EFFE Awards SalonBrussels, 26 September 2019

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Nele Hertling: “A festival director must support the artist”

12 March 2014

In the run-up to the Atelier for Young Festival Managers in Edinburgh from 3-10 April 2014, all presenters who will participate in the Atelier to exchange with 52 young artistic festival directors from all over the world will be introduced. One of them is Nele Hertling, Vice President of the Academy of Arts Berlin in Germany. She has participated in each Atelier edition since 2006: the Atelier GÖRLITZ 2006, the Atelier VARNA 2009, the Atelier SINGAPORE and IZMIR 2011, and the Atelier LJUBLJANA 2012.

“A festival gives you the chance to do extraordinary things. It creates an atmosphere, and supports productions that most theatres wouldn’t be able to produce. And you can really use this atmosphere to take risks and to take an audience with you because they are in a group, sharing a moment together. But as a festival director, you have to keep in mind that you must support the artist and that the artist isn’t there to support you. You are the one to enable the artist to create something,” said Nele Hertling.

Throughout her career Nele Hertling has built many collaborations, created festivals and established organisations in Europe representing turning points of changes in society at their respective times. She was the General Manager of Berlin - European Capital of Culture in 1988. One year later, she reactivated the Hebbel-Theatre in Berlin, and acted as its Artistic Director until 2003. From 2003 to 2007, she was the Head of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD.

Nele Hertling organised contemporary dance festivals in Berlin: Dance in August (1988), International Dance Festival (1999), and, together with Thomas Langhoff, she created the programme of Theater der Welt (1999). Today, she is the Vice President of the Academy of Arts in Berlin. She is a founder and member of many international associations devoted to the support and promotion of art such as the European House for Culture and “A Soul for Europe”.

Nele Hertling is convinced that changes have to happen in the hearts of the citizens, artists, city representatives or state commissioners in order to be successful on the long run. Projects and programmes initiated by the EU can be good examples and serve as support, but local integration of art practitioners and political lobbying has to be a bottom-up process in a specific city or state.

“Nele Hertling is discreet, but her modesty hides an impressive experience in the leadership of cultural projects, a professional experience which was marked by her constant support of artists. [...] She generously invited us to think outside of the box. We will bring home her most important advice: when organising a festival, never forget your responsibility on the long term,” said one of the Atelier LJUBLJANA participants in 2012.

Nine renowned mentors from all over the world will guide the participants throughout the seven days of the Atelier EDINBURGH 2014 under the coordination of Hugo De Greef (former EFA Secretary General (2004-2008), Director European Capital of Culture Bruges 2002; Co-Founder Kaaitheater, Brussels, Belgium): Mark Ball (Artistic Director London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT), UK), Bernard Faivre d’Arcier (former long-standing Director Avignon Festival, President Lyon Biennial, France), Heiner Goebbels (Artistic Director Ruhrtriennale, Germany), Nele Hertling (Vice President of the Academy of Arts Berlin, Germany), Grace Lang (Programme Director Hong Kong Arts Festival Society, China), Joseph V. Melillo (Artistic Director Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), USA), Michal Merczyński (General Director Malta Festival Poznań, Poland), and Jonathan Mills (Festival Director and Chief Executive Edinburgh International Festival, UK).

More information about the Atelier EDINBURGH 2014 can be found on the Atelier website.