Common Ground: BAFA Conference for Festivals to take place in November in Edinburgh

17 October 2013

Under the title Common Ground, this peripatetic annual event of the British Arts and Science Festivals Association (BAFA) which has recently visited Liverpool, Buxton, Leicester and Brighton and last year was in London, is a two day conference (7-8 November 2013, Edinburgh, UK) with a programme designed for everyone involved in the festival sector. Whether you are a volunteer running a regional weekend festival, on the full time staff of a national festival team or a consultant providing expert advice – you will find something of interest, something of value – and you don’t need to be a BAFA Member to attend.

What does ‘Common Ground’ mean?

The overarching focus will be:

  • on the common ground between festivals - regardless of size or location or genre,
  • on the cultural common ground between Scotland and the other UK nations, and ultimately
  • on the common ground between every delegate.

It’s not all serious talk either, the speakers programme is mixed up with a hugely varied line-up of live performance (in brief 5 min bite sized pieces), plenty of time to network, the BAFA Awards ceremony and not forgetting – the conference party.

What’s in the programme?

Timed to begin later than usual on Thursday 7 November to better facilitate long distance travel, this full days programme is hinged around two key note sessions.

The Conference Debate will be looking at the question: ‘What is the point of festivals?’

Bringing together comments from a social media campaign run prior to conference, an international panel drawn from both festivals and the wider cultural sector – will bring fresh analysis to this question – with your input. Follow BAFA on Twitter to have your say: and look out for the hashtag: #thepointoffestivals to participate.

The Conference Forum ‘Culture Shock’ will move on to investigate issues of ‘place’.

Can you parachute a festival into a community? What is the impact on the existing cultural landscape of major sporting events? Is sustainability only possible via natural growth? Once again an international panel with competing views will lead the debate.

Interwoven around these two key Conference Conversations will be a wide variety of ‘how to’ sessions run by leading professionals and covering subjects including: micro videos, staff development and internships, EU funding, family audience development, volunteer run festivals, building a social sustainability toolkit, stakeholder mapping and new media: new research tools. Two main forums will focus on ‘arts and science’ and ‘arts and philanthropy’.

Day Two is anchored with the final conference conversation, the Conference Symposium: ‘The Arts and Politics: Two worlds collide?’ Providing a strong endnote to the conference this debate will dissect this uneasy relationship – necessary for both sides – but at what cost?

Further round table topics will include: inclusivity, new programming initiatives, new media: blogging and emerging marketing trends. These break-out sessions are specifically designed to be interactive and nearer conference invitations to participate will be sent out to delegates. The forum topic will be ‘cultural connections’ – looking at the wider festival landscape.

More information on the BAFA website!