Unlocking Europe: how to work abroad as an artist

Installing RedBall in Antwerp at sunrise with the team.

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As an artist have you ever wondered how to work in Europe and abroad? Most performing and visual artists assume a career should follow the regional to national to international ladder, and that there is a normal evolution.
What if that’s wrong?

Unlocking Europe

I had the standard assumptions coming out of art school; I would hustle for galleries, a teaching job, a grant. At some point I started making work that didn’t fit that model well. Now years later having worked in 30 international cities and built a global practice, I realize my career lives in a network most American artists don’t even know exists. I would like to help open that door. The European festival networks are not for every artist or every kind of work, but it’s a large and diverse ecosystem that supports working artists all over Europe. Actually almost everywhere in the world except the US.

The idea for a class at Creative Capital came out of a desire to share and demystify this ecosystem for other artists. When I’m commissioned and working for a festival, I’ve often looked over the catalog and thought, where are the American artists? I’ve come to believe that for some artists there are audiences and funding sources waiting for their work beyond the US.

Palais Longchamp Marseille, for RedBal Marseille with Lieux Publics.
Palais Longchamp Marseille, for RedBall Marseille with Lieux Publics.

What is a European Festival?

Few people in the US cultural scene have been to an international arts festival, or understand what one is. In the US, a festival is a film or theater festival, or perhaps some huge music event. Those exist in Europe as well, but bare no relation to the network I’m speaking of. An annual city festival in Europe runs anywhere from a long weekend to 3 months, with budgets of 5 to 50 million Euros supplied by the cultural wing of the government. Much of the programming is free, but ticketed events in theater, dance, performance, installation or music also play a role.

I know an EU artist team who received over 500,000 Euros to develop a year-long project making a series of film/images with the community using an advanced version of something like Google’s street view. This was for a single festival. It’s not the norm, but it speaks to the kind of ideas that can be funded and presented in this network.

The New Class

Sign up at Creative Capital for the first ever webinar on this topic. Creative capital webinars are offered 2-4 times a year and fill up fast.

If you want to know when I’m teaching a new class, and receive notice of new professional development content related to working in Europe like budgeting, proposals, or my experience in two international copyright lawsuits and what I learned, sign up!

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