the informal economy to a symbol of underdevelopment and an obstacle to a modernising economy. However, given the extent of informality on the African continent, and indeed the abiding characteristic of informality in the cultural economy,  this co-learning session will explore the extent to which these local indigenous economies are commercially viable in their own right and explore the forms of public support needed to support the ongoing, ‘chosen’ informality of the (vulnerable and emergent) cultural economies of the global South. It will ask whether any of these trends are becoming evident in economies of the global North. 


Avril Joffe is post graduate programme coordinator for the Cultural Policy and Management Department at the School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.  She is also a regular visiting lecturer on the Integration of Culture in Sustainable Development in Africa in the Cultural and Creative Industries MA at Monash, Australia. She is a member of UNESCO Expert Facility for the implementation of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, a member of the International Cultural Relations Research Alliance (IFA/ British Council) and an active member of ENCATC. She is a member of the International Advisory Council of the Cultural Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (Nesta, UK) and board member of the National Arts Council. She is an external evaluator on many cultural programmes implemented on the African continent. Avril is currently leading a project with the British Council and members of the PECs international Advisory Council on Informality and will engage with evidence from this project for this session.

Suggested Reading: 

Lobato R. Creative industries and informal economies: Lessons from Nollywood. International Journal of Cultural Studies. 2010;13(4):337-354. doi:10.1177/1367877910369971

Cehn, Martha and Carre, (eds)  (2020) The Informal Economy Revisited: Examining the Past, Envisioning the Future (Routledge)

Please register here  here until June 21, 2021.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021 at 3 pm CET
Cultural Relations and Cultural Diplomacy Trends – How to make it work?

What are the meanings of cultural relations and cultural diplomacy? Who are the actors involved in the ever widening scope of the field?
How to make the best use of theoretical and practical knowledge in cultural diplomacy for the practices of international cultural cooperation?

Suggested Reading:

Jessica C.E. Gienow-Hecht and Mark C. Donfried eds., Searching for Cultural Diplomacy. New York: Berghahn Books, 2010.
Dragićević Šešić, Milena; Rogač Mijatović, Ljiljana; Mihaljinac, Nina (2017) Cultural Diplomacy: Arts, Festivals and Geopolitics. Desk Kreativna Evropa Srbija.
Host: Ljiljana Rogač Mijatović, Phd, is Associate Professor at the University of Arts in Belgrade, Faculty of Dramatic Arts – Department of Management and Production; her expertise is in the fields of international cultural relations, cultural studies, and cultural policy.

Please register here until July 10, 2021.

Previous Labs:

Thursday, February 25, 2021 at 5 pm CET
Environmental management in creative industries: issues and trends

The power of CCIs to contribute to global environmental challenges and become part of the solutions still needs to be explored, both locally and globally. Artists and creatives are powerful change agents to inspire actions on climate change, protection of the environment and sustainability worldwide. Many organisations and teams, working in different branches of CCIs, are motivated and passionate to connect arts and creativity with management actions and tools for achieving an environmental balance and green planet, fighting with the plastic waste and climate change, carbon emission, scarcity of resources, and many other burning issues that we all face nowadays. The co-learning session will explore actions, management methods and strategic approaches from different corners of the world that assist sustainability and environmental policies at local, national and international level.

Host: Lidia Varbanova is Director of the MA Program in Management of Performing Arts and Industries at the National Academy of Theatre and Film Studies in Sofia. She is also a regular visiting professor at the Master Program in Cultural Management in Casablanca and Master Program in Cultural Policy and Management in Belgrade. She is a member of UNESCO Expert Facility for the implementation of the 2005 Convention on Cultural Diversity and an external evaluator for several Programmes of the European Commission

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