EFA General Assembly & Sarajevo Conversations – Sarajevo/BA, 26 February-1 March 2014

17 January 2014

The 2014 General Assembly & Sarajevo Conversations of the European Festivals Association (EFA) took place from 26-28 February in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, under the title Rising to the Occasion. It was hosted by the International Festival “Sarajevo Winter”, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2014. 100 festival directors representing 62 festivals in 22 countries met colleagues, exchanged on what is at stake in the world of festivals all over Europe and beyond, and identified festivals’ contributions to the challenges of today’s society. One of the main outcomes: the Association elected a new Board for a 3-years term under the President Darko Brlek.

The new EFA Board includes: Vice Presidents Michael Herrmann (Rheingau Musik Festival, Germany) and Massimo Mercelli (Emilia Romagna Festival, Italy), and Board members Colm Croffy (Association of Irish Festival Events, Ireland), Paul Dujardin (Centre for Fine Arts Brussels – BOZAR, Belgium), Filiz Eczacibasi Sarper (International Izmir Festival, Turkey), Peter Eriksson (Swedish Music Festivals, Sweden), Ibrahim Spahic (International Festival “Sarajevo Winter”, Bosnia and Herzegovina), Hermann Schnitzer (Settimane Musicali Meranesi / Meraner Musikwochen, Italy), Hanna Styrmisdottir (Reykjavik Arts Festival, Iceland), and Philippe Toussaint (France Festivals, France).

“The European Festivals Association stays ahead of change and new creative impulses needed for festivals, for a network, and for Europe. It is vital to retain the knowledge and experience that are the foundation of EFA, and at the same time dare to bring the network and its mission into a next phase. The new Board is eager to continue the successful work of the Association and to further EFA’s importance in the international cultural scene. We are looking forward to rising to the occasion together,” said Darko Brlek, EFA President.

Furthermore, the General Assembly welcomed two new members: the Sarajevo Music Evenings (classical music, Bosnia & Herzegovina) and the SoNoRo Festival (chamber music, Romania). EFA now represents 102 festivals, national festival associations and cultural networks from 41 countries.

The General Assembly was the concluding meeting of three days of intense exchanges about the creation of a Europe of citizens through one of Europe’s most valuable resources, its culture. The topic was explored during the Sarajevo Conversations with Prof. Dr. Senadin Musabegovic, Poet, Professor at University of Sarajevo, Nele Hertling, Member of the Strategy Group of “A Soul for Europe”, Jonathan May, Digital Producer London International Festival of Theatre, Amila Ramovic, Executive Director Sarajevo Chamber Music Festival, and Alumni of The Festival Academy’s Atelier for Young Festival Managers.

“The Sarajevo Conversations are part of the Cultural Coalition for a Citizens’ Europe of “A Soul for Europe”. Today’s challenges require different disciplines to work together. Culture can play a leading role in tackling these challenges by facilitating dialogue between citizens and politicians. Together with the new Board and all EFA members we will continue our joint mission in contributing to finding a paradigm for Europe in which its citizens assume an active role and in which the importance of culture is acknowledged and better utilised,” said Kathrin Deventer, EFA Secretary General.

EFA and the Sarajevo Winter Festival are grateful for the support of Salmir Kaplan, Minister of Culture of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Ivica Saric, Minister of Culture of the Canton of Sarajevo; Prof. Dr. Ivo Komsic, Mayor of Sarajevo; and H. E. Karolos Gadis, Ambassador of Greece to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The 2015 EFA General Assembly and Conference will take place in Ostrava, Czech Republic, at the invitation of the Janacek May International Music Festival in collaboration with the Concentus Moraviae International Music Festival of 13 Towns.