EFA Delegation meets European Commissioner for Culture

21 February 2018

On 21 February a delegation of 24 renowned festival directors from 14 countries met the European Commissioner for Culture, Mr. Tibor Navracsics at the invitation of the European Festivals Association (EFA) for its annual round table meeting.

“Festivals are vehicles for the diversity of cultural expressions, for integration and social cohesion. They help to keep communities together, transmitting values, refreshing traditions and acting as vectors for informal education. By doing all that, festivals help to build a sustainable future in a diverse society.” Commissioner Tibor Navracsics.
On the agenda were the responsibility for defending our past and future heritage, the need for generosity towards smaller festivals and the responsibility the established festivals have to take for developing together the common European heritage, the importance taking part in the community (cross-country/generation/disciplines), the importance of maintaining collaboration with colleagues from outside the EU and the importance of strengthening networks.

As EFA president Jan Briers highlighted this small sample of European festivals alone, represents 14 countries, programmes nearly 50.000 artists, presents 25.837 activities taking place in 4.690 venues, sells 8.650.000 tickets and makes up a turnover of 112.600.000€.

More than these impressive statistics “one of the things we know festivals do so well is to create space for dialogue to develop understanding” as put by Joanna Baker, Edinburgh International Festival. At a time where it’s very challenging for people to think of their lives in absolute security, festivals “represent a fundamentally important and open-minded way of European citizens expressing that citizenry that actually they feel free to move in substantial numbers in these festivals.” as highlighted Sir Jonathan Mills, President of the EFFE International Jury.
''Culture and festivals travel beyond the borders of Europe, building bridges and opening up opportunities for people across the world to meet and discover our rich cultural expressions. The engagement of festivals in these activities is truly remarkable. This global reach is important in the context of the EU’s approach to international cultural relations, and I do hope it will continue in the future.” Commissioner Tibor Navracsics
In this meeting were also represented festivals from outside the EU and, as Filiz Sarper, International Izmir Festival, voiced “since we can’t have culture without a foundation and since we cannot abstract society from its cultural roots, the importance of expanding our cooperation and including countries like Russia or Turkey becomes prominent.”
Culture and the arts have proven to have more than a cultural impact, more than an impact of health but also a profound social impact. As Peter Florence, Hay Festivals, reminded “By its very nature culture is an invitation to see the world from somebody else’s perspective. It allows both individuation and a sense of community at every level.” And this contribution to cohesion, understanding and knowledge is needed more than ever.
In a year where culture is in the heart of the European project Haris Pašović, Mittelfest, expressed the shared view that there needs to be an equal financial commitment that supports this idea. In face of the new framework ahead, with the new budgetary period starting in 2020, the new Parliament and the new Commission, EFA and the festivals community, will assist the Commissioner’s efforts to really position culture at the heart of the European project in all ways.
Commissioner Navracsics concludes that also the tourism industry needs the content produced by festivals and their cultural programmes. He urges the festivals to work together with the decision makers to put culture at the center of the EU budgetary negotiations, showing very clearly the social power and usefulness of culture.

Participants of the Round Table Meeting: Jan Briers, EFA President | Anna Gesualdi, Altofest International Contemporary Live Arts Festival | Colm Croffy, Association of Irish Festival Events | John Milios, Athens and Epidaurus Festival | Anders Beyer, Bergen International Festival | Paul Dujardin, BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels | Czaba Kaél, Budapest Spring Festival and CAFe Budapest | Jonathan Mills, Edinburgh International Culture Summit | Joanna Baker, Edinburgh International Festival | Piñeiro Nagy, Estoril Lisbon Festival | Miroslav Mogorović, European Film Festival Palic | Sophie Detremmerie, Klarafestival | Carlos Seixas, FMM Sines - Festival Músicas do Mundo | Jerzy Limon, Gdansk Shakespeare Festival | Peter Florence, Hay Festivals| Ibrahim Spahic, International Festival Sarajevo Winter | Filiz Sarper, International Izmir Festival | Francesco Maria Perrotta, ItaliaFestival | Haris Pašović, Mittelfest | Francesca Manica, RomaEuropa | Valentina Granados, Santander International Festival | Jovanka Višekruna Janković, Serbian Festivals Association | Rūta Prusevičienė, Vilnius Festival