New on Festival Bytes: Through the Gate of Pomegranates (2). Back and again.

2 May 2013

Festival Life 2013. That’s the title of this conference day. Working day, to be precise. Visiting Granada is of course fun, but all participants came with a mission and everybody knows that a vibrant cultural and festival life is only there thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of those who carry the “holy festival flame”.

The plenary session with Kathrin, Elena, Pablo, Maria, Maria Angeles and Oriól was focused on culture in Spain and Granada (especially events in the Alhambra) and were an introduction to the breakout sessions: Festivals & Cultural Heritage with Nora, Festivals & Artistic Collaboration with Piotr and Festivals & Sponsoring with Sophie.

Festivals all over the world can use the cultural heritage at hand (the Alhambra, of course, sites in Beirut, Jerusalem etc.). More and more the balance between conserving (the classical museum attitude) and filling with life (the classical festival attitude) becomes a difficult exercise. Mutual respect will always be the key to solve this puzzle. This attitude is also recommended in relationships with sponsors. One shouldn’t just ask for money and one shouldn’t just want to put his logo on a festival. Sponsors can give festivals extra oxygen and festivals can help sponsors with their marketing strategy. Where festivals arise there is always a win-win, it is as simple as that.

Also on the level of artistic collaborations there is only energy to be gained. It is about humans interacting together, about having a drink and let the spirit of creativity take over. We did exactly that during the brunch on the roof of the hotel. The discussions and the networking continued. Although that only worked if you did not look to the surroundings… the view on Granada, the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountains was rather amazing.

Thanks to Café Europa (speed dating with a cup of coffee) with Biljana the conference room changed into a bee hive. The Ars Nova meeting in the afternoon (focusing on new music) was a lot calmer but nevertheless attended by many people. An important sign, knowing that outside the beauty of Granada was tempting in the midst of sun and blue skies. Henk and Frans were the charming hosts of this session. Their love for the “now” is extraordinary. And there was more love in the air. Biljana reminded us again that we shouldn’t forget why we are doing it for, we should always remember the initial love that made us festival makers. And George kept us on the positive track: if you start from the content, you will find a way to make it work.

After the session “Communicating Festivals – Communicating Europe” with Jackie we were lucky enough to visit Manuel de Falla’s house and archive where Elena showed original letters from Debussy and the manuscript of La vida breve. De Falla’s spirit was also with us when the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada played his El sombrero de tres picos and El amor brujo together with flamenco singer Marina Heredia.

During dinner at Hotel Alhambra Palace we were the kings and the sultans. Granada knows how to treat their guests. The talks continued all night long. We passed the Gate of pomegranates once more. Back and again.

(Written by Jelle Dierickx for the EFA Blog Festival Bytes)