EFA’s 2013 CAMM in Belgrade: fruitful exchanges, new collaborations, a lot of inspiration

22 March 2013

The 2013 Collective and Affiliate Members’ Meeting (CAMM) of the European Festivals Association (EFA) took place from 15-18 March 2013 in Belgrade/Serbia and was hosted by the Serbian Festivals Association (SEFA). It is the key gathering for EFA’s 16 national festival associations and European cultural networks – representing altogether more than 2000 festivals and events organisations all over Europe. The EFA delegation met some 30 representatives from the region – SEFA members and partners, all key actors in the cultural sector of Balkan countries including Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Montenegro. It was also the occasion for the EFA Board to hold its first meeting in 2013. The gathering resulted in new collaboration opportunities, synergies for future joint projects have been identified, and all participants left with fresh ideas. The 3-day programme also offered a rich insight into the artistic and cultural life of Belgrade. The gathering was official opened on 15 March with a reception at the City Hall of Belgrade. Representatives were addressed by Miroslav Tasić, State Secretary, Republic of Serbia – Ministry of Culture and Information; Vesna Marjanović, Parliament of the Republic of Serbia, Chairwoman of the Committee for Culture; Adriano Martins, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to Serbia; Katarina Živanović, City of Belgrade Secretary for Culture; Darko Brlek, EFA President; and Biljana Zdravković, SEFA President. A special highlight was a musical moment offered by guitarist Edin Karamazov. Biljana Zdravković stressed: “2013 is a year that looks ahead to what we hope will be a recovery of the financial challenge that hit many countries heavily and brought up critical voices on the EU integration process. At the same time, the claims for more Europe, for a joint narrative for Europe, joint actions, and a better understanding of why festivals matter, become louder. We are honoured to receive the EFA members in Belgrade and to be able to share the vibrant artistic life of Belgrade and the region with our European colleagues.” Miroslav Tasić said: “We are eager to develop multiculturalism in Serbia and to bring together modern artistic expression from Serbia and abroad. We want to contribute to a Europe that is a Union of cultures.” Vesna Marjanović expressed her support of SEFA’s engagement: “We are keen to share the results of these discussions in the public hearing of the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia.” Katarina Živanović underlined the richness of festival life in Belgrade: “We have some 30 festivals in the city and the key question is how to make them sustainable and support their relevance.” Darko Brlek stressed: “There is a clear need to establish a new understanding of the power that the arts have on citizens, and to develop a new value system that addresses the impact of the arts in public space, a vocabulary that goes beyond the economic impact. We can only do this together, united in a collective effort.” Throughout the different meetings, participants discussed how national festival associations can contribute to this understanding. Delegates explored common concerns, such as: Europe as a cultural project; the role of arts and culture in general and festivals in particular in the development of a democratic society and in economic processes; festivals and education; as well as the quest to jointly combat budget cuts that the cultural sector is facing currently all over Europe. The official gathering of EFA’s Collective and Affiliate Members’ Meeting took place on 16 March. Participants discussed how to further exploit synergies in the fields of research, communication, training and collaboration. EFA was delighted to welcome the Bulgarian Festivals Association (BFA), which acted as an observer and is eager to become a member of EFA. The EFA FestLab meeting on 17 March was the occasion for European colleagues to meet their peers from the region, as well as representatives of the media and both public and civil sectors. The FestLab is a place for festival directors, a place where visions and critical ideas, as well as opportunities for co-production and joint planning are created. More than 40 participants exchanged on their respective challenges, as well as artistic projects, festival formats, burning questions, and visions. Participants agreed on the need to discuss Europe as a cultural project, to put contemporary artistic creation central, to create political strategies including local, regional, national and European authorities, and to engage into cross-regional as well as cross-national collaborations. Jurriaan Cooiman, swissfestivals, Culturescapes Festival, said: “We must invest in artistic risk capital, in new ideas, and in new creations. Through this we can discover new formats for presentation and collaboration.” Milena Dragićević Šešić, Faculty of Drama Arts, said: “The process of finding partners in the region is still very reactive. We must work to make it a PROactive process. Participation in European-level projects and partnerships is a perfect opportunity to build the capacity of the cultural sector.” Yuriy Vulkovsky, Bulgarian Festivals Association, said: “We must discuss why and how we can fight the sigma of festivalisation.” Biljana Zdravković said: “At our last meeting with Commissioner Vassiliou in Brussels, we noticed a shift from project requests to a request for narratives. We must give decision makers new tools and explain to them why it is important that festivals exist.” To underline the importance of support to arts and culture, EFA launched a joint statement Culture Combats Cuts at the occasion of the round table with Commissioner Vassiliou – timely with discussions at EU level on the next EU Budget. Furthermore, EFA had the opportunity to present its European projects and sound the ground for collaboration opportunities in initiatives such as the Atelier for Young Festival Managers, or the A Soul for Europe project Cultural Coalition for a Citizens’ Europe. Kathrin Deventer said: “Festivals should be an inspirational framework for contemporary artistic creation and artistic risk.” To bring these discussions to life, delegates were treated with some artistic highlights by Belgrade’s festivals such as the Belgrade Music Festival (BEMUS), the Belgrade International Theatre Festival (BITEF) and the Guitar Art Festival: Bitef Dance Company opened at the Bitef Theatre on 16 March with “Yesterday”; a special SEFA showcase was presented at the Bitef Theatre hosted by Ana Sofrenović, actress, singer and performer, and featuring Anja Djordević & Band; and the Guitar Art Festival closed with a performance of the No Borders Orchestra with conductor Premil Petrovic and appearance of guitarist Edin Karamazov at the Kolarac Hall on 17 March. The No Borders Orchestra (NBO) is a collaborative project launched in 2012 by a group of well established festivals and music institutions operating within the borders of the former Yugoslavian countries. It includes some 50 brilliant young musicians from all music centers in the region, such as Ljubljana, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Podgorica, Skopje, Pristina, Belgrade and Novi Sad, and performs several new programmes at the festivals in the region of former Yugoslavia as well as in other cultural capitals of Europe. “The meeting confirmed once more the importance for EFA and its members to meet their colleagues in different regions of Europe. It is one of the richest sources for inspiration. We are looking forward to our next meeting in 2014 which will be hosted in Switzerland by swissfestivals,” concluded EFA Secretary General Kathrin Deventer. The meeting took place at the invitation of the Serbian Festivals Association (SEFA) and the Belgrade Music Festival BEMUS (produced by Jugokoncert), with the support of the City of Belgrade (Secretariat for Culture) and the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, under the patronage of Ambassador Vincent Degert, and with the support of the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia. Participants: • Kai Amberla, Finland Festivals • Zachery Bishop, European House for Culture • Darko Brlek, European Festivals Association (EFA), Ljubljana Festival • Inge Ceustermans, European Festivals Association (EFA), Atelier for Young Festival Managers • Jurriaan Cooiman, swissfestivals, Culturescapes Festival • Colm Croffy, Association of Irish Festival Events (AOIFE) • Marijana Cvetković, Stanica (Station) - Center for Contemporary Dance, Belgrade • Aleksandra Delić, BITEF, Belgrade • Naima Delaere, European Festivals Association (EFA) • Nathalie Dert, European Festivals Association (EFA) • Kathrin Deventer, European Festivals Association (EFA) • Jasna Dimitrijević, Ilija M. Kolarac Foundation, Belgrade • Vasil Dimitrov, Bulgarian Festivals Association (BFA) • Milena Dragićević Šešić, Faculty of Drama Arts, Belgrade, City of Belgrade Culture Council • Bénédicte Dumeige, France Festivals • Helmut Erdmann, European Conference of Promoters of New Music (ECPNM) • Peter Eriksson, Swedish Music Festivals • Alexandra Galabova, Bulgarian Festivals Association (BFA) • Tatjana Gerić, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia - Department for Tourism • Jan Ove Hafstad, Swedish Music Festivals • Jaromir Javurek, Janácek May International Music Festival, Czech Association of Music Festivals • Vesna Kabiljo, Belgrade International Cello Fest, Jugokoncert, Belgrade • Zdenka Kachlova, Concentus Moraviae International Music Festival • Martin Kadinov, Bulgarian Festivals Association (BFA) • Jelena Knežević, BITEF, Belgrade • Jelena Lakicević, Jugokoncert, Belgrade • Zeljka Lakićević, Jugokoncert, Belgrade • Emilia Levi, Spanish Association of Classical Music Festivals (FestClásica), Cantonigròs International Music Festival • Žarko Mirković, Montenegrin Music Center, A Tempo Festival, Podgorica • Eva Nunes, European Festivals Association (EFA) • José Luis Ocejo, Spanish Association of Classical Music Festivals (FestClásica) , Cantonigròs International Music Festival • Nevena Paunović, Cultural Contact Point Serbia, Ministry of Culture and Information of Serbia • Petar Petrov, Balkan Entertainment Company • Ruta Prusevičienė, Vilnius Festival • Živan Pujić, Festival of Alternative Music on Languages of National Minorities (FAMNAZ), Pančevo • Boško Radojković, Guitar Art Festival, Belgrade • Juliane Reissig, European Festivals Association (EFA) • Ljiljana Rogač Mijatović, Faculty of Drama Arts, Belgrade • Hermann Schnitzer, Settimane Musicali Meranesi • Vjeran Simeoni, ArtAgent, Zagreb • Maja Somborac, Jugokoncert, Belgrade • Philippe Toussaint, France Festivals • Dejan Ubović, Cultural Center Grad, Belgrade • Yuriy Vulkovsky, Bulgarian Festivals Association (BFA) • Katarina Živanović, City of Belgrade - Secretariat for Culture • Biljana Zdravković, Serbian Festivals Association (SEFA), Belgrade Music Festival BEMUS Special support to SEFA activities over the EFA weekend in Belgrade came from: • Ivan Brkljačić, International Review of Composers, Belgrade • Jelena Kajgo, BITEF Festival & Bitef Theatre • Milan Lučić, Belgrade Jazz Festival • Milan Radulović, NOMUS, Jeunesses Muscles of Novi Sad • Anja Suša, BITEF Festival Related documents and links: • Press release (14 March 2013): “Serbian Festivals Association to welcome delegation of the European Festivals Association” • Photo galleryProgramme Brochure (in Serbian and English) produced by SEFACAMM in Belgrade on Bulgarian National Television with an interview by Chairman of the BFA Board Vasil Dimitrov, BFA Executive Director Yuriy Vulkovsky (in Bulgarian, from minutes 00:06:20 to 00:15:15)