International Opportunities for Artists

Conference Evokes Food for Thought and Initiative

By: - May 02, 2007

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The idea for last weekend's conference was sparked at an artist-retreat in a castle in rural Romania , where again this year, in August, 70 artists from 28 countries have been invited to work, share life and knowledge, and make lasting contacts during a ten-day stay. Dorothea Fleiss, a Romanian-German artist, has been the sponsor for many years, initially to facilitate Eastern European artist-contacts and travel to the West. She is the President of: D. Fleiss  - East West Artists, A Professional Artists Association, based  in Stuttgart , Germany , and for $ 60/year, one can become a member of the association and receive information on their global initiatives and general information dissemination. There are plans for 2008 to also co-sponsor a residency program in Ecuador.  
 Dorothea has managed the global-artist meetings in Romania on a shoe-string budget with her own funds, with much private good will, and the help of her family. Her parents, for example, cook all the meals for the 70 participants. The Romanian government contributes in kind, namely the use of the castle. Artists and area residents meet there in the evening for cultural events: the regional orchestra has given concerts; discussions, celebrations and exchange of projects and ideas; forming of international collaborations and friendships, after the day's work in the studio.
This is only one example of 50 or more residencies and symposia introduced at the conference. The representatives traveled from countries as far away as Australia , South Africa , India , China , Taiwan , Vietnam, Turkey , Finland , Sweden , Ireland , England , France , Germany , Canada , the USA and more, and were greeted with great applause at the Opening Night Reception. It was the beginning of many dialogues between presenters, the 250 attendees, among all who participated in a most sharing environment. Many of the programs that were introduced receive funds from governments, foundations, extensive fundraising, or private means and are geared to all aspects of the artistic or cultural community, many with components to international and peaceful understanding and outreach at the respective locations.
The Conference was sponsored by TransCultural Exchange, and its director, Mary Sherman, who received a standing ovation at the Saturday night fund-raising dinner. She and her organization, with its many volunteers, put out exhausting efforts to bring this conference to life. The planning of the conference, however, happened with only a small staff, but great determination.  The co-sponsors were Northeastern University and  Massachusetts College of  Art and the Saturday schedule was a chockfull program at both venues and one had to pick and choose carefully, what sessions to attend.
For readers, who would like to research their own possibilities in the international art and cultural world, or who were not in the position to participate at the Boston conference last weekend, there is much information about programs and residencies  available at the websites of: TransCultural Exchange – Res Artis – and Alliance of Artists Communities. Just google them!
The Sunday program included a session by the other co-sponsor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at the famous Kresge Auditorium, which was titled: Biennales and Documenta. The panel participants, who have worked for the Dubai and Venice Biennales as well as Documenta 11, confirmed the existence of two, not intersecting circles in which artists and cultural ambassadors of the world function: First, the Community Based Artist Circle and second, the International Artist Circle, sanctioned by those in charge.
But this conference proved that it can change to a large degree: by networking and using the existing resources and forming new alliances and creating new possibilities through private and/or organizational and peaceful initiatives, open to the third Circle: The New Globally Proactive Artist, sanctioned by all involved.
 Dorothea Fleiss East West website: