Arts Festivals and their stakeholders met EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel

24 June 2020


Europe’s Arts Festivals, together with stakeholders from the media, business, technology, philanthropy and cities, presented Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, with the needs of festivals for post COVID-19 commitments

CORONA has hit the cultural and creative sectors immensely hard and within the sector festivals particularly, as the survey conducted in April and May by the European Festivals Association (EFA) shows. The survival of many festivals is at stake. At the same time, there is a major task for all stakeholders to emphasise the necessity of the arts in our lives and to commit to their revival. This commitment needs also to result in increased financial support for the sector. Festivals, and the Cultural and Creative Industries, generate €509 billion per year and contribute 5,3% of Europe’s GDP. They provide 12 million full-time jobs, which constitute 7.5% of the EU’s employment (European Commission, 2018). Tourism represents around 10,3% of European GDP. 40% of tourists say their choice of destination is associated with culture.

Arts Festivals met EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel on 23 June to speak about the vital contribution of festivals to Europe and the importance of reinforcing the Creative Europe programme from 2021-2027. 41 representatives of festivals, cities, sponsors, the media, academia, technology and philanthropy took part in this digital round table and concluded that:

  • Festivals are ready to be platforms for experimentation; for reinvigorated partnerships with artists, audiences and other stakeholders to explore new social, artistic and political ideas.
  • Concrete proposals on the trans-national/continental level include EFA’s; the Festival Cities Initiative, the EU Label and Prize scheme for Festivals under the name EFFE: Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe and The Festival Academy’s global mutual learning programmes. 
  • New cross-sectorial programmes in collaboration with cities, sponsors, media, researchers, philanthropists and technological partners were presented as a common answer to the challenge society is facing. They reinforce the idea of a trans-sectorial alliance of stakeholders in which arts and culture are embedded.

Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said, “European leadership should be based on culture. We need concrete projects, instruments and also to have all different stakeholders on board in order to promote this and have greater chances of success. Working on new business models and partnerships that do not depend on public funding is important. But festivals that are mainly linked to private resources have suffered a lot. We need to find a right balance in order to build these partnerships: there's a lot of potential and a lot of challenges.” 

EFA President Jan Briers said, “Now is the time to come together and take action to build the future by sharing knowledge, developing digital tools to bring arts to audiences and gather funds to limit losses caused by the pandemic.” 

The meeting did not forget the central task for all networks and civil society organisations to raise our voices in the call for stronger investment in arts and culture through Creative Europe and other programmes, as well as the need to introduce a European Framework for the Status of Artists.

EFA is a trusted alliance of festival makers speaking on behalf of the festivals and the community. We represent:

  • EFA’s members; strong and long standing festivals coming from different countries in Europe and beyond,
  • More than 2.250 festivals in 45 countries registered on the website, among which 823 festivals received the EFFE Label 2019-2020 - these numbers are growing daily,
  • 700 Alumni of The Festival Academy who have followed one or several training programmes,
  • 40 cities contributing and participating in the Festival Cities Initiative. 

Presskit: access all documents here 

Contact: if you would like an interview with EFA’s President, EFA’s Secretary General or one of the participants listed here below, please contact: Audrey Brisack, EFA’s Communication Manager, audrey [@] - 0032 (0)472 52 72 32