– by Diana Joicaliuc –

– translated by Sebastian Ispas –

For over 25 years, professionals in the performing arts from all around the world come to Sibiu. Every year, artists, producers, agents, cultural institution managers and festival directors meet here. They learn from one another, they exchange ideas and, most importantly, the strike up partnerships. And these connections are made possible through the Sibiu Performing Arts Market, a structure associated with the Sibiu International Theatre Festival.

We’ve created this Market, which is, in fact, the only certified Market in Romania registered with the national patent office, with the intention of giving young artists a chance even if they’re not in productions selected for the Festival’, explains Constantin Chiriac, president of the Sibiu Performing Arts Market and the Sibiu International Theatre Festival.

The Sibiu Performing Arts Market is a market, but also a platform for dialogue, dedicated towards openness, communication, and debate. ‘It is very important to give artists a chance to be heard and to get contracts.’

After a previous pandemic edition with all the events unfolding exclusively online, this year, The Market will take place between 23 and 26 August in a hybrid format, so that the participants in Sibiu, as well as those unable to travel, can engage in dialogue and create something together using digital solutions.

With over 300 participants from 30 countries, The Market has enjoyed an extraordinary exposure last year thanks to the internet, says Constantin Chiriac. ‘In 2020, The Market was one of the strongest structures to reach international awareness. There was such an excitement that we had to organise two additional meetings with The Market in September and January. These digital meetings have given us the assurance that a hybrid formula would be the most useful for this year’s edition. Therefore, we will have in-person participation of artists, theatre managers and festival directors from all over the world coming over, but we will also have online meetings. This digital formula grants us the opportunity of having with us key figures the likes of which we could only dream of.’

At last year’s Market events, the American writer and producer Cindy Sibilsky was also in attendance. ‘It was for the first time that I felt hope, in a period when all tours were cancelled, and the career I had built for over ten years, simply evaporated.’

Cindy Sibilsky eagerly awaits this year’s meeting with the participants at the Sibiu Performing Arts Market. ‘The value of this festival and of The Market is undeniable. The world arts mar­ket has changed and it’s the first time when I’ll get together with colleagues the world over and I’ll be able to establish new connec­tions. I can’t wait to visit Romania and the charming city of Sibiu. I know it will be a life-changing experience’, says Cindy Sibilsky, producer, writer and reviewer at InJoy Entertainment LLC.

In a letter addressed to the president of FITS, Constantin Chiriac, Anthony Sargent CBE, one of the most esteemed international cultural consultants, expressed his admiration for the way in which the Sibiu team managed to keep the torch alight for the Festival these past 18 months, difficult as they were, through productions which entered the Digital Scene repertory, but also through meetings within The Market itself. ‘As we all struggle to climb out of this abyss, I eagerly await this year’s Festival in its hybrid live-online form. For this past impossible year, I’ve greatly admired you’, relates Anthony Sargent.

This year, at the 25th edition of The Market, participants will get a chance to meet, among others, Christian Watty (director of the Euro-Scene Leipzig Theatre Festival), Kaku Nagashima (vice general director of the Tokyo Festival), Danny Tan (founding president of the Odyssey Dance Theatre Ltd) and Barbara Gessler (head of Creative Europe, European Commission & Directorate General – Education and Culture). Some of them will visit Sibiu for the first time, while others are already familiar with the Sibiu Performing Arts Market.

This year, the Argentinian choreographer Brenda Angiel, famous for her aerial dance shows, will return to The Market. ‘I believe this Market is very important because, on the one hand, it facilitates the connection between artists and those able to promote them, but on the other, helps us free our minds and reflect on our art. It’s an essential experience!’, says the art director of Brenda Angiel Aerial Dance Company.

In Meetings with Great Choreographers, participants will have the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most important choreographers in the world, who are staging productions at the Sibiu International Theatre Festival, for instance: Israel Galván, Amir Kolben, Joseph Nadj, Jo Strømgren and Rami Be’er. The meetings and workshops will take place at the Sibiu County Centre for the Preservation and Advancement of Traditional Culture “Cindrelul – Junii”.

The Sibiu International Theatre Festival, through The Sibiu Performing Arts Market, is also initiating a first encounter of institutions and structures with triple dimensions in the field of performing arts: theatre, festival, and school. The Creation – Education – Dissemination event will take place at the MyContinental Hotel. ‘We’re trying to create a partnership at a European and international level between structures with a theatre house, festival but also a school for theatre, choreography or performing arts. Across the globe, there aren’t many structures leading the way in the performing arts in this manner’, explains Constantin Chiriac, president of The Sibiu International Theatre Festival.

Thus, following the Sibiu model, in which The “Radu Stanca” National Theatre organises The Sibiu International Theatre Festival and includes the participation of The Department of Drama and Theatre Studies at Lucian Blaga University, the aim is to create a network which is capable of birthing partnerships, collaborations and exchanges in the field of performing arts, in all three dimensions.

‘When you can join art with education and research and elevate them to a European and global scale, this means not only setting the frame for Great Art, but more so, establishing a dialogue with the school, setting an example for the student, and it also means involving the field of research. I must confess that I’ve had it with so many PhDs with no work to their name”, says Constantin Chiriac.

This year’s edition also marks the continuation of the endeavours initiated by the Sibiu Performing Arts Market through the free online meetings in September of 2020 and January of 2021, with the aim of maintaining and expanding the connections esta­­blished over time. Consequently, The Market features the “Digital and Alternative Solutions for the Performing Arts” conference. The coronavirus pandemic has radically changed the world of theatre, and this has led to an inclusion of discussions on the best practices, as well as debates on the argument for alternatives to conventional productions.

Furthermore, another conference included in this year’s Market programme, “Culture: A Driving Factor for Community Development”, will present an overview of the ways in which the development of a city is closely linked to its cultural makeup.

The Market also includes the highly anticipated series: “Talking Festivals”, “Cultural Conversations” and “Speed Networking”, one of the most successful events of The Market. It comprises a number of live or online meetings in which artists from all over the world can speak to important promoters and festival directors in the span of 10 minutes, regarding a possible collaboration.

The Sibiu Performing Arts Market is the largest cultural network in Central and Eastern Europe. Its 25th edition will take place between 23 and 26 August, in a hybrid format, both face to face and online.

(article published in the special edition of Capital Cultural magazine, No. 27)