Over the first six months of 2015, three projects investigating curated conversation were held across different contexts in Melbourne. These projects experimented with different forms and processes specific to their desired outcomes, each engaging with a number of strategies and methods to achieve discussion that was both lively and focussed.
Basic questions (who is having the conversation? what is it about? why are they having it? why do they need to be having it?) moved each project towards a general shape and then more specific inquiry.
Central to the investigation was who was speak and how, and the relationship between “speakers” and “listeners”. How are these roles defined? How might these roles and this relationship shift over the course of the event? How formal is the divide between those who speak and those who listen? Is there a moderator or host, and if so what is their role? Should some voices be privileged over others?
As well as establishing (explicitly or not) the etiquette or “rules of engagement” specific to participating, these questions led to decisions about venue choice, spatial organisation and presence of technology and social media, all of which had a major influence not only the running of the event but on people’s level of engagement in the conversation itself.
Significantly, each of the conversation projects included the eating or sharing of food, reminding us that discussion is a social, communal activity, and of the importance of curating conversation to ensure participation by a diverse range of groups and individuals.
The Supper Club & The Now Club has been supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body; and the City of Melbourne through Arts House.
La Discorso, Convergence and The Supper Club are unified by the participation of creative producer Bek Berger, as part of an Australia Council Early Career Residency grant.