Round-up of an inspiring 2nd edition of Module I of the Festival Production Management Training

31 January 2017

From 18 - 21 January, the second edition of the Festival Production Management Training took place in Antwerp, Belgium. Organised by The Festival Academy (an initiative of the European Festivals Association) in collaboration with deSingel International Art Campus, the training programme gathered 15 young production managers from 11 different countries. For four days, they heard from and exchanged with expert production managers, discussed topics related to producing artistic creations in festivals in working groups, and linked theory to practice through witnessing artistic performances, after talks, workshops and panels.

Hugo De Greef, General Coordinator of The Festival Academy, who is moderating the Atelier for Young Festival Managers for many years, guided the participants and facilitated the Festival Production Management Training. He was joined by mentors and guest speakers eager to share their valuable experience with our participants. 

Roy Luxford, Planning and Operations Director of the Edinburgh International Festival was present throughout the training programme. Roy spoke about his experience coming to the Edinburgh International Festival from a theatre and dance background and how his festival gives primacy to artistic quality, integrity and innovation despite the challenges this poses in more practical areas. 

On Thursday, Annet Lekkerkerker, Managing Director of the Holland Festival, joined the training and on Friday and Saturday we welcomed her colleague Han Van Poucke, their head of production. The participants learned on planning a festival of that size and matter, working with sponsors, internal communication, processes of decision-making and engaging new audiences.

Participants also received first-hand insights into our host organisation, deSingel International Arts Campus through a presentation by director Jerry Aerts, - who joined us for two days -, different workshops with the team of deSingel on production, communication, artistic development and education, finalised by an energetic tour of the premises, which is becoming a tradition on this training! In the evenings deSingel invited us to join performances by Toneelgroep Amsterdam & Simon Stone, Omar Rajeh & Le Trio Joubran and Dinara Klinton, followed by after talks with the performers and their managers.

On Friday we took a step outside the building, into the cultural scene of Antwerp, and participants had the opportunity to meet fellow production managers in Flanders and discover the spaces of Troubleyn, Matterhorn, Monty Kultuurfaktorij, Toneelhuis, Opera/Ballet Vlaanderen and DE Studio. On Saturday we invited guest speakers inside deSingel and gathered for a workshop on ‘working with volunteers’ and a panel on international touring with Omar Rajeh, Mia Habis (both Maqamat), Caroline Madl (Superamas), Sofia and Semolina (both Societat Doctor Alonso).

The exchanges and discussions between participants themselves were some of the most interesting of the programme. Informal contact time was also extremely valuable, and the participants left with a new network of fellow production managers. They will also join the extensive Alumni Network of festival makers existing from the Ateliers for Young Festival Managers, The Festival Academy’s training with a focus on artistic programme management. After ten Ateliers and two Festival Production Management Trainings, the Alumni Network counts 450 members from 67 countries.

Over the course of the year, the Festival Production Management Training will continue with Modules II and III. Module II consists of a one-week placement in a festival from across the globe, in which participants will get hands-on experience and work directly with another festival’s production manager. The festivals hosting a participant are all high-level events of various genres. Module III consists of a 3-day concluding session in which participants will reflect on their practical experiences gained during the placements, once again guided by experienced production managers.

The entire training programme was documented and the photos (made by Olivier Truyman) are available on our Facebook page.

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