Ahead of Avant Première Music + Media Market Berlin on 22-26 February, IMZ secretary general Katharina Jeschke tells IAM what to expect from this year’s edition. Interview by Andrew Anderson.
This interview appeared in the February 2020 print edition of International Arts Manager.
IAM: What new industry needs have you heard about in the last 12 months, and how are you meeting those needs?
Katharina Jeschke: As the global business network for more than 150 member organisations, we connect the creators of the performing arts with the audiovisual branches. The highlight of our networking activities is of course Avant Première, but it is only one of the many IMZ activities. The IMZ is committed to the professionalisation of the sector.
We host the IMZ Academy, a masterclass series where expert speakers provide professionals with necessary skills through real-life examples. This year we focus on the opportunities and challenges that the digital age and new media pose for opera houses, higher music education institutions, and the performing arts film industry.
Staying on the pulse is deeply embedded in all IMZ activities. In 2019, a new partnership was brought to life with FEDORA through the FEDORA Digital Prize, which rewards new ways of artistic expression and in which the IMZ serves as expert partner in the competition process.
And last but not least, the IMZ contributes to music film festivals in cities all across the world, such as Vienna, Yekaterinburg, Harbin and Brno in order to reach new audiences.
IAM: What are the key events delegates should attend?
KJ: At the Broadcaster Lightning Talks on 24 February NHK, EBS Korea and Bayerischer Rundfunk will share their future acquisition strategies for cultural content. Elsewhere the One-on-One Expert Sessions on 26 February are a great way to start speed-dating with senior executives and leading figures in the pop music film industry.
All in all, get ready to mingle with more than 600 participants at one of our many networking events. For those looking to meet the stars, join us at the Opening Ceremony on 23 February with acclaimed violinist Yury Revich or come to C Major Entertainment’s Special Presentation and meet legendary German singer Max Raabe on 25 February.
IAM: Give us the lowdown on this year’s innovation day.
KJ: At Avant Première 2020 we will dedicate a full day to the latest technologies for the arts: Fraunhofer IIS will showcase an immersive/interactive sound system for TV, streaming and VR devices which participants can experience live. The Vienna Boys Choir will present a unique programme based on brain research that uses virtual as well as augmented reality to improve singing teaching, and Japanese broadcaster NHK will give us a glimpse of the latest productions in classical music in 8K definition together with Unitel.
IAM: IMZ has launched a number of new partnerships with other festivals and organisations in the last few editions (such as the Sunny Side of the Doc festival). What is the thinking behind this, and can we expect more partnerships like this at Avant Première in the future?
KJ: For the first time in 2019, we joined forces with Sunny Side of the Doc and hosted a joint pitching session for documentaries, which was very well received. The challenges of the global and digital age make it necessary to also think beyond the performing arts film industry and to integrate a cross-sectoral mindset into our activities. In order to do this, we keep strengthening our bonds with our current partners and engage in cooperations with new partners to stay on the pulse of time, for instance in the fields of technology and new business models. So yes, you can expect new partnerships in the future!
IAM: What industry development has excited you the most / inspired you the most over the past 12 months?
KJ: On the one hand, the IMZ has engaged in multiple conversations with partners, member organisations and experts to learn how to best reap the benefits of the digital age for the performing arts film industry. On the other hand, the IMZ is convinced that audiovisual media provides a broader audience with access to the performing arts. Therefore, it makes us proud to contribute to music film festivals worldwide, attracting audiences of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds.
IAM: What’s the biggest challenge of organising such a huge showcase – and how do you and your team meet that challenge?
KJ: We are committed to delivering a programme that adjusts to the specific needs of the industry. For this, we listen to what our member organisations and the industry trends tell us. Then we develop a conference programme to meet those needs. This can be challenging considering the fact that Avant Première takes place in Berlin while the IMZ is based in Vienna. However, we are a strong team of 10 people who are dedicated to delivering the best experience possible.
IAM: What’s the biggest difference between this year’s event and Avant Première five years ago?
KJ: Firstly, the number of participants has tripled since Avant Première 2015. And secondly, as I mentioned before, Avant Première keeps strengthening its bonds with new and existing partners. Our cooperation with the European Film Market (EFM) has grown: not only can Avant Première participants showcase their films at EFM at reduced rates, but also this year we will host a joint programme on 26 February at Avant Première.
IAM: Finally, any predictions on what will be the changes five years from now?
KJ: Our increasingly digital way of life, the growing significance of new media, and the changing consumption patterns in general, all call for new ways of thinking – which is why it is more important than ever to think outside of the box, to make cross-sector collaborative efforts and to engage with further industries to harness synergies. I can’t make direct predictions, but I do know that the IMZ’s work will be more important than ever before.