Navigating needs & networks
Dear [insert your name here],
A warm welcome to this blog space! In this article I will follow up on my mobility experience at CircusInfo Finland, in my 3rd and final week, as part of the New Horizons Leadership Programme by Baltic Nordic Circus Network.
The mobility is one format within the programme’s total project frame ranging from September 2020 to May 2021 and each of the participants’ experience during the mobility period may vary, as they take place as individual and independent part of the overall programme. I would summarize my mobility experience as an immersive network-study trip and personal research residency. Now, wrapping up my final week in Helsinki, I would like to follow-up on some of the recurring themes throughout this period, so I can come back to where I left off after my stay in Helsinki and pick up the threads.
What I will take with me from the mobility to study further is how shared resources and the commitment to a network is shaping new impulse in support of culture as a common good. Not serving an individual agenda, but moreover using the collective potential in that kind of co-working teams, to have more people benefit from the shared knowledge, experience, and resources. Sometimes an underestimated quality, but when studying what influences the stakeholders’ working structures there was always great emphasis on community. I am sure this corresponds with the aim to develop supportive work environments and partnerships, as they are powerful incubators for the implementation of new visions in the sector.
I had the chance to meet some of those community representatives in Helsinki and got to talk with managers, artistic visionaries, passionate circus art programmers, and curious comedic circus minds alike. All those encounters left me with a better understanding of what change might mean in their specific context. Implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the Agenda 2030 in the arts practice was one aim I started with, but by navigating the network and their needs, I entered a different state, asking more often: How can I support? What is one possible action in the process to Implementation?
Source: UN Global Goals Agenda 2030
I now regard ‘change’ as a process which is unlimited. There is no need to force change in the sense that change is and always will happen. Sometimes obstacles simply need to be moved, for the process to speed up, or slow down. But there is no sense in forcing change because the process is vital to the development. What is needed seems to be commitment to the process. When those sustainable models manifest eventually, maybe they will be known as sharing economy, value-based business, or resourceful practice. But since it is all a practice, how it is implemented as doing-knowledge may vary.
One example, which I would like to share with you here as a kind of open-source collective brainstorming is that of sustainable touring networks.
Sharing perspectives on this aspect with Anni Hiekkala and Nea Granlund from Finish agency Pragma Helsinki as well as with DanceInfo Finland’s Katarina Lindholm and CircusInfo Finland’s Johanna Mäkelä made me once more realise that the issue is not complicated, just complex. Therefore, there might never be an easy way, there are too many parties involved. But that may also help the process in benefitting from the variety of perspectives on the aspect!
Taking for example the format of regional festival hubs, like the Showcase Performing HEL , introducing a platform to artists and programmers alike, enables them to interact and connect on a rather small scale, but regional level. Compared to the international fairs and festivals in the performing arts world, this is a space for local networking and genuine interest to engage with the region’s cultural sector. Thus, sustainable touring could mean to foster national networks and regional infrastructure or to strengthen those international partners which are open to adapt touring habits to invite artists who have set sustainable standards for their productions.
In order to take action all those perspectives are valuable to the infrastructure and you are kindly invited to get equally involved in this brainstorming.
When speaking with Mikael Aaltonen, the program manager of Dance House Helsinki, a new large-scale venue and production house, currently in construction and located next to cultural hub Cable Factory, switching between the individual visions and needs of all parties involved and the designated position to act as new programmer of dance content yet to be created, seemed like a balancing act. However, his calm and concise manner seemed to mirror his way of open-minded commitment to the process very well. Just as the amazing initiative by Blind Gut Company in collaboration with Cirko and CircusInfo Finland, to invite to a circus art and eco crisis webinar, shows that there lies so much power in creating a space and starting a conversation. (A big thank you to Blind Gut Company’s Saana Peura, who kindly agreed to give us a little wrap-up on this Finish event in English!)
Taking action comes in many forms. A while back I decided to confine myself to a travel-radius and speed that I could reach without the need to board a plane. I ended up not attending Circostrada’s Fresh Circus #5 only to recently read up on Kiki Muukkonen’s article in the publication on the network event, taking up that train of thought in: “What if we all stayed home?”
It simply asks a question, and that itself sparks much greater change than facts. After the experience of severe restrictions under a global pandemic that idea might not seem to be impossible in the cultural sector anymore, but even a much realistic outlook. Why not spark new dynamics in this state of pandemic-related uncertainty and start to narrate more visionary futures? Feel free to take some time to draft out your own sustainable touring ideas
I would like to thank the wonderful and passionate team at CircusInfo Finland for welcoming me despite all odds, sharing resources, visions and supported me navigating new horizons - Kiitos!
 Muukkonen, Kiki “What if we all stayed home?” in: Circostrada publication: Fresh Circus #5 - Circus is Everywhere!. 2020, page 19-20. Read and download here:
Published on: 6. January 2021
NHLP has been made possible with the support of Nordisk Kulturfond and Nordic culture Point, Nordic Council of Ministers, and Lund Municipality