Joining forces, pooling strengths: 2013 Mission Statement by EFA President Darko Brlek

21 January 2013

2012 has been an important year for the European Festivals Association (EFA): EFA and its 111 member festivals celebrated 60 years of EFA’s existence. What’s more, EFA and its members demonstrated through a joint mission that they care about Europe and the world and the common challenges they are facing. In his mission statement for 2013, Darko Brlek, President of the European Festivals Association, expresses his eagerness to continue this engagement. Ljubljana, Slovenia, January 2013 Dear colleagues, 2012 proved that many festivals across Europe are more ready than ever to make a contribution to our society in which citizens are looking for coherence, meaning, togetherness and a prospect for the future. Europe has undergone many changes which affect the activities and the future of the European Festivals Association. A united Europe, so divided decades ago, is now a reality. The exchange between cultures is much easier today, and the conditions in which the members of the Association from different parts of the world work are becoming more favourable for collaboration. However, we should not overlook new challenges: in times of social turmoil, anti-democratic tendencies, climate change, and shrinking solidarity, it seems to me that we need to reconfirm our strong commitment to an open, democratic society. We need a citizens’ Europe, not just an economic or political framework for the convenience of governments, but a Europe that primarily is there to enhance the quality of life for the people who are living here. We believe that cultural activities can play a meaningful part in reaching these objectives: and I am sure every single festival agrees. That is why the European Festivals Association will continue to assume a leading role in three fields: artistic and cultural exchange and collaboration; training for the next generation of festival leaders; and dialogue with policy makers. This role can be realised thanks to an exhaustive work plan and a broad membership: we need your trust and your readiness to engage! Joining forces, pooling strengths: today, we see a trend towards collective efforts not only in the cultural field. Crowd-editing, crowd-funding, crowd-creating are all new professional practices; they are indicators of a social shift towards collective behaviour. New responsibilities emerge for everyone: each citizen should contribute to the reconstruction of the way we live together. What role is there for festivals in this scenario? Throughout 2012, the European Festivals Association and its members have celebrated together our Diamond Jubilee under the motto “EFA 60 Years On”. In a broad range of activities, concerts, debates, round tables or full festival cycles were dedicated to the anniversary. The Jubilee publication and film capture the mosaic of festivals and activities which characterise the Association. The 2012 Jubilee saw many more highlights, most recently the Atelier for Young Festival Managers in Ljubljana and the launch of EFA BOOKS 5 “Inside/Insight Festivals”. The engagement of EFA members was unprecedented. I would like to use the momentum of such an intense year, full of collaboration, to invite festivals from all over the world to engage in our 2013 activities by joining the European Festivals Association. Together with the EFA Board and the EFA Secretariat under Secretary General Kathrin Deventer, we continuously revise and improve our activities to serve the evolving needs of EFA members, festivals and of festival lovers. I am delighted to announce three main meetings in the first half of 2013, all with many side activities which make them even richer: • Festivals meet Commissioner: annual round table with European Commissioner for Culture, Ms Androulla Vassiliou in Brussels on 12 February; • EFA meets its Regions: Collective and Affiliate Members Meeting in Belgrade from 15-18 March, at the invitation of the Serbian Festivals Association; • Festivals meet Festivals: General Assembly and Conference in Granada from 18-21 April. The General Assembly and Conference in Granada takes place at the invitation of the Festival Internacional de Música y Danza de Granada: it will see a conference inviting EFA members to discuss issues at heart of the festival business; the formal General Assembly including Presidential Elections; and of course an amazing cultural programme. Furthermore, a series of group meetings will take place in Granada: a gathering of the EFA Working Group “Communicating Festivals – Communicating Europe” for communication, marketing and PR experts; an Ars Nova meeting, the joint EFA-ECPNM co-production platform for festivals active in the field of contemporary music; and the FestLab for Festival Directors, small groups of festival directors with similar festival formats, artistic ideas, and challenges, a place for artistic exchange leading to long-term joint planning. In the second part of the year, the EFA working programme has more opportunities in store: the Atelier for Young Festival Managers, the EFA training programme for the next generation of festival leaders, will take place in October 2013 in Lebanon, hosted by the Beiteddine Art Festival. In addition, a new format entitled “Festival Readings” will be launched. EFA will continue to serve as a helpdesk for festivals’ EU related questions and as a gateway to the EU institutions. And members and the broader public should not miss out on EFA BOOKS, members newsletter EFACTS, public newsletter FestFlashes, festival news on the EFA website, on the EFA blog Festival Bytes, on facebook, twitter, and YouTube etc. Let us continue our joint engagement for arts and culture, the artists and their creations. The EU has kicked off the 2013 European Year of Citizens; let us not get lost in abstract discussions but join forces in reaching out to audiences all over Europe and beyond. I am sure that festivals will continue to do so despite difficult financial situations for many festivals across Europe and the world. The EFA Secretariat and Board are always at your disposal for questions about the Association, its membership policy and benefits, and its activities. Please don’t hesitate to read more about festivals at With festive greetings and best wishes for 2013, Darko Brlek EFA President Related links: • More about EFAEFA membersHow to become a member and members benefitsEFA Activities 2013Atelier for Young Festival Managers and Atelier on facebookEFA BOOKS seriesEuropean House for CultureFestival news on the EFA websiteEFA blog Festival Bytes • EFA on facebook, twitter, and YouTubeEFA 60 Years OnJubilee publication and film