feed Ljubljana Festival and Batumi MusicFest presented their 2016 programmes in Brussels

Photo Gallery

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SoNoRo Festival

Quote of the Week

“The mission of a festival should be to educate its partners to promote the important role arts and culture play in our societies!”

Ruta Prusiviciene, General Director of Vilnius Festival, in the framework of the 7th Brussels Debate

Varna, 2009

«Car le vrai rôle d'un festival est d'aider les artistes à oser, à entreprendre des projets...»

Bernard Faivre d'Arcier, former director of Festival d’Avignon
and Chairman of Les Biennales de Lyon, France

European Atelier for Young Festival Managers 2009

“Festivals as a real ceremony for research in art”

From 26 April to 3 May 2009, the European Festivals Association (EFA) organised the second edition of the European Atelier for Young Festival Managers in Varna (Bulgaria). 35 participants from 21 countries - Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States - spent an inspiring week at the Black Sea. The invaluable networking opportunities enabled participants to develop fresh ideas, invent original projects and build a strong and deep network which might last a lifetime!

the first atelier group picture

“The opportunity to meet with other festival managers from throughout Europe, to exchange ideas and experiences and initiate conversations, is an invaluable and rare one.”

Emily Thomas, Watch This Space Festival, London
Participant of the 2nd Atelier

Varna - The hosting city

The Atelier was hosted by the Varna Summer International Music Festival and organised in partnership with the Varna Municipality at the Festival and Congress Centre.

With common borders with Romania, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece and Turkey and closely linked to Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia sea, Varna offered an inspiring framework for Atelier participants to reflect on the place of festivals, arts and culture in society.

The week - An intense working agenda

The intense week included a variety of formats: the Opening Day, the Introductory Day, two Workshop Days, the Papers Discussion Day, the Round-up Day and the Closing Day. Each evening, participants and presenters were taken to different cultural venues in Varna such as the Drama Theater, the Puppet Theater, the Art Gallery and the Archeological Museum, where the evening lectures sessions took place.

the first atelier group picture

“The very particular situation of the European Festivals Association gives us an essential role in the passing on of knowledge of the festival business: knowledge about the arts, artists and festival formulas.”

Darko Brlek, EFA President

Invaluable guidance throughout the week - The Mentors

The Atelier opened on Sunday 26 April 2009 with a panel discussion on “Themes and Expectations for the Atelier” between the four Atelier Mentors. They guided the participants throughout the week and shared with them their rich and various experience: Hugo De Greef (General Director of Flagey Art Center and Former Secretary General of EFA, Belgium), Bernard Faivre d’Arcier (Former Director of Avignon Festival and Chairman of Les Biennales de Lyon, France), Rose Fenton (International Producer and Advisor, and Co-founder of London International Festival of Theatre, UK) and Nele Hertling (Member of the Strategy Group “A Soul for Europe”, Germany).

Innumerous networking opportunities - Participants from 21 countries

On the Introductory Day, each participant had the opportunity to present his/herself to the group with focus on personal relationship with the world of festivals and involvement in the festival making and programming.

The group of 35 participants was a balanced mixture of festival managers from different backgrounds: some more experienced and some just beginning in the field of art management and programming; some from rather established festivals and some from new ones; some coming from the management field and some from the artistic one. But all of them were united in their pursuit of implementing an excellent artistic festival.

Generous guidance and inspiring insight - 11 presenters

Different presenters jointed the group throughout the week to contribute to the Atelier. They were invited to reflect on the essential significance and value of festivals as platforms with a strong meaning for the art, the artists and their place in the society, as well as the role of instruments such as communication, production or budget in achieving this main purpose.

Presenters came from different continents - Europe, America and Australia - and from different art fields - music, dance and theatre. They included: Robyn Archer (Singer, Artistic Director of Light in Winter Festival, Australia), Darko Brlek (EFA President and Artistic and General Director of Ljubljana Festival, Slovenia), Agnes Havas (Founder and General Director of Opera Competition and Festival with Mezzo Television, Hungary), Tzvetelina Iossifova (Co-Director of The Red House Centre for Culture and Debate, Bulgaria), Gundega Laivina (Programming Director of International Festival of Contemporary Theatre Homo Novus, Latvia), Jonathan Mills (Director and Chief Executive of Edinburgh International Festival, UK), Mark Russell (Director of Under The radar Festival, USA), Marie-Agnès Sevestre (Director of Festival des Francophonies en Limousin, France) and Galin Stoev (Stage director of Company Fingerprint, Belgium/Bulgaria). Download their biographies at the bottom of this page.

In-depth discussions - The different formats of the Atelier

On the two Workshop Days, participants were split into three working groups chaired by presenters to learn from case studies focusing on the programming aspect. In each working group, an Atelier Mentor was present in order to follow the daily work of the group, encourage links between the three presenters’ interventions, put similarities and contradictions in the spotlight, and help to develop conclusions.

On the Paper Discussion Day, participants were organised into yet smaller groups for a detailed presentation of their Paper they were asked to prepare before the Atelier - “On the way toward working for or implementing an excellent festival” - with feedbacks and comments by the presenters. On the Round-up Day, participants were invited to formulate a quote, a short sentence or a bright idea linked to the outputs of the week which were gathered and split into small thematic groups for further discussions between participants and presenters.

Fruitful results - The Certificate Ceremony and beyond

The Closing Day brought up many conclusions and impressions on the Atelier. Positive reactions on the necessity of such a programme were asserted. A Certificate Ceremony concluded the week’s intense work.

The Atelier offered a great training opportunity and promoted in-depth reflections on festival-related subjects. Participants had the opportunity to meet their expectations by deepening and broadening their knowledge and skills on festivals programming and management, learning from different festival approaches and models and getting inspired by presenters. The week enabled them to step back from their own work and take some distance to evaluate it.

Connections among participants enabled a dynamic network to emerge during the week. The informal and friendly atmosphere made participants enthusiastic, passionate and motivated about their mission as creators of new artists and art, viewing the festivals as “a real ceremony for research in art”.

opening session quotes of the week session

““The Atelier provided a unique opportunity to meet young colleagues and eminent festival directors to enhance my knowledge. It was also a great source of new information in the field of festival management.”

Aleksandra Delic, BITEF Festival, Belgrade, participant of the 2nd Atelier

Documents related to the 2nd European Atelier

Atelier Documents

News & Press Release


Application Form

About the 1st Atelier

The 1st edition of the Atelier took place in Görlitz, Germany, from May 15 to May 21, 2006. It witnessed a participation of thirty-three motivated young participants with widely diverse cultural and professional backgrounds - from students in arts management to young managers working for large established organisations to beginning curators running their own innovative international festivals from twenty different countries on three continents. To find out more and access all documents produced, visit the page dedicated to the 1st edition of the Atelier

European Festivals Association (EFA)
Kleine Gentstraat 46, B-9051 Gent, Belgium
T: +32 9 241 8080 F: +32 9 241 8089 -