The backstages of PICelectroNIC

For the 13th edition of the PIC, we interviewed Laura Graser, performing arts programmer, who reveals the behind the scenes of the festival!
© Photo 1 : Eric Engel / Photo 2 : Mariana Dos Santos / Photo 3 : The whistler

The weekend of April 20th and 21st heralds the much-anticipated return of the PICelectroNIC festival, a cherished fixture in Rotondes’ calendar. As the event marks its 13th year, Laura Graser, our head of performing arts programme, shares behind-the-scenes insights, tracing the event’s evolution and offering a treasure trove of anecdotes for the most inquisitive minds.

You and your team from the Performing Arts department have been organising PICelectroNIC, in conjunction with the Contemporary Music and Visual Arts departments, since 2009. Could you shed more light on this standout event?

Now in its 13th year, the PICelectroNIC continues to resonate with audiences. Notably innovative for Luxembourg, the event’s unique focus on families, coupled with a diverse and pioneering artistic ethos, sets it apart. The subtitle – Festival for headbanging kids and grooving parents – aptly coined by my colleague Marc Hauser, encapsulates the essence of our endeavour: ensuring that every family member finds delight within its embrace!While the line-up evolves from year to year, certain hallmark activities persist as emblematic features of PICelectroNIC. Take, for instance, Pimp my doudou, conceived by a creative local resident with a penchant for sewing, as well as the Jeu de piste scavenger hunt and the Sieste musicale. Each year, these favourites are reimagined with different artists at the helm. In recent times, the addition of the Concert dessiné has stirred excitement, featuring an illustrator tasked with capturing the essence of live performances through art. This year, it’s Viktoria Mladenovski who’s taken up the challenge. She’s also currently spending quite a bit of time at Rotondes, engrossed in a special project… But the details will have to wait until the release of the upcoming season’s programme! 

PICelectroNIC is synonymous with whimsical installations, vibrant concerts, and a plethora of interactive workshops, all woven around an annual theme. Last year’s focus was on the world of construction, while this year, sustainable mobility takes centre stage!

Let’s delve deeper into the inner workings of PICelectroNIC. How do you tackle the logistical and organisational hurdles of staging such a large-scale event?

It’s a monumental task for the entire team! From programming to execution, it’s a constant race against the clock. Crafting a comprehensive agenda that aligns with audience expectations, reflects the festival’s identity, and meets deadlines is no small feat.

Behind the scenes of an event of such a scale, it’s important to acknowledge the full commitment of our entire team. From communications and technical preparations to programming and welcoming the public on-the-day, every corner of the house is engaged. However, managing the on-site crowd flow can be a challenge, with uncertainty around attendance numbers and the unpredictable weather. We rely on the flexibility and enthusiasm of our audience, who consistently show their appreciation for being part of the experience!

We maintain a constant watch throughout the year to identify potential artists, always keeping an eye out for ideas and proposals that could be a good fit for PIC. Sometimes, we even encourage artists who aren’t used to performing for family audiences to give it a shot, resulting in some truly unforgettable moments. For instance, this year we’re thrilled to host Ouai Stéphane, who will be performing his inaugural family concert at Rotondes. It’s an exciting addition to our programme!

PICelectroNIC is known for its delightfully quirky and groundbreaking performances! Could you share a standout collaboration from one of the editions?

I have a penchant for the truly unusual and surprising. And showcasing local talent adds an extra layer of enjoyment! One installation that springs to mind was truly exceptional. Set up

on the Parvis, it featured a genuine duck fishing stall, complete with storyteller Betsy Dentzer and a musician. Each duck had a letter, and depending on the letter that was caught’, the storyteller and the musician improvised a melody and a story. It was an incredibly inventive and participatory concept that the attendees really loved.

And, naturally, the concerts where the entire audience is standing leave an indelible impression!

What’s the secret to staying innovative from one edition to the next and adapting to the audience’s expectations?

The answer is to continually set higher ambitions, relentlessly pursue originality, and make PIC a true reflection of Rotondes’ artistic identity. We always inject our unique touch! Furthermore, we have a loyal following of families who return to PIC year after year. Therefore, it’s essential to cater to them and to the growing children. We strive to offer something for every taste and age group!

With live performances, immersive soundscapes and captivating visual spectacles on offer, PIC has an array of surprises in store. But how do you ensure smooth coordination of these different elements?

Adapting to the various working styles of different departments, keeping track of everyone’s schedules, and holding regular brainstorming sessions and meetings are key. Ultimately, it’s about everyone stepping out of their usual routines and finding a working model that suits all involved. It’s a true team effort!

How does audience involvement factor into the event? Are there any unique initiatives or planned interactions aimed at enhancing their engagement?

Throughout the weekend, attendees can take part in numerous hands-on workshops where they can create a variety of items, from their own tattoos to decorative pieces for their bikes, for instance. For youngsters aged 8 to 12, there’s also the Museklabo. During PICelectroNIC, participants will have the chance to showcase their final projects on stage. They won’t just be spectators, but fully-fledged festival artists.

In essence, PIC is a truly participatory event where passive observation is not the norm!