2014 EFA General Assembly to take place under the motto “Rising to the Occasion”

24 February 2014

From 26 February until 1 March 2014, the General Assembly of the European Festivals Association (EFA) will be held in Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and hosted by the International Festival ”Sarajevo Winter”, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2014. This year, it will comprise the Sarajevo Conversations on 26/27 February 2014. Some 100 festival directors representing 62 festivals in 22 countries will attend the annual EFA gathering, for the first time in the Association’s 60-years history hosted in Sarajevo. EFA and the International Festival “Sarajevo Winter” take this moment as an opportunity to underline once again their joint commitment to peace and solidarity.

2014 marks a historic year: it will be 100 years after the outbreak of World War I; the 60th anniversary of the European Cultural Convention; 30 years after the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo; and 10 years after the 2004 EU enlargement, the largest single expansion of the EU. But 2014 is also the year of European elections, based on a new transparent procedure that should give the European integration a new and strong impulse.

“Today, Europe is at the crossroads to defend and define its future which continues to be a project of peace and solidarity. To keep this peace project alive our joint efforts are needed. Located in the heart of the Balkans, where many cultures, religions, and languages co-exist, Sarajevo and its history teach us that time and space are fluid; we have the opportunity to position ourselves, as citizens, our memory, awareness and perspectives, and to assume our responsibility to take an active role in shaping this space and time we live in,” said Ibrahim Spahic, Director Sarajevo Winter Festival.

“Festivals provide a space for artists to reach out to their audiences, inviting them to step out of their daily routine. In Sarajevo, we will explore in how far festivals assume their responsibility to create a free space for artistes and for audiences alike. We will explore how a festival defines its own identity, how it can trigger participation and engagement, and how it can create bridges between different actors it provides a space for,” added Darko Brlek, EFA President.

The 4-day programme invites festival directors to get to know Sarajevo, its artistic, cultural, social life, its history as well as today’s challenges. During discussion rounds, a series of interest group meetings, the formal General Assembly, meetings of The Festival Academy, as well as networking moments, participants will have the chance to exchange on what is at stake in the world of festivals.

The opening of EFA’s General Assembly takes place on 26 February at Hotel Europe in the presence of local and international cultural and political representatives, such as: Prof. Dr. Ivo Komšić, Mayor of Sarajevo; Ivica Saric, Minister of Culture of the Canton of Sarajevo; H. E. Karolos Gadis, Ambassador of Greece to B&H; Darko Brlek, EFA President; and Ibrahim Spahic, Director Sarajevo Winter Festival.

A conversation between Prof. Dr. Senadin Musabegovic, Poet, Professor at University of Sarajevo, and Nele Hertling, Member of the Strategy Group of “A Soul for Europe”, will elaborate on the creation of a Europe of citizens through one of Europe’s most valuable resources, its culture. The conversations will continue on 27 February with Nele Hertling (moderator), Jonathan May, Digital Producer London International Festival of Theatre, Amila Ramović, 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 A Soul for Europe’s Cultural Coalition for a Citizens’ Europe. Speakers will discuss the role of festivals in Europe’s future with the aim to contribute to the mission of finding a paradigm for Europe in which its citizens assume an active role and in which the importance of culture is acknowledged and better exploited.

On 28 February, the formal aspects of the Association will be discussed during the General Assembly, including elections for the EFA Board. The gathering will close with a cultural evening when the flag of EFA will be handed over to the festival hosting the EFA General Assembly in 2015.