Emergence has put the spotlight on problems that are occurring in Europe

Interview with Michaela Buriánková, the General Manager of Prague Quadrennial. 


“Emergence has put the spotlight on problems that are occurring in Europe but aren’t in the centre of interest. I consider that to be very important. Another of the goals we’ve accomplished, and that has exceeded my expectations, is the outstanding way the international partnerships have worked. All the new collaborations have been developed further and are giving rise to many new projects. I’m very pleased about that.”

Michaela Buriánková has worked for Prague Quadrennial since 2013. Currently, she is the managing director and manager of international projects (the European programmes Culture, Creative Europe, and Erasmus+). In the past, she worked for the press department of the Office of the President of the Republic, for the National Museum, and for the Czech Association of Museums and Galleries. She has extensive experience in the management of investment projects (the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague) and fundraising (Wikimedia ČR).


What connects all the countries participating in the Emergence project? 

The Emergence project approached partners from all over Europe with a resonating political background. For me, it was a huge plus to have attention focused on problems occurring in Europe but that were not currently in the spotlight. When Creative Europe issued the open call for proposals, the biggest topic was migration. Emergence broke free from that and addresses completely different things. It uncovers forgotten secrets from the past, and at the same time it speaks openly about contemporary conflicts. 



The project involves diplomacy and the management that goes with that. Do you ever encounter problems? 

We sometimes run into problems at the local level, such as self-censorship or disagreements with management. A lot of the partners are national theatre centres, which could mean stability and a secure inflow of money, but that’s not entirely true. The institutions are influenced by whatever is decided above them. As far as the international project goes, however, we’ve never had conflicts or breakdowns in the collaboration.  

Has there been anything that’s surprised you during the project? Anything that’s exceeded your expectations?

The partnership between the various organizations has been fantastic. The project was setup so we could invite organizations we’d already worked with a were sure of. At the same time, we also approached new partners, such as Ukraine. The partners are interested in continuing collaboration independent of us. There are a lot of ideas being generated for more projects, a lot of experts have come on board, and students have gained contacts and exchanged experiences. In my opinion, this has worked out really well. 

Have you ever got involved in the performance of a partner? 

When it comes to performances, we’ve really gave the partners a great deal of freedom. Each partner did their own projects that fell under a certain methodology, topic. Everyone had the opportunity to do things their own way. 


How are the students that participate in the workshops in the various countries chosen? Can they sign up on their own?

It depends on the country and the institution. In Norway, they choose students directly from schools, because they already have substantial experience in a given methodology that they can pass on. In Latvia, students are chosen by means of an open call; there, they need to activate students. We made an agreement with the project partners that they’d get access to students on their own. The situation is different in each country, and the way the different groups of students connect gives rise to collaboration that benefits everyone involved.