The IMPULSE! -project aims to promote European contemporary puppetry and visual theatre by developing sustainable touring structures, creating networks, and enhancing professional development for artists and producers - as well as introducing new audiences to ambitious international performances.

At the core of IMPULSE! is supporting the creation and circulation of European works and artists. The project investigates concrete touring network structures in the form of a touring pilot programme for the three festival partners.

Increasing international performing opportunities for puppetry and visual theatre artists and building festival networks

The project seeks to directly increase international performing opportunities for artists in the field of puppetry and visual theatre in Finland, Lithuania and Portugal. The project pilots a joint touring structure between three festivals / organisations in three countries, providing new performance opportunities for altogether six pieces (two from each country).

During the project, around 24 artists with little or no international experience will be touring and performing abroad. The touring artists will also participate in in-person networking events during the festivals which are focused on bringing presenters and artists from all three countries together and to facilitate the right works and artists finding the right presenters.

Developing sustainable touring practices

The second objective of the IMPULSE! project is to develop touring practices that are sustainable for the artist, the organisation, and the environment. This means several things, but at minimum;

  • Avoiding flying whenever feasible, even if it were the most cost-effective means of travel. When traveling by plane, prioritising flight & train combinations, even if they might be more costly.

  • Avoiding one-off performances and seeking whenever possible to collaborate with others.

  • Presenters in the country or region to combine forces.

  • Budgeting sufficient funds to cover appropriate performance fees and travel costs for the artists.

  • Linking foreign artists’ visits to the local artistic scene and context: providing opportunities for meeting and exchanging ideas.

These objectives will be implemented during the project. All visiting performances will be presented at least twice at host festivals, and each artist group will stay in the country for a short residency. All relevant costs will be covered by the organiser and correct fees paid to the artists.

In 2023 and 2024 three performances per year - one from each of the project partner countries - will be selected by the project working group to perform at one partner festival. Each of these companies / artist groups will also spend a week in residency before the festival, with the purpose of getting to know and exchanging ideas with the local field (artists, presenters) and presenting their own on-going work in a suitable form (workshop, talk, demo, etc).

This strand of the project focuses on learning-by-doing: the long-term objective for the project is to create an active, expanding network of partners in the field of visual theatre and puppetry who share the same priorities to create joint touring and visiting possibilities across borders.

Professional development

There is a clear need for more international collaboration both in terms of more touring and performing possibilities, as well as in the interest of exposing artists to new colleagues, ways of thinking and aesthetic concepts to push the field creatively further.

Building professional and artistic capacity through international exchange.

IMPULSE! seeks to increase contact and exchange of ideas between puppetry and visual theatre professionals in Portugal, Finland, and Lithuania. This provides opportunities of professional development for artists who otherwise would be more limited by the small-scale national scope and lack of further training opportunities.

One of the main components of the project is the master class programme: in connection with each festival, the hosting organisation organises one master class on a certain topic for puppetry professionals. The master classes will be lead by experienced artists with special expertise in a specific topic.

Furthermore, the artists staying in the short residency of the touring programme will be expected to both share their own creative vision and artistic practice with local colleagues (workshops, discussions, etc.) as well as to benefit from their own experience and new contacts in the same way.

Hemed seminars between producers, presenters, and artists will be carried out using digital platforms. These events are not exclusive to those participating in other strands of the project. Themes for these seminars are:

  • Practices for sustainable touring

  • Digital means for international touring and networks

  • European audiences and the future of visual theatre

  • Live conclusion seminar: towards a more networked future for puppetry and visual theatre?

These one-day seminars will be held entirely online. They consist of a panel discussion with relevant expert speakers, a keynote talk from an experienced professional, and a networking session (with pre-registration) in small groups of artists and presenters. The speakers and sub-topics for the seminars will be selected in the consortium’s joint meetings, but the main organisational responsibility for the seminars will be with the lead partner and project coordinator.

These seminars focus on both theoretical and practical matters, allowing a large number of professionals in puppetry and visual theatre to exchange knowledge on these very topical issues. The keynotes and panel discussions will be made available on the project website, providing new insights for all interested parties.

Master classes

In the third project strand, each partner hosts one master class on a certain topic for puppetry professionals in 2023. The events will be organized in connection with the partner festivals. The first 1-2 days of the Master Class will be hosted online and are open for all European freelance artists. Following the online session, another two days of workshop will be held live in the host country. The teachers for the master classes will be selected in the consortium’s joint meetings.

The two-part master class provides space for in-depth thinking and doing, and most of all, sharing practices, in a way that is both intense and intimate and more widely available and open to discussion and exchange for artists from very different countries and backgrounds.