This meeting in London was organized around the Totally Thames Festival, an event that calls attention to the role of the river Thames as territory that shaped and organized the city itself.
The Thames, Twickenham
The main objective was to discuss with all the Grundtvig partners, similar experiences within each country of events tied to the relation of river/city, and how it is possible to emphasize the role of the river as an identity element of the urban structure. The organization of events the river sites focused aspects of management, the program and the choice of the partners, be it private associations or other companies, involving wider aspects of society. All the process intended to reach audiences from different areas and activities, made present by the river specific conditions, from landscape, traffic, to resource management.
The program was divided in two main sessions: a workshop of presentations and discussion; and the participation on the Thames Festival with the organization committee on the “Great River Race”. The accommodation and the workshop were at Twickenham located by the Thames River where the boat race would also end. The area of Richmond was visited in the first day, confirming a lively old neighborhood, close to the center of London, where inhabitants can profit from the great river landscape in the romantic tradition of the eighteen century ideology.
WORKSHOP – 26th
The workshop was organized at the Orleans House, Riverside, Twickenham, where the event “Totally Thames” was described as an important key element in the city of London, including different activities, from cultural exhibitions to talks about the history of the river and of London city itself. As clearly noted the event also included the organization of sports activities to encourage the use of the river territory, and to make use of the landscape as an urban element.
Each partner also presented their project and make different approaches on its contents, explaining the kind of audience they wanted to reach. The organization of all the events around riverside/city had different and similar goals that were discussed, mainly the problems around the issue of involving different partners: public, private, academies, social institutions, artists, etc.
After the presentation of the partners, a specific presentation on Audience Development took place, dealing with the way to appeal to different audiences and ways of choosing the most interesting partners. All the partners were asked to intervene and discuss this issue as a central one within the Grundtvig topics.
Workshop – Orleans House
GREAT RIVER RACE – 27th
The race began at Millwall where the Committee boat was waiting for all the guests, and ready to start to follow the actual race. The committee organization had invited all the partners to participate on this rowing boat race that encourages participants of all ages to finish this competition. The boat trip was musically supported by a great instrumental band, the Tartuffe, who played during the time that the river race lasted.
This race ended near the Ham House where the Great River Race celebrations took place on the other side of the river from the Orleans House.
A meeting of the Grundtvig partners took place after the Race celebrations, near Ham House, to analyze the program and the next events that will be developed in this program, as the best way to evaluate all contributions.
This meeting was very useful for the several groups that organize festivals, in understanding the issues concerning the kind of audience that is expected, points of focus, stressing the idea of “the River” as a referential element within the city. The different approach to these issues, the organization model, and the choice of partners seemed to be the essential issues responsible for the success of these events. The discussion of Audience Development strategy proved to be important while improving strategies for the future cases to be development, independently from country or place.
Visit River//Cities for more info about the project. The River//Cities Platform is a partnership between cultural, environmental and political initiatives which work in their cities to interact with and develop their rivers or waterfronts as cultural spaces.