Bitef Theatre
Bitef Theatre

Performing arts are now facing an upsetting and challenging situation which has raised many questions including the reflections on the need for the theatre and the position of performing arts in the society today. Between two theatre seasons - the previous one, which remained unfinished, and the new one, which we are approaching without clearly defined plans, we have found ourselves, globally and unexpectedly, in a new space. This space can be used for performative despair or for an intensive exchange of experiences and ideas.
This panel is a continuation of reflections on the role of theatre in the times of global pandemic that BITEF started during the lockdown. In the increasingly dynamic online world of performing arts, we hope to contribute in a constructive way to our future(s). The intention is to motivate all the participants in the performing arts ecosystem (decision-makers, creators of cultural policies, curators, producers, artists) to think of these questions in an agile and innovative manner, so we could make theatre possible while safe in the time of the global pandemic.

In the first part of the panel discussion, we will approach this topic from the point of view of cultural policy and wider social, political, and economic issues. We would like to present some of the creative/constructive measures that have been introduced by some of the policy bodies on local, regional and (supra)national level in Europe, and to point out at burning/urgent issues that creators of cultural policies should address as soon as possible.
The second part of the panel will be dedicated to the production and artistic models and formats that came out as a reaction to these specific conditions. We will present the examples of good practices and hopefully anticipate some new ones.


Dr Aleksandar Brkić is a scholar and lecturer in the fields of cultural/arts management and cultural policy, working at the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship (ICCE), Goldsmiths, University of London. He is also a guest lecturer in Helsinki, Casablanca and Belgrade. Brkić's area of professional practice is arts management with significant international experience as a creative producer working in the intersections of performing arts, visual arts and design. Aleksandar is currently working as a creative producer of LP Duo, a piano duo from Belgrade and his latest book, co-edited with William J. Byrnes, The Routledge Companion to Arts Management was published at the end of 2019.

Jelena Knežević is currently a PhD student in the field of Culture and Media Management at the Faculty of Drama Arts in Belgrade. She has graduated Management and Production in Theatre, Radio and Culture at the same faculty.
She has a diverse background in the fields of arts management and has worked as a freelance project manager and producer in performing, visual and community arts; in the public institution as well as at independent scene. She has been permanent collaborator of Bitef Theatre and TkH (Walking Theory) from 2004. At the moment, she holds the position of Executive Director of Bitef.


Florence Portelli, born in 1978, has been passionate about music and culture from an early age. She has been playing the piano since her childhood and excels in her practice. In addition, Florence Portelli holds a law degree from the prestigious University Paris II - Panthéon-Assas.
Mayor of the city of Taverny since 2014 (27,000 inhabitants, Val-d'Oise), re-elected in March 2020 from the first ballot, Florence Portelli, with her municipal team, makes cultural action one of the priorities of its mandate by significantly increasing the budget for this sector.
In December 2015, she was elected regional councilor for Île-de-France and sits in the majority with the president, Valérie Pécresse.
On July 5, 2016, she was elected president of the National Orchestra of Île-de-France, a prestigious formation made up of 95 musicians with 130 seasonal musical performances.
Very attached to being the voice of the territories and of her locally elected colleagues, she holds the position of vice-president of the Association of Mayors of France (AMF) alongside its president, François Baroin.
She is also rapporteur for the culture and heritage committee of the AMF.
On May 28, 2019, Florence Portelli was appointed Vice-President of the Île-de-France Region in charge of Culture, Heritage and Creation.

Kathrin Deventer is the Secretary General of the European Festivals Association (EFA). Kathrin is a Co-founder and Board member of the European House for Culture, an initiative of EFA, a member of the Strategy Group of “A Soul for Europe”, co-initiator and board member of The Festival Academy (TFA) and launched with EFA the new programme for arts festivals EFFE - Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe including its She served as a member of the Culture Committee of the EU’s “New Narrative for Europe” project. She has a special interest in culture and its role in civil society engagement and issues connected to the recognition of the importance of culture in society. She believes in a cultural Europe which emerges from responsibilities and interactions between people and organizations from all sectors in society.

Ana Ilić serves as Advisor to the Prime Minister of Serbia for creative industries and tourism and is currently leading the team for the national platform Serbia Creates. Prior to this appointment, she served as Chief of Staff to the Minister for Public Administration and Local Self-Government. For eight years, Ana was Executive Director at the Serbia Film Commission - non-profit association of the Serbian film industry that aims at developing and promoting Serbia as a competitive destination for international filmmaking. Ana has significant experience working at international business consulting companies such as Booz Allen Hamilton on USAID funded projects in the fields of local economic development, tourism and creative industries. Ana Ilić holds a BA degree in law.

Dr. Milena Dragićević Šešić, former President of University of Arts, Belgrade, Head of UNESCO Chair in Interculturalism, Art Management and Mediation. Professor of Cultural Policy & Management, Cultural and Media Studies. Board member of the European Diploma in Cultural Project Management (Bruxelles), EQ-Arts (Amsterdam). Former IUC, ENCATC and ELIA Board Member. Commandeur dans l`Ordre des Palmes Academiques 2002; first ENCATC fellowship Laureate 2019; University of Arts Laureate 2004, 2019. Guest Lecturer at numerous world universities. Published 20 books (Art & Alternative; Art & Culture of Dissent; Art management in turbulent times, etc.) and more than 250 essays, translated in 17 languages. Expert for UNESCO, European Cultural Foundation, EU, Council of Europe. Research projects Framework V, Horizon2020, COST…

Francis Peduzzi has been the Director of Le Channel, National Scene of Calais, since January 1991. Based on the architectural project by Patrick Bouchain, in 1994 Le Channel began converting the city’s former 14,000 m2 slaughterhouse into a place dedicated to cultural life. Le Channel was inaugurated in 2007, it includes a library, a restaurant and several theatres. Its activities are built on its close ties with the people, its seasonal program is multidisciplinary and marked by artistic and festive events accessible to the broader public, such as the Feux d’hiver Festival, which is held every two years from December 27 to 31.

Dubravka Vrgoč graduated from the Academy of Dramatic Art with a degree in dramaturgy and received her M.A. from the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Philosophy. She worked as a theatre critic and editor of the cultural section of the Vijesti newspaper, and wrote for cultural magazines both locally and abroad. She was a Fulbright scholar at The City University of New York and New York University. She is the founder of and since 2003 has been the artistic director of the World Theatre Festival. From 2004 to 2014 she was the director of the Zagreb Youth Theatre (ZKM). During that period the ZKM coproduced around twenty international and local productions, with numerous appearances at reputable international festivals and visits to European and global theatre companies. Dubravka Vrgoč served as the president of the European Theatre Convention for three terms. She is a recipient of the City of Zagreb Award for exceptional international presentation of Croatian theatre and the medal of the Order of the Croatian Morning Star with the face of Marko Marulić for exceptional merit in culture and its popularization in the Republic of Croatia and worldwide. She has received the Order of the Star of Italy whereby the Republic of Italy acknowledged her outstanding contribution to the promotion of friendship and cooperation, and persistent work on the development and expansion of theatre culture exchange between the two countries. Since 2014 Dubravka Vrgoč has been manager of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, which is a member of important European theatre associations and project groups, such as Opera Europe, OperaVision, and the Prospero network.

Jug Radivojević graduated from the University of Arts in Belgrade Faculty of Dramatic Arts, the Department of Theatre and Radio Directing, under Prof. Svetozar Rapajić, with the play Koštana, written by Bora Stanković and staged at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre in Belgrade. He has so far directed 118 theatre productions throughout Serbia and the region. In addition to theatre directing, he has also worked on feature and documentary films, television series, and short formats. He was the selector for the Days of Comedy festival in Jagodina (2014 and 2015). Jug Radivojević was a resident director at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre from 2000 to 2004. He worked as an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, Department of Acting from 2004 to 2017. He has been vice president of the Socialist Democratic Party of Serbia since its founding in 2009. He has been a member of the Crvena Zvezda Football Club Managing Board since 2017, and president of the Crvena Zvezda FC Foundation. Jug Radivojević has been chairman of the Bitef Board since 2018. He has been director of the Belgrade Drama Theatre since May 2019.

Marijana Cvetković, art historian. Received her M.A. in cultural management and policy in the Balkans, from the University of Arts in Belgrade and Lyon 2 University.
Cofounder of several platforms and organizations (Station - service for contemporary dance, Nomad Dance Academy, Independent Cultural Scene of Serbia Association, Magacin Cultural Center, Other Scene), and she has also launched a series of international collaboration and exchange initiatives.
Working at the University of Arts, she was involved in the founding of the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy and Management, where she has been a guest lecturer since 2009.
Marijana Cvetković has published dozens of essays and articles, and edited five books. She holds workshops and lectures on cultural policy, management in contemporary dance, regional cultural cooperation, museum management and the independent cultural scene across Europe.
She is active on the independent cultural scene in Serbia and the Balkans, and on a large number of international developmental projects whose aim is to improve working conditions for artists and cultural workers, and she is involved in the development of the contemporary dance scene in Serbia and new models of formal and informal education in culture.