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Performances in Public Spaces

Dear all,
This post is being circulated to all those who attended or applied to attend the IFTR (International Federation for Theatre Research) working group Performance in Public Spaces (PIPS) during the last two years (ie Barcelona in 2013 and/or Warwick in 2014) as the working group determined that this would constitute those who would be eligible to vote in the required election of a co-convenor for the group.

Following this year's meeting PIPS is required to hold an election for a co-convenor. Currently there are three co-convenors:
Joanna Ostrowska
Swati Arora
Tim White

Both Joanna and Swati's positions are up for re-election this year (and mine in the following year). As IFTR expect no more than two co-convenors, the two vacated positions will be replaced with one. At this year's IFTR conference expressions of interest in the position were expressed by two members. You will find their statements below. I, Tim White, will be organising the election and, having hoped to use IFTR's online voting tool to accomplish this, it now transpires that this is not yet in place so am proposing that the election be carried out as follows.
1. Statements from both candidates as well as the voting mechanism will be sent to all those eligible on 1st October. This information will also be posted on the PIPS WG page - - though access and functionality of this appear to be somewhat limited at present, something we hope to resolve once the election is concluded.
2. Voters will have 2 weeks (deadline 4pm GMT 18th November) to reply by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  with the name of their preferred candidate.
3. The votes will be tallied and the new co-convenor announced. In the event of a tie I, as the other co-convenor will cast a deciding vote.
4. The result of the vote will be sent by email to the original list as well as being published on the above url.

The function of the co-convenor
1. To facilitate elections for the other co-convenor!
2. To co-ordinate the working group in terms of chairing debate on the direction, outcomes and arrangements of the group
3. To collate papers/proposals offered for conferences and liaise with other members of the WG as to the format of the WG meetings

The statements (in alphabetical order)

Election Statement: Swati Arora

I've been a member of IFTR since 2009, witnessed and contributed towards the evolution of the Performance and Public Spaces working group in the last two years. I'm grateful for the intellectual stimulation and a supportive network of friends and mentors it has offered to me till now. However, I feel that the representation is still largely dominated by the Euro-American academic scholarship and I want to work towards enhancing the scope and outreach of geographies of performance and performance of geographies that the organisation is committed towards. As there are so few women scholars from India, or even South Asia for that matter, I believe there is an urgent need for diversity - to increase our representation - for IFTR to become truly 'international'. 
Since the 2015 conference venue is in India, I am excited about the possibilities that provides in terms of the group's engagement with the idea of the 'public' space in South Asia - a territory most members are unfamiliar with. I'm already in touch with a few artists who would love to come and conduct workshops and offer multiple ways of creative engagement with the urban. Since the Working Group has a fairly steady core of interested members now, I want it to grow further into a space of critical reflection and playful exchange of ideas. I'm positive that my second term will allow for a more passionate engagement with the vision of the Working Group and the IFTR on the whole. 

Election Statement: Esther Belvis Pons

To the members of the working group Performances in Public Spaces,
I would like to propose my candidacy for the Co-Convenor of the IFTR working Group Performances in Public Spaces.  My practice-based PhD, jointly awarded by the University of Warwick and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, studied the relationship between human bodies and theatrical events through selected European examples of the emergence of transformative ‘in-between’ experimental performance with the aim to explore the radical potential of ‘participation’ as mode of engagement in both aesthetics and politics. At present, I collaborate with Artea (, an organization based in Madrid that brings together scholars and artists with the aim of promoting research in arts and creating appropriate contexts for its generation and communication. Since 2012, I have been a lecturer for the MA in Performing Arts and Visual Culture offered by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS) and the University of Castilla-La Mancha. This year I have edited a collection entitled No hay más poesía que la acción (Paso de Gato, 2015) that will include contributions mainly from Latin American and Spanish scholars and artists. The book interrogates the relationship between theatrical forms of sociality and the industrial and artistic production of theatricality. 
Regarding the position of Co-Convenor, I believe I can bring new insights and ideas to our working group. As decided in our last meeting at Warwick, the Conference should be a place for us to engage with the public space in the host cities and that convenors should facilitate encounters with local artists and scholars to promote the development of collective performances as well as other forms of exchange. From my point of view, all these activities should be layered by the theme of the conference enabling us to experience and recount our concerns from the specific perspective of the working group. In this respect, it is for me a compelling challenge to devise new ways for us to be at the conference and perform its theme. I believe that my experience as a practitioner proves my capacity to create embodied methods of research, having hitherto worked with Rimini Protokoll (Berlin), BADCo (Zagreb) and Stan’s Cafe (Birmingham), among other international theatre companies. As many of these activities require some funds, it is important to count on a co-convenor that is ready to perform as a fundraiser. As a freelancer in the education and cultural sectors, I regularly work for NGOs and foundations (British Council, PEN International, etc.), so I am used to raising funds and fostering partnerships among organizations.

Other aspects that need careful consideration are possible publications and the visibility of the group within the IFTR and beyond it. I believe that the group is not only a space for debate and interaction, but also a space for collaboration and learning. In this regard, it is important to plan and develop a possible publishing and communication plan for the group. Besides, the books or special issues we can propose to specialized journals, it is important that we communicate the activities that we create and produce inside and outside the conference. Even so, prior to that it is important to establish regular communication with the members of the group so there are at least updates between the conferences. I can commit myself to deliver an effective communication if elected, especially since I have previously worked as an event coordinator and curator for the National Museum Centre of Art Reina Sofía (Madrid). I understand the energy that these kinds of tasks involve. 
Personally, being convenor would offer me opportunity to strengthen my skills, especially in terms of communication and group management while providing an in-depth understanding of our field of research. I currently live in Spain where there are not departments of theatre and performance studies in the universities, and given that I am a freelancer. It is very difficult to have an umbrella or stable network that can provide me regular interaction with the academia. For that reason, it would be very helpful and inspiring to maintain contact with other international scholars through the working group. At the same time, I can provide different approaches to how things are understood and practiced in other contexts due to my cross-cultural experience and can foster a vibrant dialogue about public space among us. In this respect, our working group should stand as an example of transdisciplinarity since it very easily interacts with other fields, which means expanding our presence in other scenarios and contexts. I am therefore professionally and personally committed to foster new activities and to contribute to the advancement of knowledge within the working group while providing my support to IFTR.


Esther Belvis Pons




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