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Coracle literary residency - In 2024 the opportunity for connecting creativity is greater than ever before.

Since 2012 Kultivera has been providing a creative oasis in Tranås, an unextraordinary town of 19,000 people in the north of Småland, Sweden. For over ten years this beautiful quiet municipality between lake and forest has been the home of major international artistic exchange and collaboration and so it has become an important place, famously between somewhere and nowhere.


In 2010 Dominic Williams was coordinating a significant European funded project Coracle. A project based upon cultural and artistic exchange between Wales and Ireland and the professional development of the creative practitioners involved.  On a visit to Ireland Dominic met Colm O Ciarnain the founding director of Kultivera, they extended the concepts of the Coracle project into ‘Coracle Europe’ a more sustained international relationship between a number of arts and cultural organisations. Colm also adopted the strapline from the coracle project ‘Connecting Creativity’ and expanded it into the three central themes for the stories that Kultivera has to tell.


Connecting Creativity:

The dialogue of minds, disciplines, experiences and cultures open the way for the unexpected and/or spontaneous. Can connecting creativity between professionals, amateurs, audience and public create the experience needed to exercise art?


Time and Place:

The normal/ordinary comes from small towns and villages that make up most regions in the world. Their attitudes, thoughts and behaviours shape our daily lives. Isn’t it in such places between somewhere and nowhere that cultural heritage is created and carried, and that the artist can interpret the global through the local and use the local to create the new?


Still standing:

Repression, resistance, propaganda and expression are issues we face every day in our lives where one experiences them in relation to state, one’s neighbour or even oneself. How is it possible to be still standing despite repression and create new forms of expression?


The major tool for Kultivera’s exploration of these themes and questions is through arts residencies. In 2013 Tranås played host to Kultivera’s first residency for artists. In 2014 the first dance residency and literary residency took place and in the following decade there have been many residencies including the literary residency curated annually by Dominic.


The literary residency offers three things as priority:


Some sense of retreat to write, just write ... this is not at all prescriptive, the residents are free to continue to write something they have already started, plan a new project, take the opportunity to write something they've not had the chance to, write contemporaneous experience, place and time, whatever.


The freedom they are afforded is by relocation to this small Swedish town which they may find both alien and familiar in turn. The hope is that their practice during the residency is in some way informed or influenced by the environment in which you find themselves


While it is appreciated that writing is very often a solitary profession, It is hoped that the immersion in an international collective of writers will enable the residents to enjoy some level of intercultural exchange. That may be across national identities, intergenerational, social, writing techniques or knowledge, genre, again ... whatever.


The curatorial role is a difficult one to describe. Williams would not wish to be such an invisible facilitator that he didn't in some way incorporate his own practice but then neither is he strictly one of the residents.

As Dominic states “I am a great advocate of spontaneity, collaboration and partnership so maybe the role is to identify any commonalities that allow for those things to manifest?”


Whatever residency is, it is evolutionary and reflective of the creative personalities and outputs of the residents.


During the literary residency in 2014 a literary fringe festival was created with residents providing workshops, competing in a poetry slam, participating in public interviews and establishing the concept of pilsnerpoesi at Ban Thai, a restaurant in the town. 


In 2015 the residents provided a substantial series of creative workshops in the town’s High School organised by Peter Nyberg. Peter, the founding editor of Popular Poesi added a cast of regional and national literary performers to the international programme offered by the residents and the annual Tranås at the Fringe festival was established.


Over the next few years a programme of dance events and a film festival were introduced into Tranas at The Fringe and the festival grew into to an international arts festival with up to 100 events over nine days and including film, literary and performance arts programmes. 


Since Kultivera joined the Baltic Nordic Fringe Network in 2020 the festival has developed further. In 2023 there were over 140 events.

The relationship between the residency and festival is organic, a series of public facing events was once a fringe to the residency. In practice now, the three-week residency is a fringe to the week-long festival.

In recent years then, the residency has naturally developed into a more structured form. There are certain expectations of the residents to contribute either jointly or individually to the international literary programme in the festival. Participation in the festival becomes and intense creative focus for the middle week of the residency

However, as Colm has many times been quoted " If an artist arrives with a plan and during their stay, they strictly follow that plan ... then we have failed!"

In 2024 the opportunity for connecting creativity is greater than ever before. At the same time as the literary residents from Sweden, Argentina and Czech Republic are in Tranås there will also be three writers from Canada, four film-makers and two dancers in residence.

-Dominic Williams




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