Bruxelles: Benelux Innovators!
October 29, 2010
During the Edinburgh International Book Festival, an international delegation came to Edinburgh under the auspices of the British Council ‘Bookcase’ programme. The group comprised cultural practitioners from all over the world; festival directors, programmers, writers, facilitators and, as well as a packed daily programme of book festival events, they took time to lunch in several literary institutions across the city. We were delighted to co-host a lunch here at the library in collaboration with our close neighbours, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, on Saturday 21 August.
Our Robyn and Donald Smith, director of the Storytelling Centre, both gave welcomes and explanations to our international visitors about our respective organisations, programmes and activities, and as a result of mentioning our love of all things social media, Canan Marasligil, Project Manager of the Benelux Region for the British Council invited me (Peggy) to Brussels to talk to the Benelux Innovators group about how we engage with audiences using social media channels. I went just last week to take part in a meeting in the wonderful Bozar on the broader topic of ‘engaging with audiences’ (a topic close to the hearts of programmers and communications people everywhere!) and spoke alongside Sophie Hayles, from the Whitechapel Gallery in London and Duncan Speakman – artist, theatre maker and creator of subtlemob.
Sophie was really interesting on the particular concerns of drawing local audiences to your space, pertinent to the Whitechapel Gallery in light of its original didactic and site-specific mission to ‘bring great art to the people of the East End of London’, and on international partnerships. Duncan meanwhile explained how he has used the concept of a subtlemob to bring audiences into a shared, public experience using music and dialogue to ‘make films without cameras’. I talked about all of you, our loyal readers, who read our blog and share our tweets and like our Facebook stuff, you who make communicating poetry such a pleasurable dialogue, and hardly like work at all. We projected images of the Scottish Poetry Library, inside and out, for all the Benelux network to see: for that moment, and in continued dialogue, the Scottish Poetry Library spreads its work to Brussels, the Netherlands and Luxembourg!
It’s excellent to be a part of this network, and I’m very grateful to Canan and the British Council for the invitation; it was invaluable to meet others from the sector outside of Scotland who are engaging with their audiences and each other about how to communicate – and listen – effectively. Staying on for the remainder of the weekend, I had a fabulous time exploring Brussels. I particularly enjoyed visiting the exhibitions and cinematek at Bozar, the music in St Gery, the superb English language bookshop on Wolfengracht (which has a great poetry selection!) and felt it would’ve been culturally remiss not to sample the local fare… I’ll leave the moules, beers, waffles and chocolates for another time…