The Festivals Cities conversations

The Festival Cities Initiative organised a series of five interactive webinars between various festivals and cities networks on joint responsibilities and possibilities to think about the future of our shared public spaces, communities celebrations and cultural life with/after corona. 

The topics below have been tackled in five Friday Lunch sessions (from May to July 2020) and throw light on the ways how to put arts (and arts festivals) at the heart of cities’ recovery policies towards resilient cities. Cities and festivals present concerns, measures and challenges and the question how and why to include arts and culture as core engines of rebooting and striving societies.

© Johannes Plenio

1. Preparing festivals and cities for their position in citizens’ life

Friday, 22 May 2020, 13.30 PM (CEST)

With the contribution of: Katrine Nødtvedt (City of Bergen), Robert Piaskowski (City of Krakow), Luca Bergamo (City of Rome)
Moderated by: Sophie Detremmerie (COO - World Choir Games).

  • Arts advocacy vis-à-vis other policy areas – What is your challenge in underlining the unique contributions of the arts (and of festivals) to a city and its community? Do you see an opportunity to re-position culture and lobby for culture towards national level: how can we get a power balance shift and bring arts and culture in the heart of recovery strategies?
  • Fragility of festivals labour market in the frame of the cultural economy: What are the short and long-terms impacts in terms of employment and business survival in the festivals field you see emerging from your discussions? How can we improve the financial and organisational resilience of festivals? Financial packages and transfer schemes: where are the gaps from national level, where to fill locally?
  • The ‘rush’ to digital: opportunities for festivals and cities (complementarities with digital industries, new revenue sources, new marketing, reach out to new audiences) as well as challenges (E.g. artists not paid, exclusion, programming shift from live to online arts contrary to the specific nature of festivals).
© Hans Kremers

2. Festivals, cities and sustainable cultural tourism

Friday 5 June 2020, 13.00 PM (CEST) 

This session is co-organised with: KEA European Affairs

With presentations by: Clémentine Daubeuf (KEA) and Iulia Niculica (European Travel Commission)
Followed by a moderated conversation with: James McVeigh (Festivals Edinburgh), Stefano Dominioni (Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe), Miguel Ángel Martín Ramos (Yuste Foundation & Cultural Routes of Charles Fifth), Jelena Cvijovic (Belgrade Fortress), Dace Melbārde (MEP) 
Facilitated by: Cristina Farinha (Cultural and Creative Sector Policy Expert) and Kathrin Deventer (EFA)

How can we together make sure that cultural life takes a strong part in the future of local, national and EU’s tourism agenda and is as such financially sustained?

  • What is its future of sustainable tourism and the offer of festivals to it? How will visitors engage more with residents and local cultural offers and spread out of the ‘urban centres’?
  • How can festivals to be used by the city as role models (see use of ecological food and other sustainability policies in festivals)?
  • The Economic, environmental, social and fourth and new one: the cultural way: Green Festivals and cities.
  • What is the future mobility in and between cities: Festivals, trains, Cities.

Download here our background document for more information.

3. Contributions & responsibilities of festivals and cities towards Europe

Friday 19 June 2020, 13.00 PM (CEST) 

This session is co-organised with: A Soul for Europe in the framework of the European Festivals Association and A Soul for Europe's “Festival Cities for Europe” Initiative.

With introductions by: Nele Hertling (A Soul for Europe), Cécile Finot (Clermont-Ferrand European Capital of Culture), Airan Berg (Festival der Regionen), Monica Urian (European Commission)
Followed by break out groups 
And a reaction by: Luca Jahier (President of the European Economic and Social Committee), Volker Hassemer (Cities for Europe, A Soul for Europe), Damian Boeselager (MEP)
Facilitated by: Cristina Farinha (Cultural and Creative Sector Policy Expert) and Katherine Heid (European Economic and Social Committee)

What can we, festivals and cities together, do for Europe? How can ideas for Europe between festivals and cities be implemented?

We invite festivals and cities to connect with each other in order to give Europe a face/soul. These two players have the potential to strengthen the possibilities and willingness of citizens to become active in the future development of Europe through the creative power of art and culture. What kind of examples exist or can we come up with to raise ‘awareness’ about Europe and create an open European trans-border community? What can we propose to each other that underlies common needs: dialogue, communication, interaction, connections bottom up.

Download here our background document for more information.

4. Festivals and Cities joining forces for inclusion and well-being

Friday, 3 July 2020, 13.00 PM (CEST) 

This session is co-organised with: EUROCITIES

Welcome by: Kathrin Deventer (European Festivals Association), Julie Hervé (EUROCITIES)
With presentations by: Pier Luigi Sacco (IULM University - Milan), Bart Doucet (Culture Advisor, Department for Culture, Sports and Free Time, city of Ghent), Rarita Zbranca (Centrul Cultural Clujean)
Facilitated by: Cristina Farinha (Cultural and Creative Sector Policy Expert)

Find more info on the speakers in our background document.

If there is one conclusion from this crisis, it is that well-being of people became a value, a right, an interest and a responsibility for all: the economy, public authorities and for festivals. 

Research shows a strong impact of the arts on the well-being of people. Research also reveals the major effect of arts on values such as inclusion and social cohesion. Festivals in particular play a role through their formats and targets to tackle these two elements. Both, the inclusive city, and a city of well-being, are tasks and ‘policy domains’ of a city.

In this perspective, it is more than natural to create stronger links and actions: between cities and festivals. What are the models and the ideas we can learn from and come up with?

5. New partnerships between festivals, cities and other industries

Friday, 10 July 2020, Brussels & Krakow, 13.00 PM | Adelaide, 20.30 PM | Singapore, 19.00 PM | Edinburgh, 12.00 PM | Montreal, 7.00 AM

This session is co-organised with: Festivals Adelaide

Welcome by: Kathrin Deventer (European Festivals Association)
With presentations by: Fran Hegyi (Executive Director of the Edinburgh International Festival), Mat Schulz (Artistic Director of UNSOUND Festival in Krakow), Natalie Hennedige (Festival Director (Designate), Singapore International Festival of Arts - SIFA), Heather Croall (CEO and Artistic Director, Adelaide Fringe Festival), Nick Farkas (Vice President, Booking, Concerts and Events, evenko in Montreal)
Facilitated by: Cristina Farinha (Cultural and Creative Sector Policy Expert)

Description: COVID-19 has presented both new challenges and opportunities for the festival sector. 

With national borders closed, limited tourism will undeniably affect the visitor economy and festival audiences. Corporate sponsorship and public funding, difficult to access in the best of times, will become increasingly competitive. What’s more, the role of festivals in addressing health and well-being, improving accessibility, and supplementing arts education has changed significantly, and there are new demands on the sector that will need to be focused upon with innovation and foresight. Festivals will need to explore strategies that can unlock new potential in funding, programming, impact, and more. 

In this webinar, five representatives of the global festival sector will speak to new partnerships the festivals will seek with the well-being and philanthropy sectors, as well as the bold ideas needed to build resilience and shepherd the sector through the COVID-19 recovery process.