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Open Market, a programm that took place on the last day of the Artistic Gathering in the Students Cultural Centre Fabrika, was one of the first to appear in the planning of Turning Point. The members of the EC of ASSITEJ Serbia were looking for a convenient format that supported the idea of Turning Point, a space between relaxed and formal, where newcomers and established professionals, representatives of institutions and the independent scene would meet, and a space for those who want to present their ideas and projects. The format of the market, where all people gather, wonder around, pick something that sparks their interest, and hears a lot of information, was at the former factory, and nowadays a space for culture and (alternative) art where today creative ideas are produced instead of industrial materials, seemed perfect.

One of the programmes at the Open Market was a discussion by the Association of Critics and Theatre Experts of Serbia about the state of professional criticism in theatre and performing arts for children and young people. Marina Milivojević Mađarev, professor at Academy of Art, Novi Sad, and the president of the Association invited experts employed in institutional theatres – Milena Depolo (Theatre Boško Buha, Belgrade), Mila Mašović (Little Theatre Duško Radović, Belgrade) and Bojana Ivanov Đorđević (Nationa Theatre Sterija, Vršac) to talk about their perspective on the topic: what theatres expect from critics, and how theatres and critics collaborate. 

At the other side of the round table were Milan Mađarev, professor and theatrologist and Svetislav Jovanov, dramaturg and theatre critic. They talked about the necessity of a project Reception of a TYA in Serbia. Last year, the Association applied with a project in the Ministry of Culture’s competition but unfortunately did not get the funding, which will not stop them from trying next year. Nataša Gvozdenović, a theatre journalist and critic, gave suggestions on how the project could be released. Milan and Svetislav also gave context to the topic and explained in broad strokes the past, present and potential future of criticism in TYA. Borisav Matić and Divna Stojanov, playwriter and theatre critic mostly talked about the position of critic for TYA. Borisav mentioned that people are not getting paid for their work and that critics mostly write as volunteers. Divna focused on the need for workshops for theatre critics for TYA since there is no formal education in that field.

Even though Igor Tretinjak, a professor at the Academy of Arts in Osijek (Croatia) and critic was not present at the panel, it was interesting to hear that the situation in Croatia is similar. Asked what could be a Turning Point in this field, he said: “If academies in the region wake up that could be the turning point. Academies are continuously interested in TYA, only individuals make some changes. Since the platform From the First Steps was established, academies are showing more interest in incorporating TYA in their study courses as well as collaborating with academies from the region around the same goal.”

A lot of topics were brought up: how to get funding, who reads reviews for TYA, how the impressions of the target group – children and young people, can be included in reviews, for their voices to be heard, and what could academies do better. Even though some questions are left unanswered because of the time and complexity of the theme, it is of great importance to discuss this, to meet, and to share our problems. As Marina Milivojević Mađarev said: “If we think together, if we talk with each other, it is the only way we can make things better. If the Association does not get the funding again, we will discuss the same topic next year. There is no giving up because young audiences need us, and we need them.”

Divna Stojanov is a dramaturg and playwright. She also writes theatre reviews.

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