Fair practices are a recurring theme in the operations of BUDA. The Kortrijk arts centre is part of The Coalition and has endorsed initiatives such as Engagement Arts and the Charter for the Performing Artist. Kristof Jonckheere, director of BUDA, puts the artist at the centre of each collaboration.
“BUDA is one big toolbox for artists. We offer some 70 residencies per year. We have 5 studios and 2 theatres at our disposal. We have technicians, and there is an artistic and logistics point of contact. There are 17 residency rooms, there is a committed test audience, there are various feedback formats, a photographer, an extensive network, and so on: all instruments that we can use to help artists. Our focus is entirely on their needs. Each conversation with the artist begins with the question: what can we do for you? Not only: what do you want to create? But also: how do you want to work? For us, anything is possible. Do you want a table and chair for two months to write in complete isolation? Fine. Are you coming with a large company for two weeks of final preparations and then premiere with bells and whistles at a festival? Also possible”.
Room to fail
“There are no conditions attached to a residency at BUDA. Whether a maker presents something at the end or not, and for whom: it’s up to him or her to decide. Our mission and task is to give artists space: not only to investigate, create, experiment and/or present, but also to fail. We write down many of these commitments in a letter of intent that the artist includes in his subsidy file. This is a contractual commitment from BUDA to the artist. It covers aspects ranging from technical requirements, catering, to agreements about overnight accommodations or the possibility to present. Most residents do not request remuneration and view BUDA’s input in time, space and tools as a very valuable contribution. Nevertheless, we think it important to obtain an overview of everyone’s payment. Which is why we conducted a wage survey last year, the results of which we hope to analyse this year”.
“BUDA also acts as a coproducer some 10 to 20 times a year. We offer not only a workplace and our toolbox, but also financial support to realise the creation. In the coproduction contract, we state that we assume that the artist or company remunerates fairly, i.e. according to the legal requirements. Coproductions are perfectly possible without a commitment to present. If there is such a commitment, we first determine the amount, the period and the other terms and conditions of the coproduction ourselves and indicate that the arrangements about the presentation (including a separate fee) will follow later. We do not treat such a contract lightly. As an arts organisation, you quite simply hold a dominant position vis-à-vis the artist. We need to be aware of that. We must therefore deal responsibly with that power. Which is why we are working on contracts with a greater degree of ‘reciprocity’. Not only from the institution to the artist, but in both directions as two equal parties.”