Towards sustainable networking
Katja Sonnemann has agreed to be one of the mentors on TINFO Theatre Info Finland's MOTI programme. Running over three years, the programme aims to generate new models of artistic development to attract new theatre audiences and promote longer production life cycles.
In October 2019, TINFO got in touch with Katja to ask her three quick questions.
What’s it like working with Finnish artists/practitioners?
It was a very good experience working with Oblivia. I cannot compare a lot to many other countries as I mostly work with German artists but in general I would say the main questions and concerns are not so different for artists in other European countries. Perhaps the question of an international network is more urgent in Finland.
Now that you’ve seen your mentees at work and may even have had the chance to explore the Finnish performing arts scene more widely, could you share some of your thoughts and observations with us?
I have the impression that there is a great desire for international networking – which was also the main focus of our work together – but that from a Finnish perspective it may present a greater challenge than for fellow artists in other European countries. The reasons for this are certainly numerous and I can only grasp some of them. But I suppose that on the one hand the geographical location and on the other hand the high costs of labour and living present a challenge for international work.
Finnish theatre is not very present internationally, perhaps it would be necessary to promote a greater international visibility of Finnish theatre artists. Moreover, longer-term structural support of companies would be helpful for sustainable networking.
When you’re acting as a mentor, you of course always tailor your approach to the needs of each individual mentee/artist. What would you say are the three most important skills or tools for a mentor working in the performing arts sector?
In my understanding, the most important thing is curiosity. I consider listening and trying to understand to be the decisive qualities of a mentor. Asking questions that challenge the mentee's perspective, methods that make it possible to trace his or her basic values and drives for artistic work are important. In doing so, a mentor can also offer his or her own experiences and thus set new impulses.
Katja Sonnemann is a freelance producer, mentor, consultant and lecturer.
She studied Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen and worked as head of artistic planning at Schaubühne and at Gorki Theater, was head of artistic production at Theater der Welt 2015 in Stuttgart and freelance producer with Rimini Protokoll.
From 2012 to 2017 she was company manager of andcompany&Co. and since 2013 she is part of the agency Wilson*Borles Arts Management. In 2017, she initiated and conceived the AKADEMIE for Performing Arts Producers of the Alliance of International Production Houses which was implemented for the first time in 2018.