Susanne Danig is a stunning professional whose mission is “to create connections and meeting places for performing arts all offer the world and to help artists to unfold their true potential , so they shine with clarity using their innovative power to tell inspirational stories.” She has worked as a producer in the performing arts in more than 25 years and has done a large amount of international collaborations. She is a long time member of IETM and was for some years leader of the Danish ITI (International Theatre Institute).
I had the privilege to work with her in Copenhagen this September under the Development Platform project and we “clicked” well both personally and professionally, sharing a lot of knowledge, stories and new ideas.
1. Tell us what are the key directions and services of your company? How did you come up with working in this field?
The focus is to be a business coach specialized in performing arts, and I offer strategic development, mentorships and coaching. I have my own programs and courses, but I also do work for others – such as mentorships initiated by the Nordic Circle and the Danish Development Platform for Performing Arts. Organizing seminars and speaking at events is also on my plate. After producing theatre for so many years I developed a keen interest in the lives of artists, and wanted to look into how I could best support them and their artistic carriers. This caused me to intensely study both personal development tools and entrepreneurship strategies, to implement them in the work I do – because I see it as the two links most artists are missing – and being in a very hard business it is essential to have a solid mindset and clear strategies to go by.
2. What is the mission and the program areas of the Development Platform and how are you involved in it?
The Development Platform is created to support the independent performing artists and small theatres in Denmark through capacity building, and I was part of developing the framework for this organization. It works under the director Egil Bjørnsen to facilitate strategic development through individual processes, mentorships, seminars, networks meetings with other partners – in the field and outside. The platform has also created an online toolbox called UPgrade, for which I was the architect behind the international tools. I am hired to be mentoring and coaching people in specific processes and I also did the recent Artistic Entrepreneurship seminar. In this way the platform used the knowledge and competences that are already there and support exchange. Recently a large project on Audience Development has been initiated. The Platform is initiated and funded by the Danish Arts Council and the private fund Bikuben in a joint venture.
3. What is the uniqueness of your new project BIRCA and why is it important and attractive for artists?
Last year – as a natural progression of my work with artists internationally – I founded the residency place BIRCA – Bækkelund International Residency Center for Artists. My husband and I bought the place, that was already designed with 2 big rehearsal places and accommodation for 12 people. It is situated beautifully in an old farm house on the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea (big tourist place in Denmark, known for its spectacular landscapes and great food).
We run the space privately – and that means we can decide to support artists quickly if they are in need of a retreat, some safety or have agreed they want to work at. I am eager to support artists – so the place develop according to their needs – not mine, not public funding bodies. It offers a lot of peace and quietness, and great working possibilities. The artists who come here gets amazingly productive.
I also run workshops here in the field of Artistic Entrepreneurship, but also in yoga, host smaller events etc.
4. What would be your key advises for performing artists who wish to succeed professionally in today’s world of competition, business orientation and so many choices on the entertainment and cultural markets?
Number one is to get clarity. You can not work to much on getting clear on who you are and what you want to achieve. Your profile/brand and your vision is your guiding light not to get lost. When you do that right, the rest of it falls easy into place. Don’t struggle to hard doing what others do or want you to do – find your own flow. If that’s blurry for you, find a mentor/coach to help you onto the right path.
And then acquire the mindset of an entrepreneur (it is a creative one, so should fall naturally) – stay open and think ”out of the box”, always. Find new ways and follow new ideas.
5. What (or who) stays behind your professional inspiration? Do you have a “role model”?
I was lucky enough to start my professional carrier under the wings of Trevor Davies (director of Copenhagen International Theatre) – and he is still my biggest inspiration and role model. But I am also a big fan of Judith Knight and the UK based organisation Artsadmin who for the last 40 yards have worked in the independent performing arts field to support and help disseminate art work. They have developed some capacity building programs that has inspired me together with their dedication towards artists.