Hafnafjörður Cross-Arts Intensive Programme (2017)

The working group organised and developed two Intensive Programmes (IP) that were offered to students and faculty of the participating institutions.

These courses were based on the numerous years of collaboration between the NAIP institutions and their partners, from the beginning of the NAIP Master Programme and the first Intensive Programme held in 2010.

The theme of first the IP, held in 2017 was cross-arts collaboration. The participants included students and faculty from the fields of music, theatre and visual arts.  

Workshops & Learning Environment

The first three days of the IP included workshops, exploring different approaches and perspectives of cross-arts collaboration, led by participating faculty. The workshops offered consisted of various approaches to exploring the environment through exercises based on sound, and physical and spatial perception.

During the evenings open stage sessions were scheduled, in which all the participants were invited to offer an activity or workshop. Both students and faculty used this opportunity to introduce playful exercises and activities.

The faculty aimed at creating an environment that encouraged sharing, exploring and experimenting, as well as supporting a collaborative, non-hierarchical approach. Both faculty and students participated in the workshops.

LAB groups

On the fourth day of the IP, students were divided into LAB groups in order to start their own collaborations. Their task was to create projects that could be developed in various places in the community.

The LAB groups were a collaborative space were students could:

  • realise individual and collective ideas

  • make, experiment, develop, mix & match and develop new work

  • revise, reinterpret, regenerate and reintegrate old work

LAB group’s work could be presented at the course period or as a work in progress during the course.

Each group had a coach from the participating faculty. The coach was not an active participant in the group’s process, but provided support and guidance.


Apart from meeting in the LAB groups, students had daily meetings with a mentor and fellow students from their home institution. Mentoring also took place individually. The objectives for implementing mentoring in the programme was to create critical awareness, a sense of understanding and a conversation about the meaning, purpose and relevance of the collaborative process.

Staff meetings

Daily staff meetings served as a platform for sharing and peer-mentoring. The meetings could be used to discuss issues such as learning processes, collaboration, facilitation and support to students.

Final presentations

During the last day of the course the students presented their work. Students and teachers formed an audience for each other’s presentations.


The workshops during the course were criticised by the students for not being interdisciplinary. The course contents had too much focus on music, but for the course to fulfil its objectives of being cross-arts it is important for the disciplines to meet on equal terms. Additionally, most of the workshops were led by men. In the preparations for the next IP special care was taken to invite diverse group of faculty members, who themselves are active practitioners in the professional field of interdisciplinary art making.

Students presented their work, which were of various sorts, such as videos, installations and performances (music, theatre and multimedia). While some students took a leap towards a more collaborative, experimental approach in their projects, it was evident that others tended to stay within the comfort zones of their discipline.

In a course like this, requesting students to present the final results of their work causes a certain dilemma. If too much focus is put on a final outcome, then the students tend to focus too much on this aspect, instead of exploring the benefits of collaborative work. Therefore, we decided to revise the approach to the sharing component of the course, putting the focus on the process itself in the next IP. 

In the students’ reflections it became evident that they felt that the role of the teachers was unclear at the course. The teachers were not active participants in the LAB groups, but students were able to call for advise when needed. In the next IP we decided to try an approach where faculty would participate actively and on equal basis with students in the LAB work. This way the faculty would gain deeper understanding of the whole process through experiencing it with the students.

Reading on: Second Intensive Programme