How are artists chosen for Santarcangelo Festival?

Santarcangelo Festival is a multidisciplinary event, and we present and produce theatre, live art, dance,  music, visual art and film. However, the fluidity of contemporary artistic practice often means that the work is a combination of these genres, or doesn’t really fit into any category. Our main focus is performative practice in all diversity of its forms. We work with both Italian and International artists.
The artists are chosen by the curatorial team of the festival: Artistic Director Eva Neklyaeva, Co-curator Lisa Gilardino and music Curators Stefania Alos Pedretti and Francesca Morello.

How do we learn about new work?

• We travel extensively to see the work. The curatorial team makes around 80 trips a year, in Italy and internationally. We see performances, exhibitions, films, participate in conferences and workshops, meet artists to talk about their work.
• We follow suggestions and tips from our associated artists Motus, Francesca Grilli and Markus Öhrn, colleagues, other artists and curators. We follow the programmation of other festivals and venues. We watch video documentation of performances, live concerts and exhibitions.
• We process hundreds of artistic proposals that arrive to our emails.
• We follow closely current conversation about contemporary artistic practice, reading publications, following debate on social media and in the press.

What are the criteria for selection?

• The main criteria is the relevance of the artistic practice, both in esthetics and content, to the contemporary reality. We are always looking for an answer to the question: why this work is urgent today and how can it be meaningful for Santarcangelo?
• We are looking for the work that pushes the boundaries of what artistic practice can be today, whether it is theatre, music, dance or live art. We think that the works within the festival should have the potential to sparkle conversation, both about the political and social topics, but also about the artistic strategies how to approach them.
• Due to the fact that Santarcangelo takes place in a small town without proper theatre/museum/concert venues, site specific projects have been historically a strong part of the festival identity. In the festival program, there is a balance between stage works (that still always need to be re-invented for the venues we have), and works for public space and local context. We are always on a lookout for artists who can bring contemporary practice into the streets/squares/industrial venues/cafes/parks/other unexpected places of Santarcangelo. The festival often produces new projects by artists done specifically for local context, engaging local community or working on the locally relevant topics.

How the selection process happens?

After seeing the work, we start a dialogue with artists, researching the trajectory of their careers, previous projects and talking about the plans for future research. In this conversation, we decide if to invite already existing work, or to work together on something new, specifically for Santarcangelo. Often these are long conversations, spanning several years, until we find the right project or the funding required for it. All the projects are discussed within the festival team, and looked at from several angles: communication, audience development, production, budget and technical production. The final selection takes place in the beginning of the year, when we have a lot of projects on the table and we start creating a sort of jigsaw puzzle of the program. The criteria that come into play then are: the balance and diversity within the program, the balance between paid and free events, events happening inside and open air, variety of performative languages, works engaging different audiences, emerging work vs. well known artists, performance vs music vs other events. We also look at how the festival happens all around the city, so that the events would be evenly spread around Santarcangelo. During many conversations with the artists, the main lines within the program emerge in an organic way,  as a reaction to a multiplicity of voices, urgencies and concerns. The dramaturgy of the festival invites the audience to discover what these themes are, while the festival takes place.

What happens after the artists have been chosen?

Usually by January we have confirmed 90% of the program.  After confirming the invitation, the festival team starts the process of working on production and communication of the works. Often this requires artists coming for production and research residencies to Santarcangelo, working on choosing right locations for the work, creating connections with the local communities, etc. Simultaneously we work on the best strategies on communicating the performances, especially the ones that employ new, unfamiliar formats. The full program is published in April – May.