Latest news on the Atelier Johannesburg

27 March 2018

On 23 March The Festival Academy (an initiative of the European Festivals Association, EFA) launched the 13th edition of the Atelier for Young Festival Managers, taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 23 to 29 March 2018, co-organised with the Market Theatre Foundation and the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Arts. This is the first edition to take place in Africa and in the Global South which will shift the perspective of the dialogue with the attendance of participants and speakers working in a totally different context.

After an inspiring kick-off visit at Constitution Hill, where participants and mentors dived into South Africa’s path to democracy, they gathered at the Wits School of Arts to officially open the 13th edition of the Atelier for Young Festival Managers, with the warm welcome by Ambassador Hubert Cooreman, Embassy of Belgium in Pretoria. Mr. Brett Pyper, Associate Professor and Head of the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of the Arts, greeted the 25 participants coming from 13 different countries with a presentation on Wits University and the history of Johannesburg. This was followed by an introduction to the European Festivals association and The Festival Academy by Ms. Inge Ceustermans who stressed the importance of organising this first edition in Africa:

‘The Festival Academy is entering new territory with a first edition in the Global South. It is much needed to move the conversation between festival managers to this part of the globe, to change perspective and to allow for a dialogue and think up solutions on how to run sustainable festivals in today’s world with an equal point of departure.’ 

You can read the full speech here.

In an inspiring keynote speech Mr. Ismail Mahomed, Chief Executive Officer The Market Theatre Foundation, set the tone for the 7 days.

"We need to unlock the identity of arts festivals as cultural events. Arts festivals are bigger than cultural events! Arts festivals are vibrant and vital spaces for social, economic and political development. Arts festivals are spaces where critical reflection, engaging debate and courageous confrontation underlines an artistic and cultural programme so that those who are immersed in the festival and those whom the festival incidentally touches are constantly forming new opinions, rethinking their positions and redefining how they can engage with their society.” 

You can read the full speech here.

The Atelier is a unique occasion for participants and presenters alike to step out of the daily routine for seven days, and to dive in discussions on the artistic role of festivals and cultural organisations. The artistic aspects of festival management are the heart of all the Atelier exchanges and it offers an exceptional opportunity for participants and presenters to network, to exchange ideas and to explore future cooperation possibilities.

The programme for this Atelier has been designed together with Mike Van Graan (President of the African Cultural Policy Network - South Africa):

‘We devised the programme on the basis of what the participants expressed, are some of the key themes they are grappling with and I think that what the Atelier allows is for people to have time to reflect on these big questions that affect their festivals.’

With Mike Van Graan facilitating the programme, participants are working with leading festival professionals such as Ismail Mahomed (CEO Market Theater Foundation, South Africa), Mantse Aryeequaye (Co-Director at Accra [Dot] Alt, Chale Wote Street Art Festival – Ghana), Carole Karemera (Artistic Director Ishyo Arts Centre, Rwanda), Cristina Fuentes La Roche (International Director Hay Festival, UK/ South America), Carmen Romero Quero (Executive Director Santiago a Mil International Festival – Chile), Annet Lekkerkerker (Director Holland Festival, The Netherlands), Brett Pyper (Associate Professor and Head of School at University of the Witwatersrand School of the Arts – South Africa).

In the meantime we had the honour as well to welcome the following guest speakers from South Africa: Keitu Gwangwa, Head Windybrow Arts Centre, Yvette Hardie, ASSITEJ Director South Africa, Siphiwe Ngwenya, Curator & Founder The Maboneng Township Arts Experience,   Ricardo Peach, Director Vrystaat Kunstefees/Arts Festival/Tsa-Botjhaba and Mandisi Sindo, Theatre4Change Arts Project. Still on the programme: a meeting with Leila Heinriques, Director ‘Hani: The Legacy’, and William Kentridge, Craftsman, performer and filmmaker and Bronwyn Lace, Animateur for the Centre for the Less Good Idea.

The Atelier is now in full swing and the participants have been debating about ‘Festivals, diversity and chauvinism’ and ‘Festivals as agents of change’ during panel discussions, brainstorming about festival sustainability, participated in curated lunches and are presenting their dream festivals. They also have to opportunity to discover the cultural scene of Johannesburg through visits of the Windybrow Arts Center, the Apartheid Museum, the Centre of the Less Good Idea and Soweto. You can check the full programme here.

The Atelier will close on Thursday 29 March at the Market Theatre.

Follow the Atelier Johannesburg online:

  • On The Festival Academy website where participants will share some first-hand insights.
  • Latest news and pictures are published on Facebook
  • Twitter: #AtelierJohannesburg
  • Opening Ceremony Speech Inge Ceustermans, Managing Director of The Festival Academy 
  • Keynote Speech Ismail Mahomed, Chief Executive Officer The Market Theatre Foundation

The Atelier Johannesburg is organised in partnership with the Market Theatre Foundation and the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Arts.

The Festival Academy and the European Festivals Association thank for their structural support the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

We thank the following for the support of mentors and participants: Arts Council Korea, Belgian Embassy of South Africa, DOEN Foundation – The Netherlands, French Institute South Africa – IFAS, Goethe Institute South Africa, National Arts Council of South Africa, Swiss Arts Council - Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, Spanish Embassy of South Africa.