Caringly Connecting Continents

Our Special Envoy

In Between Time are international producers and internationalism is our lifeblood. Through collaboration with incredible international artists and their work, we invite people to see the world through different perspectives and walk in each other’s shoes. We build worldwide networks for the benefit of local people and collaborate to share new ideas and innovation.

With the impact of the climate crisis evident all around us, we face urgent and unavoidable questions. How do we continue these vital international collaborations at a time when we urgently need to reduce the impact of flights and carbon emissions?  What wild new forms of practice and ways of working can we create together, so that we can secure the future of internationalism in the arts when we need it most?

International art markets have been a long-time staple of the industry, as a way of connecting with peers, producers, artists and new work. This field of exchange is essential to a sector that thrives off innovation and sharing of ideas. Nowhere is this more the case than in the boundary-busting arena of live art.

However, these international markets come at a cost, both in terms of the environmental impact of emissions from long-haul flights, and the physical toll on artists and participants. Despite excellent initiatives to address inequities and exclusion, art markets remain the preserve of the privileged minority from affluent backgrounds and nations.

In June 2023 In Between Time’s Artistic Director, Helen Cole decided to challenge these norms by proposing a new, more sustainable way of attending international festivals and art markets.

This new initiative, Special Envoy, shared a provocation with the arts sector that dramatically reduced her carbon footprint and offered more equitable access to important contacts, networks and opportunities.

Working with the team at APAM (Australian Performing Arts Market) 2023 Helen repurposed the cost of one international flight and delegate pass, and invited Australian artist Kelli McCluskey (Chief Artist, pvi collective) to become IBT’s Special Envoy, acting as ‘her boots on the ground’ by attending APAM in her place. By collaborating with Kelli, Helen was able to attend APAM vicariously while Kelli took Helen’s place as a speaker at the event and held face-to-face meetings with artists, presenters and future IBT collaborators.

This first iteration of Special Envoy proved very successful, enabling vital industry relationships between UK and Australia to be deepened, and new artistic collaborations to begin.  Alongside the carbon saved by substituting a long-haul journey with an internal flight, reduced travel time and improved productivity, Special Envoy increased profile and networking opportunities, with 16 artists new to IBT pitching their work via Kelli and 15 global artists and producers registering interest in becoming a Special Envoy in the future.

What transpired were the exciting possibilities that Special Envoy brings into view. By adopting Special Envoy as a shared global initiative, we can see a future in which our critical international work as a sector can be secured for the benefit of those that are to come. At the same time we can do this whole international art market thing so much better – with environmental and social responsibility sitting at the core.

We found at APAM and in general across the arts sector in Australia a shared recognition of the need to act now by finding innovative ways to work differently together and a clear appetite for developing the Special Envoy idea into a bigger initiative, with more partners and countries involved.

Watch this space…