Escalator is an effective intensive program focused on the education and professionalization of people working in the cultural and creative industries in Slovakia. It consists of various parts that make it possible for the participants over the course of one year to understand the basic principles of dramaturgy, strategic planning, and functioning on the market. The program is led by international mentors who have extensive experience managing organizations in the cultural and creative industries.
In the first part of the program, participants analyze and identify their needs through in-depth interviews with mentors, based on which mentors identify their key needs and goals. They then prepare a tailor-made training program consisting of workshops, seminars, coaching, mentoring, business and strategic planning, research, and development.
- Open call
Representatives and employees of cultural and creative organizations can apply for the Escalator via an online application form. We open the call every spring. Subsequently, the applications are assessed by mentors and the director of Creative Industry Košice, Michal Hladký. The selection of the most promising candidates is then invited for a personal interview.
The interviews are conducted by mentors together with the director of Creative Industry Košice. The goal is to check the level of commitment, time possibilities, language skills of the applicants, the potential of their organization's activities, and the impact on the city in the local and international context.
Selected participants go through individual audits at the beginning of the program, the so-called "stocktakes." These are carried out by one of the mentors, and they take place at the organization's headquarters in the presence of the entire team (or online if current circumstances don't allow it). Mentors do an in-depth examination of individual organizations, the state of their management, program, and plans. Based on the audit, the participants' specific educational and networking needs are defined, and jointly, they set educational goals.
Organizations have the opportunity to have individual consultations with mentors throughout the year. They can discuss, benefit from mentoring and get advice for solving problems and challenges they are facing. During the individual sessions, participants consult their projects, intentions, ideas, dramaturgy, program, and organizational structure.
Participants participate in educational activities as a group. The topics of the workshops are determined based on individual audits and are an intersection of common needs. Since 2020, all training workshops are taking place online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They are usually held on a weekly basis at the same time. Study groups, where the participants can share their own experience on a specific topic, are also part of the program. The online training is finished by participants presenting their final presentations.
- Networking meetings
Their form depends on the grouping of organizations in the project. They serve as a platform for new ideas, projects, products, and mutual support.
Escalator is intended for individuals and organizations working in the cultural and creative industries for several years. It helps them get new impulses, professionalize their work, or break into the market.
In selecting participants, a particular account is taken of originality, creativity, ambition, and determination. The submitted projects represent activities in the management of cultural centers, performative and visual arts, urbanism, and/or design. For the first two years, only participants from Košice appeared in Escalator, but since 2015, the project's scope has expanded to the whole of Slovakia.
Escalator's mentors have extensive experience in leading cultural and creative organizations, centers, and projects. As the founders of the Olivearte Culture Agency, they help organizations across Europe develop, build capacities and set up sustainable strategies.
Paul Bogen (Cambridge, United Kingdom)
Paul began his career as an actor, comedian, DJ, and theater producer. From 1990 to 2006, he was the director of The Junction art center in Cambridge, with an annual turnover of £ 5 million. For seven years, he was an executive committee member and the president of Trans Europe Halles. He is currently the board director at Korjaamo Culture Factory, an advisory expert in the European Commission's Creative Europe program, a lecturer at St. Mary’s University, and a Royal Society of Arts member.
John "Sandy" Fitzgerald (Dublin, Ireland)
Sandy started as an actor, writer, and musician. He was one of the founders and became the director of the City Arts Centre in Dublin. He has contributed to the development of cultural industries in Ireland and abroad. He has worked at local, national, and international levels and he stood behind the Dublin Street Carnival. He is a founding member of CREATE and a member of Royal Hospital National Cultural Center. He served on the executive committee of Trans Europe Halles and led the Dublin Film Festival.
Birgitta Persson (Lund, Sweden)
Birgitta has always loved art. From 1995 to 2004, she worked at the Mejeriet cultural center as a project manager and later as the Head of Marketing. In 2004, she became the coordinator and later General Secretary of Trans Europe Halles. With her help, the organization secured substantial European funding for the international project Creative Lenses. Today, she is a board member of the Swedish theatre company Månteatern and the art residency association ARNA. She is the COO of VALUE.
The training program ends for the participants with the finalization and presentation of their strategic plans. It is up to them to use the acquired knowledge and advice in practice. In any case, the functioning of their organizations will change. They will make their decisions based on what they have learned, realized, and experienced. They will increase their network and gain new contacts, ideas, and information. Thanks to their work, cultural and creative production in Slovakia will improve, and they will spread awareness of current trends.
The program was supported using public funding by the Slovak Arts Council.