The EFFE Seal for Festival Cities and Regions

A handshake between cities, regions and their festivals

The EFFE Seal for Festival Cities and Regions is a recognition and an invitation to cities and regions that wish to associate and integrate their development and image with a strong festival, cultural - and European - commitment.

Founding cities of the EFFE Seal for Festival Cities are:

  • Belgrade (Serbia)
  • Bergen (Norway)
  • Edinburgh (UK)
  • Ghent (Belgium)
  • Krakow (Poland)
  • Leeuwarden (Netherlands)
  • Ljubljana (Slovenia)

First signatories following the initiators invitation are:

  • Aveiro (Portugal)
  • Birgu (Malta)
  • Cividale del Friuli (Italy)
  • Girona (Spain)
  • Marneuli (Georgia)
  • Peralada (Spain)
  • Sagarejo (Georgia)
  • Tartu (Estonia)
  • Varna (Bulgaria)
  • Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria)
  • Yerevan (Armenia)


Festivals and cities need to connect with each other in order to give their communities a temper, a spirit, a face, a soul.
Festivals makers and cities have the role and responsibility to enable encounters between the arts and people and between the people.

The EFFE Seal is a concrete committing engagement signed by cities for close collaboration with their festivals.


The EFFE Seal is a project developed in the frame of (a)Live Now by EFA and seven cities - Belgrade, Bergen, Edinburgh, Ghent, Krakow, Leeuwarden and Ljubljana - and their stakeholders. It is part and a concrete result of the Festival Cities Initiative. It was launched during the Arts Festivals Summit in Yerevan from 11-15 September (see our press release here).

Its major principles are the following:

  • Seal a closer collaboration between festivals and their cities
  • Support arts festivals in the cities 
  • Engage cities with their festivals in ‘conversations’ and ‘encounters’ 
  • Create structured dialogue platforms between festivals and politics

How is Europe’s festival city using the EFFE Seal? Have a look at the statement of Robert Aldridge, The Rt. Hon. Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh during the launch of the EFFE Seal at the Arts Festivals Summit in Yerevan on 13 September 2022.

EFA Members, Cities, festival makers and artists in the Arts Festivals Summit in Yerevan, 11-15 Sept


The EFFE Seal invites cities (organised and administered local territories, which may also be regions) to be recognised for their contribution and collective process with their festivals community.

It enables the development of exchanges between different layers including cities, audiences, artists, and other involved players, based on a joint action plan and a common set of values.

The Seal establishes a community of cities and their festivals that share these ambitions and features and stimulate others to join.

It is resulting in the development of an action programme on topics on which the community wants to exchange and work. Indeed, collaboration between a city and its arts festivals can unfold festivals’ potential in tackling the most important concerns of our era (climate responsibility, social inequalities, humanitarian crises, crises of representative democracy etc.).

For Robert Piaskowski, responsible for culture at the municipality of Krakow, “cities are mirrors of festivals and vice versa,” organically interdependent, providing language and awareness about diversity with the potential of accelerating processes important for cities. “We don’t believe festivals are only fireworks or some events over the year, but they are national social movements for change,” he said during the launch of the EFFE Seal in Yerevan. See the full power point presentation here.

EFFE Seal Launch during the Arts Festivals Summit 2022 in Yerevan


Cities and regions are recipients of the EFFE Seal in recognition of their achievements towards their festivals as well as in commitment to future collaborations.

Have a look at the video explainer: the Seal, for whom?

Cities are creative centres. They are the place where civil society has its chances to take responsibility, to cooperate with the political decision-makers on many different levels and to develop social innovation and active citizenship. The power of innovation and culture as a motor for dialogue with partners of various disciplines and citizens is immensely strong in a city.

The EFFE Seal will help cities associate and integrate their development and image to a strong cultural commitment.

Ragni Stoltenberg (advisor at the department of culture of Bergen) said during the launch of the EFFE Seal in Yerevan: “Cities and festivals need to connect with each other. The community will gain a soul, unparalleled experience or understanding of something greater than themselves”.

The Seal helps to present the members as festival cities, and being associated with vibrant locations and creative hubs and offers an additional dimension to the city brand. It improves then adherent cities’ cultural profiles.  Moreover, the EFFE Seal is one more anchor from cities to the common European project, granting them more visibility on the European cultural scene.

On the conceptual level, familiarity with peers in the network helps to define the city’s own festival strategy.

On a short term practical level, festival schedules, logistics and marketing can be adjusted better.

From a global perspective, festivals can be a resource in the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mateja Demšič, Secretary for Culture for the city of Ljubljana presented their view on the EFFE Seal (see her power point here).

Some of the signing cities provided concrete testimonies on what the EFFE Seal means for them and their festivals community. This is reflected in an article published by Euroactiv that you can find here.

Watch the session dedicated to the Launch of the EFFE Seal for festival Cities and Regions at the Arts Festivals Summit on 13 of September 2022 in Yerevan. (Start watching in minute 35:29 for the EFFE Seal Launch)


The moment together during the Arts Festivals Summit 2022 in Yerevan gave the 7 steering group cities (Belgrade, Bergen, Edinburgh, Ghent, Krakow, Leeuwarden and Ljubljana) a strong sense of urgency and need to go on being in touch with each other and work together on the implementation of the EFFE Seal. For this reason, a Festival Cities Steering Group is created in order to establish and implement an action plan.

After its launch during the Arts Festivals Summit 2022 in Yerevan the cities of Birgu (Malta), Cividale del Friuli (Italy) and Yerevan (Armenia) joined the founding cities and signed the EFFE Seal on that occasion. During the last Arts Festivals Summit 2023 from 23 to 26 April in Girona and Peralada, 8 new cities signed this initiative and committed with its principles: Aveiro (Portugal), Girona (Spain), Marneuli (Georgia), Peralada (Spain), Sagarejo (Georgia), Tartu (Estonia), Varna (Bulgaria) and Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria).

The next signing session is planned to take place during the Arts Festivals Summit in Usedom, Germany from 12 to 15 May 2024, hosted by Usedomer Musikfestival.

Cities are welcome to join our process at any time. During a dedicated press conference, the ones joining during these months will sign the EFFE Seal for Cities and Regions at this occasion.


If you like to know more about the EFFE Seal, please write to Ana Benavides Otero at

The EFFE Seal is part of the broader ambition of EFA to bring arts under the permanent attention of audiences worldwide. EFFE stands for Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe. The EFFE Label is the ongoing recognition scheme that rewards festivals’ engagement towards this goal. is the website that offers all information about the EFFE Label and Seal in an accessible way.

More about the EFFE Seal for Festival Cities and Regions life across Europe will be shared regularly.