Sweet & Tender Collaborations is first and foremost an idea for cultural production and exchange. It is an artist-driven initiative and an artistic project in constant development. Sweet and Tender consists of an international group of individual artists that does not share in a single artistic value or aesthetic, but is instead organized around an idea for artistic collaboration and production. It operates on the idea that any individual who can create the conditions for his or her own artistic production and development can also create the space for someone else. It is the idea that a network of individuals can combine their resources to realize a level of access, mobility and growth that would not otherwise be available to each artist alone. The aim of S&T collaborations is to increase the quality of the individual artistic practices as a result of the direct confrontation between self and others. In this way, a difference in content is respected, while a common and evolving practice of experimental exchange is established. We believe that this method of exchange can produce a more dynamic and fertile ground for individual and cultural development. Sweet & Tender seeks to put the power of cultural production and exchange more into the hands of artists themselves, and to push forward the public notion of performance and cultural exchange in the 21st century. The network dares autonomous and institutional structures to take a risk and become more porous and engaged through creative exchange with Sweet & Tender Collaborations.
Sweet and Tender Collaborations began as a grass-roots initiative from a group of participants in the 2006 DanceWEB program at ImPulsTanz Festival in Vienna. Over the next year, it launched a variety of small projects in Portugal, Greece, Serbia, and Germany. In August 2007, Sweet & Tender successfully completed its first annual meeting, organized in collaboration with Jean-Marc Adolphe and the Association SKITe and took place in PAF, Performing Arts Forum in France. It has received funding from many partner institutions across Europe, the Americas and Australia, and has since launched new collaborations with Festivals in France, Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Portugal and Belgium.
Outside its meetings, Sweet and Tender Collaboratons exists as a myriad of individually produced projects, and is centralized only in virtual space and through a board of facilitators. Projects can vary in form and content, from residencies and research collaborations, to specific productions, to opportunities for education and exchange. Responsibility to initiate and produce projects lies with the participating artiststhemselves, rather than with any central administration. As a completely grass-roots, artist-driven network, Sweet & Tender organizes itself in the lightest possible structure. Indeed the great majority of Sweet & Tender artists have their own structures. Thus administration is either channeled through the artists’ organizations (according to localities) or, as is especially the case for the Sweet and Tender Collaboratons / SKITe meetings, centralized in one major partner organization.