It is almost the end of my fourth month EYE exchange, which started in mid-October and ends at the end of February. The last few months have been challenging, exciting and vital to me and my career.
It was a great challenge to move and work in a new country when my grasp of the local language was limited. It meant I had to make a great effort to learn the language and make new friendships with my basic knowledge of Spanish. However, it was an aim of mine from the start to also learn Spanish at a higher level and I believe being thrown in the deep water is the best way to achieve that. Furthermore, it made me step outside my comfort zone and made me realise my strengths of self-reliance, adaptability and working with a number of people.
Working at FCAT (Festival de Cine Africano en Tarifa) for these past four months has been the most exciting time for me in my working career. The festival is heading towards its 19th edition this May and has been a catalyst in introducing African cinema in Spain. The dedication and love the team hold for the festival, African cinema and the importance of its distribution is outstanding. They have been welcoming to me, interested in my contributions, and made me feel part of the team, and not just someone random. I believe I have learned so much, especially regarding challenges that smaller art organisations face and how those challenges change overtime. Demand for African cinema has changed for the better, but at the same time because of this more dedicated film festivals have popped up and the bigger festivals have been including more African films. It has been really interesting to consider how changes affect a small organisation and with what ways can it continue throwing and overcome unexpected challenges that may arise.
This has been very vital to me and my career. I believe I have acquired knowledge that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to acquire in such a short time and that has informed me and my business plan and future projects. What I hoped to focus on before the start of the program was marketing strategies and understanding their importance. The importance of using specific marketing strategies that differ according to what you try to achieve is something I really got to grasp. Analysing data, and using these data to create a marketing strategy that will serve your organisation’s aims, is something I had no experience with beforehand. Especially for a small art organisation. Considering my business plan focuses on a business within the arts, it is vital to recognise the constant challenges that arise and figuring out ways of how to overcome them.
I would definitely recommend the EYE program and my host company. The program gives you a chance to acquire skills, life experience and friendships that will be long-lasting and grow you on a professional and personal level. It has been an especially emotional journey following the uncertain times we have faced in the past few years, and a truly rewarding experience.