In the last 5 years, the Swiss Performing Arts scene has witnessed an incredible boom. New artistic practices are being devised, as well as newfound visibility for the diverse bodies that create them. The cultural landscape of the city of Zürich has benefitted tremendously from this change, specifically larger institutional spaces.
Whether it be the racially diverse ensemble of Theater Neumarkt, the gender diversity of the house directors at the Schauspielhaus, the house residency of Cryptonite at Gesnerallee (which boasts the only larger performing opportunity for disabled bodies) or the creation of such organizations as Faispec and M2Act:
NOW, more than ever, it is clear that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are the foundation blocks of the art scene of the future.
At the same time, it is a fact that all major cultural institutions in the city of Zürich are headed by primarily white, cis, hetero, able-bodied directors, and each of these institutional spaces continues to maintain an infrastructure that perpetuates discrimination in various forms. No major institution has a plan in place to enforce sweeping structural change, besides a single employee in the form of a "Diversity Coach," nor anything beyond a codex which none of the employees is even required to sign/agree to.
As a result, the unfortunate reality is the following:
-There is no safe space within the Zürich institutional art scene that does not continue to perpetuate violence on marginalized bodies.
-Many artistic institutions have incompatible beaurocratic boards (Verwaltungsrat) that hinder the progress of the institution.
-There is no institution with the intention (whether due to lack of resources or lack of desire) to do the radical necessary work to truly change discriminatory, unjust practices TODAY.
To be part of current institutional spaces is to be asked to continue to endure discrimination or receive no space at all. Violence, unpaid labour and mobbing are common practices that are employed in these spaces to gloss over the fact that good intentions and more diverse hiring practices are not enough.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion must be testaments that are treated with the utmost necessity.
The heart looks into space to be away from earth.
- RICHARD JEFFRIES
The goals must be:
1) To build a space where the foundational blocks are Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access and Empathy. All work is built upon and from these principles ( instead of them being an afterthought)
2) All employees have the common goal of creating a space that acknowledges discrimination in its many forms, by starting with the collective understanding that we have all been socialized within colonial, patriarchal, capitalist, ableist structures.
3) All employees are given a series of trainings which create a common knowledge to be able to support the needs of the artists in an informed manner.
4) To create environments where people from marginalized groups can work without being constantly reminded of barriers to access or be asked to do deconstruction work for the institution.
5) To foster caring relationships with artists and ensure they are being supported in an ethical way.
6) To create a working and sustainable model that proves DEI principles can be integrated timely and effectively into an institutional structure.
What is Space Camp
“The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.”
SPACE CAMP is a co-collaborative trans-disciplinary space that invites artists/performers from marginalized groups who reside first and foremost in Zürich, then in Switzerland and lastly from around the globe to come together over two weeks to imagine, create, learn and network in a POC run “safer space.”
SPACE CAMP is an active response to the overwhelming desire of people from marginalized groups to have their own spaces; to have access; to have visibility and to have all of these without having to endure the violence of spaces that were not built to include us.
For the first edition of SPACE CAMP, Tanzhaus Zürich will be our institutional partner. 4 days will be used for the administrative transition. In the remaining 10 days, artists will have the possibility to work in a space that has actively spent the time learning how to decolonize an institutional space and has deconstructed access barriers.
SPACE CAMP is fully committed to ensuring programming and infrastructure that listens to the needs and desires of each artist. We believe that standardized programming/education in any form is a way in which institutions continue to maintain harmful capitalist production methods by focusing on quantity over quality. This program will be designed for the individuals within the space, and should there be multiple iterations, the program will continually be adapted for each group that attends.
This is How We Do IT
"Space...The Final Frontier"
The main difference between SPACE CAMP and the normal institutional setting will be:
1) All staff supporting the event will be trained in diversity, equity and inclusion before the beginning of the camp.
2) All guests will be required to consent to a communal set of practices that center care, knowledge and empathy as the base of our practices.
3) Each artist will be allowed to submit a rider that entails what they need to create/exist/feel safe in the best form.
4) Upon arrival, all artists will work together on the first day to build a communication culture and a common vocabulary that will guide us for the next two weeks of the residency.
5) A system will be established to resolve conflicts that also includes accountability before the start of the event.
6) The space will be designated as a learning space, but artists who are marginalized will not be expected to do the work to educate others about their experiences.
7) This project wants to exist outside of the capitalist-driven artistic system. Therefore the artists will not be expected to produce a product, though they may if they like. Artists will also be given the possibility to present anything they would like, which also allows them the benefit of later using the institution’s name in their resume.
8) Artists will be allowed to apply through various channels. Applicants will be either recommended, selected or randomly picked ensuring the most diverse pool.
9) The Application process will have various ways for people to present their application so as to be able to work with the medium that best suits the applicant’s abilities.