The Future of Concept Touring

Artistic Director and CEO of LIFT, Kris Nelson, speaks about the future of Concept Touring. The first commission in LIFT's Artist Advancement series, Concept Touring brought together artists and mentors to develop concepts for international touring projects with little or no human travel.

What is the future of concept touring – was it a one off or a long-running project?

“​After hosting an online commissioning residency, this is the next phase of our Concept Touring initiative. We see Concept Touring as a set of tools to promote international collaboration with low-to-no travel. In this phase, LIFT is supporting artists as they test out the ideas they developed in our residency on full production.

This is a working research and development project for LIFT. We intend to keep finding ways for these models to inform how we work with artists and how we create new ways of working remotely and understand better all the innovations artists and producers have found over the past few years. It will definitely live on.”

How is Concept Touring influencing LIFT’s commissioning and programming going forwards?

“Every international project we do we now look at through a Concept Touring lens. We’re adding to the knowledge we’ve got. These are some of the questions we consider when exploring a new project:

  • Is there a way to add a London element or deeper collaboration to this project?
  • Who needs to travel and why?
  • What will be the benefit to audiences to have a live presence and contact from these artists?
  • What elements of the project can be reproduced here?
  • What previous experience can we adapt to this scenario?
  • What are we going to need to invent?
  • What considerations of culture do we need to make?

For example, in Գիշեր | gisher, which is a LIFT 2022 performance, the SWANA notion of ‘hosting’ is integral to the work. ”

How is Concept Touring contributing to the fight against climate change, and why is this new way of touring important?

“We’re supporting artsits to work across distances despite visa, pandemic and climate limitations. We’re demonstrating ways of commissioning ideas that can travel when people may not have to. We’re adding these kinds of practices to our overall strategy which also includes traditional touring where artists travel to London and audiences encounter artists from abroad.”

Two Concept Touring projects have been programmed for LIFT 2022. How do they demonstrate Concept Touring principles? 

“​Գիշեր | gisher takes an existing project and asks London-based artists of SWANA heritage to create and record audio responses to Giorgia Ohanesian Nardin’s words, images and movement. There’s an act of mutual hosting, Giorgia hosts London artists in the framework of their piece,Գիշեր | gisher, and in turn, local artists here host Giorgia and situate them here by creating a set of responses to their work. LIFT’s Concept Touring approach facilitates artist-to-artist connections and collaboration as opposed to simply presenting the existing work.

Radio Ghost is a project that can work in one of the world’s most universally uniform settings – a shopping centre. LIFT and ZU-UK are working together to host this interactive game in a number of London shopping centres throughout the festival. We’ve also connected the artists to opportunities in other cities, and it is slated to have a German premiere immediately after LIFT. In Concept Touring terms, LIFT is facilitating an artist-to-site collaboration where a project is developed that can fit in any shopping centre with or without the artists present. All we need are players to play the game.”