Commissioner Vassiliou continues collaboration with festivals through new EU pilot project

30 January 2014

[Press Release, Brussels, 31 January 2014] On 30 January 2014, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou kicked off the work on a new pilot project for a European Platform for Festivals in the field of culture. The project was proposed by the European Festivals Association (EFA) and will run for 2014/2015 under the title EFFE – Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe. EFFE aims to be a portal for professionals and citizens to discover arts festivals in Europe. The pilot project was originally initiated by the European Parliament.

Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou stated: “The European Union continues to support festivals in all EU Member States. Investing in festivals, and thus in artists and audiences alike, is crucial to our cultural policy vision. EFA’s strong proposal was chosen because EFFE will increase citizens’ access to the arts and culture, allow artists to reach out to audiences all over Europe, and promote cultural diversity. I am glad to work with EFA on this first European Platform, a new strand in the European Commission’s new Creative Europe programme in place for 2014-2020.”

MEP Doris Pack, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education, who has strongly supported the establishment of such a pilot project in the past years, underlined: “I am delighted to see this project’s work kick off today. Through EFFE, we will be able to underline the importance of festivals as catalysts for fresh artistic vision and for political and social progress.”

EFFE’s overall aims are to increase access to Europe’s diverse festivals by providing key information on Europe’s arts and cultural festivals, and to enrich the festival landscape and European society by promoting trends in artistic excellence and innovation in festival production. “Arts and culture are at the core of EFFE’s mission, globally promoting Europe as a vibrant space for cultural diversity, citizenship, democracy, freedom and peace,” stressed Darko Brlek, President European Festivals Association.

Activities foreseen in EFFE’s work programme include, amongst others: an inclusive EFFE Festival Label granted to as many festivals as possible based on a number of criteria determined by EFFE; EFFE Festival Awards given to a selected number of festivals for excellence; a EFFE Festival Guide promoting Award and Label winners via various digital and print formats; a EFFE Festival Gala that presents the festivals receiving the Awards and Labels; and an Outreach Programme promoting and reflecting on festival trends and challenges. An International Festivals Jury of leaders from the arts, culture, business, and political sectors will steer the selection process of festivals. The application and selection process will be launched in spring. Interested festivals will find detailed information on the project online.

EFFE involves Festival Hubs which act as contact points across 28 EU Members States to connect artists, festivals, business leaders, policy-makers, and communities across Europe in this innovative project. On 29 January, Festival Hub representatives met for the first time to discuss and fine-tune the vision, reach and next steps for EFFE to ensure success at both European and national level. In the long term, EFFE aims to include also non-EU countries that formalise cooperation agreements with the European Commission in the field of culture.

EFFE was announced on the occasion of the annual round table of Commissioner Vassiliou and some 25 festival directors from all over Europe. Since 2010, this annual gathering has confirmed the importance of a continued close dialogue between festivals and the European Commission. Past meetings resulted in joint statements and actions concerning the role that arts and culture in general and festivals in particular can play in processes of democracy and integration. This year, discussions focused on collaboration between cultural organisations united in the Cultural Coalition for a Citizens’ Europe which aims at involving citizens, especially in view of the European institutional developments in 2014.