Quote of the Week
“A festival is a unique occasion for meeting different people and different cultures. Together with artists who are real masters of communication through art, a festival is a strong builder of bridges between different cultures - and even between civilizations."
Ján Figel’, former European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture, and Youth
Round Table: Festivals meet Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou
Gent, Tuesday, 03-01-2012
On 26 January 2012, Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, invited directors of major European festivals for the annual round table "Festivals meet Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou", at the initiative of the European Festivals Association (EFA). The gathering was the second round table since the Commissioner took office and continued the year standing tradition of close dialogue with the European Commission.
Since 2007, with the introduction of the European Agenda for Culture, the European Commission has been offering the sector the possibility to make its voice heard at the policy setting level. In this framework, EFA has fostered discussion about how the role of festivals in Europe and how their potential to reach out to European citizens can be harnessed. Following previous exchanges, EFA and festival directors from 16 countries handed over to Commissioner Vassiliou a proposal entitled “Europe for Festivals – Festivals for Europe”, previously presented in the European Parliament’s Culture Committee (November 2011).
Darko Brlek, EFA President and General and Artistic Director Ljubljana Festival, stated: “EFA considers it important to offer the power of festivals in shaping a European citizenship – the basis of a democratic process.”
Paul Dujardin, CEO - Artistic Director BOZAR, exemplified, that festivals offer politicians the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with citizens on an everyday basis.
Commissioner Vassiliou welcomed EFA and its contribution to the attainment of the Commission’s aims on intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity. She reminded that in times of austerity, the European Commission needs to put forward wise arguments to keep culture on the agenda, and in the budget.
One of EFA’s actions to support the financial basis of the new Creative Europe Programme is to address Ministers of Culture, Finance, Economy and External Relations at national level with a letter.
Festival directors collectively endorsed the proposal “Europe for Festivals – Festivals for Europe”. This proposal allows a rational use of limited resources to a bigger effect by focusing on a bottom-up system of collaboration and on the recognition of the artistic excellence of festivals. What’s more, it allows a maximum amount of festivals to engage in Europe and its cultural potential.
Jonathan Mills reminded: “Let us not ask what politicians can do for festivals but what together we can do for the greater good of citizens.”
The meeting was an opportunity to discuss further issues related to how the Commission’s actions in other sectors could be beneficial to the cultural sector without implying more resources but by rationalising the efficiency of the existing ones:
• Enrique Gaméz, Artistic and General Director Festival Internacional de Música y Danza de Granada, put forward a proposal for the creation of a sponsorship/patronage law at European level entitled “A new culture of giving”;
• Piñeiro Nagy, Director Estoril Festival / Estoril Music Weeks, suggested the development of a joint culture and tourism programme. Since the funds exist already and tourism engages in a number of so called “cultural activities” there is a need to improve the rational. Commissioner Vassiliou stated that this ideas could be further explored in dialogue with Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship;
• Biljana Zdravkovic, General Project Managers No Borders Orchestra, Acting Director Belgrade Music Festival and Assistant Manager Jugokonzert, underlined a cross-sectorial need of collaboration, realised in projects such as the No Borders Orchestra. In this regards, exchanges with Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, have already been kicked off.
Hosting EFA’s Jubilee Gala to celebrate the Association’s 60th anniversary in 2012, Per Boye Hansen, Director Bergen International Festival, invited participants to Bergen. “We are proud to host this historical event. In 2012, we aim to emphasise how the local, the national and the international are connected through artistic collaboration. The Jubilee Gala will demonstrate these dynamics,” stressed Mr Hansen. The Diamond Jubilee will be the moment to join forces with festivals around the world to celebrate, commemorate and in particular reflect on the present and future of arts festivals. In 2012, EFA and festivals will look at the future through the powerful glasses of artistic creation.
The first meeting with Commissioner Vassiliou took place in 2010 and was preceded by several meetings with her predecessor Jan Figel’. This dialogue with the European Commission will be continued not only in the annual round tables but also in meetings with the Commission’s services to further discuss the proposals and their implementation.
Related links and docuemnts:
• EFA press release “EFA 60 Years On: the European Festivals Association (EFA) kicks off its Diamond Jubilee at the occasion of the annual round table with Commissioner Vassiliou” (27 January 2012)
• Round table reader
• Sponsorship / Patronage law “A new culture of giving”
• List participants
• Photo Gallery
• Commission Communication “Creative Europe - A new framework programme for the cultural and creative sectors (2014-2020)”
• Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing the Creative Europe Programme and accompanying document Commission staff working paper impact assessment
• EACEA call for experts