Hello! I’m Hannah and I’m the International Development Manager for the Horizon Showcase. My job is to develop relationships with international festivals and venues who we think would be a good match for the artists in the programme, design ways to help artists and presenters get to know each other better, and support artists to make the most of the relationships they make during the showcase.

I’ve worked on and been part of many international showcases over my 15 years in the industry, and in that time I’ve noticed a few tips and truths about showcasing that I wanted to share with you:

It will not make or break your international career.
It can feel like being part of a showcase is your one and only shot at working internationally. This is not true at all! While we all know of artists whose show was picked up at a showcase and instantly toured all over the world, this is not the norm. On the whole it takes sustained time and effort to develop an international practice. So set some realistic goals and cut yourself some slack!

International relationships can take a long time to develop.
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get an immediate booking. Some international presenters book up to 3 years in advance so it may take some time between showcasing the work and presenting abroad.  Presenters attend showcases not only to see work but also to meet new artists. So it may be that they don’t book your show but they keep tabs on what you’re up to and get in touch when the right opportunity presents itself.

You are not in competition with other artists.
It can sometimes feel that there is only one opportunity that everyone is competing for, but that’s rarely the case. Presenters all have different interests, priorities, audiences and funding obligations and some work will fit with these and some won’t. Recommending another artist to a presenter rarely means that you miss out on an opportunity. The best relationships involve both sides helping each other. So if you help a presenter connect with someone, they are more likely to help you later on. Showcasing is also great way to meet other artists with similar ambitions and extend your professional network.

Be yourself.
Networking is a key part of most showcases and it can be daunting. I know of very few people (including presenters) who enjoy walking into a massive room of people they don’t know! Remember that everyone connects in different ways, so stick to what feels right and comfortable to you – maybe it’s a 1:1 meeting, maybe it’s attending a big event with a buddy or mentor. Chances are there are other people at the event who like to connect the same way too.

Focus on things you can control
You can’t control if a presenter is interested in your work and this can feel disempowering. But there are some things you can control:

  • Research the presenters who are attending. Find out what type of work they programme and what their priorities are. How might that fit with your work or practice?
  • Once you’ve identified some people, invite them to a 1:1 meeting. You don’t need to rely on group networking sessions to make a connection. Us the meetings as research to build your knowledge about what presenters are looking for and what it’s like performing in their country.
  • After the showcase, follow up with the people you meet to keep the connection going and don’t be afraid to be yourself. If you bonded over cat memes then mention it! This helps build more authentic connections that last in the long-term.

Written by Hannah Slimmon, International Development Manager

Image Imma Asher @ Club Fierce 2017 credit Manuel Vason