IETM – Tips from a first timer…

As a first time attendee at an IETM plenary session I thought it might be useful to record a few personal observations and tips from a personal, rookie’s point of view, in case they might be useful to someone in the future…

1. ITEM used to be known as the Informal European Theatre Meeting and this title gives a hint as to some of the differences about their plenary sessions. The way IETM lays out its information suggests the event takes a conventional conference format, but in fact these plenary sessions are more informal and relaxed in their approach. At their heart are opportunities to network and the discussions, lectures and performances rather punctuate these opportunities to meet and talk.

2. Many of the delegates at ITEM have been attending for many years and have built up a list of colleagues, acquaintances and partners they meet on a regular basis. As a first time attendee it can feel a little like a “closed shop.” That said, because IETM is all about networking most people are keen to talk and exchange views, so don’t be deterred and get involved. However, it might mean attending a few times to get the full benefit from a plenary event.

3. Like any gathering, certain sessions will be more useful and informative than others. At ITEM I found those involving several speakers or contributors were more interesting, not least because at 1hr 45mins long the variety of speakers kept the interest levels up during the session.

4. Dipping in and out of sessions seems to be part of the IETM model and moving between different sessions running at the same time can mean you make the most of your visit.

5. The Valencia Plenary was hosted at venues across town. This allowed you to become immersed in the location but means you must be prepared for a good deal of walking – fun but hard work.

At Valencia the number of delegates representing venues was lower than normal but artists, creatives and producers were out in force. Overall my first visit to an IETM plenary event was not quite what I had anticipated but nevertheless a worthwhile and enlightening experience.

Richard Foster
Chief Executive, Brewery Arts Centre