In the 2016/17 season Theatre Glej has rethought its mission, vision and work through the prism of the fast and radical cultural and social changes that occurred during the past decade.
We have ascertained that the creativity and production circumstances have changed significantly since the last extensive programme changes we applied in 2007. At that time the team rewriting the programme responded to the needs of the scene at the time: the lack of space for independent groups and their creativity, lack of support programmes in Slovene theatres, establishing a second wave of independent theatre production and introducing permanent teams and “house” members into production houses.
As a result we introduced a few basic production forms that the environment needed: debut, which offered opportunities to young creators; miniatures, in which fresh ideas were developed and researched ; and open call which enabled a democratic and transparent access to professional creativity.
Ten years later the situation has changed. With the regretful cuts into financing, the Ljubljana and the broader Slovene professional independent theatre creativity has been greatly reduced and became concentrated on a minute number of active participants: there are practically no more independent actors. At the same time a myriad of spaces have opened in which it is possible to present the scattered “hyper-production” as it is often called by the decision makers. In combination these two factors mean that Glej is no longer desperately needed as the sole space of creativity. The financer has substituted the producer as the sieve and selector.
However, we were happy to ascertain that some programmes that were first tried out by us have ended up being used by the major institutions: the development of dramatics, the debut, enabling young graduates from the Academy to work, accessibility of theatre productions to foreigners living in Slovenia…
Glej faced a challenge as we tried to establish our new position under the sun. However, we have found it, and established it. We are merely formalising the principles that the Glej Theatre has been following over the past few years. These can be summed up as follows:
1: our support programmes have refocused to new fields that are not supported by major institutions. Empowering various less privileged youth (especially teenage) groups, whom we help give a voice and develop their skills through the international Generation to Generation programme. Raising awareness and encouraging cultural production amongst students who are not studying at the Academy – this is performed within the StudenTheatre programme carried out in cooperation with JSKD. We also focus on enabling wholesome and stable development of artists through our Resident programme.
2: our artistic programme is refocusing from diversity to quality. This is our response to the ever poorer work conditions on the independent scene, the criticism of hyper-production and the realisation of the importance of overcoming state and regional boarders. We decided to produce less, but more permanent, binding and comprehensive works.
For this purpose we have abandoned the institution of the artistic director and replaced it with the active artistic council which combines the skills of developing artists and artistic practices, production, criticism, public relations, organisation and public responsibility.
Such leadership of artistic organisations (once again we are the first and currently the only one in Slovenia) is surely the way in the future, as it breaks the myth and mystification of the artistic director as the guru, the almighty expert, who is the only one with knowledge and democratises the creative process artistic as well as provides transparency.
We decided not to focus on producing works, but on producing and developing artists. This means that the artistic council is more actively involved in the creative processes. We are the curator as well as producer. By opening up the processes and sharing responsibility we cooperate with the artists from conception to post-production. We seek opportunities for them outside the production itself. We link the education and visiting projects to the contents and needs of the artists; together with them we seek contacts and ties in the international space as well as in other Slovene regions.
We are also constantly making sure that the creative space of the Glej Theatre remains unique. In our understanding of the contemporary situation this means that we focus on original works, the theatre here and now, focused on the creator and the user. We are interested in new, current contents and artistic expressions that can be clearly mediated. Our response to the living core of the creative community is a response to the key issues of the space and time. We support what is not supported elsewhere: young, fresh, authors, performers.
At the same time the curated programme allows us to respond to the needs of the community in a more active and involved way: we can offer the public – who are also a part of our basic mandate and for whom we produce our contents - more current and focused contents. We have started analysing our public and reaching decisions based on the results and the response so far has been excellent.
Thus Glej has set the following new focal points:
- Culturally empowering those groups who are in the most dire need of a space for artistic expression and contents adjusted to fit these groups;
- Developing and supporting artists, as this will ensure continuous cultural production and the development of tools and opportunities for future work;
- focusing on the needs, demands and wishes of the local community and providing contents and approaches that this space and public need.