Connecting the festivals community online: sharing needs and commitments

2 April 2020

On Wednesday 1 April 2020 the festivals community came together online. 

For EFA it was the first experiment of this kind and we believe that it was a successful one. More than 70 people from 25 different countries were connected on Zoom: EFA members, the EFFE Hubs and guests shared information, experiences, questions and proposals related to the future of our festivals, the difficult situation that artists are facing and how to continue to bring the arts to the audiences.

The meeting offered us the chance to exchange views on the needs and commitments of the festivals sector and share examples of how we are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis and the way forward. It was clear that many festivals are committing to support artists in this time, to build and keep a tight relationship with their audiences and communities, to build new partnerships with sponsors and public authorities. In particular they are working with municipalities to prepare the rebooting of public life. It was also clear that festivals will have to redefine their role in a world that will be different after the crisis. New forms of collaborations, live-performing arts versus online, new ways of programming, local versus national, a new approach to audiences and communities work were mentioned.

A dialogue has opened and will continue in the following weeks and months within the festivals community, and together with colleague networks such as PEARLE*, On the Move, IETM, Culture Action Europe and many others (see our resource page here): the sector and organised civil society are moving together for an informed policy exchange with EU, national governments and municipalities.

Our annual Arts Festivals Summit, which was supposed to be taking place later this month, will be transformed into a Culture Summit for Hope from 23-25 November in Galway. We will invite the enablers –  governments, cities, the tourism world, sponsors, and other stakeholders who support festivals – to come together and join the dialogue with the festivals community.

Thanks to all those who joined and contributed! The connection between the festival makers, artists and audiences is a sign of hope and shows that there are still many things to be done together now and in the near future.