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New series of seminars: BIE Co-Learning Labs


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, June 24, 2021 at 3 pm CET 
Informelity and the Cultural 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

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


August 26, 2021 at 3 pm CET
Public history, divided societies and trusting communities with their own truths

What is the role of museums and heritage institutions in contributing to, mediating and/or supporting communities in telling their own stories? When it comes to core curatorial business, museums and heritage institutions are not good at sharing. Often museums ask people to contribute their stories to exhibits and activities, but do not always create space for a true handing over of the reins, trusting people with their own truths. At worst, this can amount to a kind of cultural asset-stripping, where museums exploit communities for their stories and give nothing in return. 

It can be transformative for audiences to hear stories told in ways we recognise, and creates a sense not just of belonging, but of ownership. Museums carry a heavy and difficult legacy of institutional power. How can we create space without dictating how it will be filled? How can we make room for groups whose stories have been marginalised, suppressed and unheard? Drawing from examples of work in Northern Ireland, Hong Kong and Ireland, this co-learning lab will explore the challenges of bringing communities into institutional spaces without offloading onto them the cultural labour of coming to terms with the flawed stories the sector has told in the past. What is the job of heritage/museum professionals in providing all audiences with the space and the tools to hear as well as be heard, and to walk in someone else’s shoes?

Host: Dr Dominique Bouchard is Head of Learning and Interpretation at English Heritage where she leads on interpretation, art commissioning, digital curatorial, learning, publishing, and national youth engagement across more than 420 historic buildings, monuments and sites. She received her doctorate from Oxford University in Classical Archaeology, she has spent 15 years leading exhibitions and learning programmes in museums globally. Dominique is an academic, curator and educator, with particular expertise in contested histories and divided societies, including Northern Ireland and Hong Kong, and her published work focuses on curatorial practice, interaction design, and community engagement in divided societies.

Please register

September 30, 2021 at 3 pm CET
Post-colonialism and federal arts funding bodies: An Australian case

Since the arrival of colonial-settlers in Australia over 200 years ago, Aboriginal peoples have been subjected to a policy of oppressive practices. While many oppressive practices are still in place, shifts took place from the 1970s. The emergence of contemporary Aboriginal arts in 1972 paralleled the establishment of the Australia Council for the Arts, the federal government’s arts funding and advisory body, and their Aboriginal Arts Board are two and pertinent to this topic. Both the Australia Council for the Arts and the Aboriginal Arts Board are examined in this presentation by analysing their annual reports over 47 years, from the first annual report in 1973 until the most recent one available in 2020. This presentation reveals whether the representation of Aboriginal arts and artists keeps pace with shifts in understanding by colonial-settler society, Australian arts funding and artistic leadership. It reveals the stories behind images in annual reports and what they tell us about regard for Aboriginal arts and artists in the Australian government’s major arts and cultural policy-making body.

Suggested reading:

Australia Council for Arts. (2017). Domestic Arts Tourism: Connecting the Country, viewed 18 February, 2020 <>.

Australia Council for Arts. (2015). Building Audiences: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts .

Australia Council for Arts. (2015). Arts Nation: An overview of Australian arts .

Rentschler, Lee & Subramaniam (2021) Calculative practices and socio-political tensions: A historical analysis of entertainment, arts and accounting in a government agency Accounting History 26(1), 80-101.


Ruth Rentschler is Professor of Arts & cultural Leadership in UniSA Business, University of South Australia. She is a management scholar in the context of arts and culture, with a history of research excellence demonstrated by her quality national and international grants, journal publications and leading of national and international research teams, while developing an international profile as a researcher. She is Deputy Chair of the board of Australian Dance Theatre. She has served on the boards of numerous arts organisations over time. She has received various honours and awards, such as Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Service to the Community, Best Doctoral Supervisor Award, Cutting Red Tape Award, and an Order of Australia for services to education, the arts and the community.

Please register



To learn more about the Network’s activities or to participate, please contact:

Victoria Durrer, Lecturer in Arts Management and Cultural Policy, Queen’s University Belfast at

Raphaela Henze, Professor of Arts Management at Heilbronn University at 

This network has been initiated through an Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Network Grant awarded to Victoria Durrer from Queen’s University Belfast, UK and Raphaela Henze from Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences, Germany. It seeks to understand the role of arts and cultural managers as intercultural brokers in our context of globalisation, internationalisation and global migration. Intercultural understanding suggests capacity for appreciating, recognising and relating to different world viewpoints and experiences. Historical and empirical research recognises the role arts and cultural objects and expressions, like fine and performing arts and heritage, play in political, cultural and ethnic relations. Yet, little is known about the role of arts and cultural managers, their practice and education, in this process.

In fact, arts and cultural managers shape and structure intercultural exchange. They direct and administer arts and cultural projects between nations, and devise, plan and develop arts and cultural programming to attract and include growing migrant populations as audiences, participants and creators within nations. Global, cultural, post colonial, and intercultural studies show that mechanisms for fostering or hindering intercultural understanding are often based on long standing terminology, institutional structures, and habits upheld by practices and pedagogies within specific professions.

We will integrate and apply this research to the traditions, institutions and actions of arts and cultural management to extend awareness of the part arts and cultural managers play in intercultural exchange with 5 goals:

  • Gather international, multidisciplinary researchers with arts and cultural management practitioners, policymakers, educators and students to share knowledge and uncover new areas of research about intercultural understanding in arts and cultural management education and practice
  • Learn how arts and cultural management practitioners, policymakers, educators and students perceive and experience intercultural exchange within international arenas of practice and education
  • Apply ethnic, historical, postcolonial, global, intercultural, and cultural studies to these perspectives to examine dominant terminology, structures and traditions shaping arts and cultural management practice and education
  • Share findings, bibliography and documentation widely to students, practitioners, educators, policymakers and researchers to foster policy impact, further study and networking
  • Enable new research projects examining intercultural work in arts and cultural management

Even after the termination of our initial AHRC funding by mid-2018 the network, which has now around 800 followers and members from more than 25 countries, will carry on with its important work. We will continue to host seminars and conferences and we have established a “Winter School” open to a selected number of international Master students of arts management. This three days intensive seminar in co-operation with the Robert Bosch Cultural Managers Network and MitOst e.V. will be launched in Berlin in November 2018. We will also continue to share information and insights on the topic of intercultural exchange (e.g. literature lists, presentations, articles by scholars, practitioners and artists, book and conference reviews as well as calls) on this website.

We therefore cordially invite you to join us as a member and visit our website regularly for updates on our plans and programmes.  

Please feel free to contact us with every query you may have:


Dr Victoria Durrer

Queen’s University Belfast


Prof Dr Raphaela Henze

Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences


Dr Antonio C. Cuyler

Florida State University


Dr Karsten Xuereb

University of Malta

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