A Cultural Europe - in soul, in spirit, in words and deeds
3 October 2019
The EFFE Awards Salon last Thursday 26 September showed us again: Europe is happening. Now. Whatever the circumstances, we are always and continuously in a time of building Europe. Let us assume that the European Union is more than a sum of individual countries, it is more than a citizens’ project. Europe is also a community – as, indeed, its name used to be.
A community is a necessary matrix for each festival.
The scale of the community can differ. The local or urban context is inherently
a daily part of each festival. It would be wrong otherwise. The global,
though, is also part of the local roots: as a discourse, as something
present in our daily lives. It is not something ‘on the other side’; it is the
“roots from above”.
The step to a global community is realistic if we see
Europe as an important preliminary stage for global collaboration. Europe
is based on the principle of diversity which goes beyond national borders. In
this train of thought, EFA, the European Festivals Association, follows two
tracks: Europe as a challenge to embrace the roots from above; and the arts as
the roots or the building blocks of a festival from below. These two tracks are
present in EFA since 1952 when the philosopher Denis de Rougemont and composer
and conductor Igor Markievic founded it: a European federalist and an artist
EFA as a community of festivals is based on this joint
fascination with the ‘roots from above’. It is a privilege to bring
together festivals which can refer to joint successes as well as a shared
concern: Europe. This consciousness is a source of energy and a permanent task
for EFA. It is special, it is engaging, it is exciting, it is demanding. It
binds Europe’s festivals together.
Europe’s festivals would be missing an important part
of their function if they were totally consumed by their very local
attractiveness and mission, and did not see the inspiration inherent in the
European project and process. The building of our European community is
demanding. It needs the contribution of various players. Festivals live these
‘roots from above’ that Europe is giving to them. The ‘impulse Europe’ is used
by festivals, and festivals’ spirit is used by Europe.
The work of EFA and other umbrella organisations in
the field has been developed into a successful formula. The initiatives of EFA
create an added-value in the context of vast communication and global
interconnections and in the role festivals play. EFA has launched new ways of
implementing its mediator mandate for arts festivals, above all through
permanent contacts and dialogue between festivals, decision makers and stakeholders
in new programmes such as the one called ‘Europe for Festivals, Festivals for
Europe’s governance is or should be informed by the
needs that are alive at local level. And we are here to provide that platform
Policymaking is or should be inspired by the
discussion. Democratic decision-making needs a mechanism of articulated voices
that translates single expressions in an organised way when 500 million
citizens need government. Civil society and cultural players have an important
say in the direction of Europe’s journey.
If we invite you to something, it is this:
communication, interaction and exchange - all that matters in our communities,
and in our alliances.
That is why the European Festivals Association
constructively supports the call of many of our colleague networks to keep
culture high on the agenda in the new European policies and have a Commissioner
for Culture and cultural competences in other commissioners’ portfolios.
Further reads and actions from colleagues:
- and many more...