Mediterranean Info Session: (a)Live in Cividale del Friuli

7 September 2021

The ' (a)Live - Mediterranean Info Session' is just behind us. It was the very first live event at an international level for many festival makers for a long time. And what emotion! It was productive in terms of content and exchanges, a moment of reconnection, new encounters and perspectives in the beautiful region of Friuli Venezia Gulia in the top Eastern corner of Italy, next to the Slovenian border. 

After these 3 days, from 3-5 September 2021, hosted by Italiafestival in collaboration with Mittelfest and Pordenone International Sacred Music Festival, we can state with certainty that festivals matter. With the large community of festivals that the European Festivals Association (EFA) represents - through, the EFA members among which the collectives, the national EFFE Hubs and the Alumni of The Festival Academy - the Mediterranean Info Session was a moment to discuss festivals’ tasks as well as achievements in their territories, for their artists, and their audiences. 

This is well illustrated in a new initiative that was at the core of the discussions: the EFFE Seal. Developed by six cities and their stakeholders (Bergen, Belgrade, Edinburgh, Ghent, Ljubljana and Krakow), the EFFE Seal for festival cities and regions aims to develop exchanges between festivals, cities, audiences, artists, and others in a joint action plan and a common set of values. It includes a recognition and a commitment towards all sorts of local territories that wish to associate and integrate their development and image with a strong cultural entity, resulting in a growing community of festival cities. The meeting showed, through the presentations of various EFFE Hubs, how much impact such a Seal can have within different countries and contexts. Jan Briers said: "We are here to bring the EFFE seal towards the cities for the future of their festivals, for the future of their artists and audiences." The EFFE Seal was endorsed by many festivals’ stakeholders that showed interest in taking this new action further. The next step will be taken at the Arts Festivals Summit in Galway from 22-24 November during which the EFFE Seal will be officially launched.

The Mediterranean Info Session also included various round tables and sessions with high level panelists - both with live and online contributions - on the following topics "Live festivals in Europe: an after Summer outlook", "A new deal between festivals and tourism institutions",  and “The routes of tourism between cultural policies and institutions (session 1 in the morning & session 2 in the afternoon)”. The President of Italiafestival Francesco Maria Perrotta concluded: "Regarding the EU Recovery Fund, we ask that all institutions listen to cultural operators before and not after. Let's anticipate the problems and listen to the operators. There will be synergies between the institutions. We are happy that different ministries and offices are involved, but there is a need for the various stakeholders to interact directly." Speakers invited included Tiziana Gibelli (Council member for Culture and Sport of Friuli Venezia Giulia Region), Barbara Gessler (Head of Unit at the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture), Walter Zampieri (DG Head of Unit European Education and Culture Executive Agency - EACEA), Martina Dlabajova  (MEP), Jan Briers (President of EFA), Darko Brlek (President of The Festival Academy), Anita Debaere (Director of Pearle*), and many other representatives of tourism institutions and arts festivals. 

It was also the first time EFA’s board members and EFA collective members and EFFE hubs had met physically since the end of 2019. This lead to passionate discussions and new proposals for EFA and’s near future, conversations that will be developed further in Galway, looking towards EFA’s 70th anniversary in 2022. 

The artistic performances, the guided tours of Cividale del Friuli and Pordenone, the lunch and dinners with the region’s culinary specialties accompanied with good wine, offered many moments to meet and interact with the Italian colleagues that were present, the members of Italiafestival. In total, a delegation of 57 people from all over Europe attended this event, creating manifold possibilities for connections and networking after the long pause. 

We couldn’t end this article without thanking Italiafestival, Mittelfest and Pordenone Sacred Music Festival for making this happen! Together, we put happy smiles on all the participants' faces and re-confirmed mandate for our joint work. 

by Audrey Brisack

Detailed programme and recordings of round tables and sessions.

Photo album of the event.