“ISPA provides new perspectives and new knowledge”
Ragnar Berthling is one of Musikverket’s three participants in the ISPA Swedish Fellowship Programme, a three-year leadership training for performing arts producers. The programme aims to provide increased knowledge and better tools for international co-operation on the independent music scene.
Ragnar Berthling has a background as a musician and has worked at the Swedish Film Institute. He has in recent years been the director of Musikcentrum Öst, a non-profit association for professional music practitioners whose main task is to negotiate jobs for music groups and artists. He will participate in the ISPA Swedish Fellowship Programme between 2015 and 2017. The programme is funded by Musikverket and the Swedish Performing Arts Association.
How would you sum up the programme so far?
– When I started the fellowship programme, I looked forward to meeting and getting to know people in the industry from different parts of the world – it is always valuable to network. But the programme has proved to give so much more than that. Participants are at a very high professional level and I have not only gained new contacts, but also new perspectives and new knowledge.
What is the most important lesson so far?
It has been extremely valuable to establish contacts with non-western markets, such as Malaysia, and to see how much we have in common, and how many points of contact exist, not least in terms of artistic quality.
Has your participation led to any concrete initiatives?
-Right now we have begun to discuss a musical exchange between Sweden and Egypt. Furthermore, we are now in the midst of the financing phase of an EU project with five countries on gender equality, developed during the last ISPA. During the year, I have also been working on Estonian mentoring projects that came out of ISPA contacts.
How will you share your new knowledge on the independent music scene?
This is a central issue. I’m not here for my own amusement, but because we at Musikcentrum Sweden will become even better at representing the more than 500 music acts we work with and improve their ability to reach out into the world. The professional sector between music and audience in Sweden is very weak, with a lack of producers, and in particular knowledge in management, booking, promotion and audience development. We must become much better at using today’s opportunities to nurture and broaden the audience, and to communicate with it, not just when we are on stage. The ideas, knowledge and working models are already out there in the world, not least in film and theatre, but they will not come to us if we do not bring them here, and I have an opportunity to do this through ISPA.