Swedish Festivals National Conference: An event to meet and work

13 March 2023

The Sweden festivals conference took place this year in the city of Gothenburg from 10 till 12 March 2023. For the second time after the pandemic, Swedish festivals from all over the country came together to meet and work. Invited by its collective member Sweden Festivals, the European Festivals Association (EFA) was present to talk about the important new European projects launched in recent months.

After Norrköping, the live conference of Sweden festivals and MAIS - Musikarrangörer i Samverkans (Music Organisers in Collaboration) was hosted by Gothenburg from 10 till 12 March 2023. Gothenburg is the second largest city of the country, and capital of the Västra Götaland region, located on the west coast of Sweden. “We were happy to have this event in our hometown Gothenburg and take care of the local organisation. In total some 80 participants took part in this event. We are also delighted to have EFA among us and to be able to present EFFEA for which our residency project has been selected” said Americk Lewis from All My Friends are Stars Music Festival, one of the members of Sweden Festivals. 

EFA’s new European projects

Launched last Summer, the European Festival Fund for Emerging Artists - EFFEA is EFA’s latest project co-funded by the European Union. Two different festivals from the city - All My Friends Are Stars and Gothenburg Fringe Festival - have been applying as leading festivals and selected by the jury to benefit from one of the grants to take an emerging artist under their wings. “It’s good to see that there are similar driving forces, both from Gothenburg. Thanks to the conference, we had the chance to really meet, exchange and discover each others work as we were both programming performances for this year’s artistic programme.”, mentioned Hanna Magdalena Gödl from Gothenburg Fringe.

The Region of Västra Götaland was present throughout the conference. On several occasions, representatives explained the functioning of its cultural department and the various initiatives it has put in place. The region has even developed a festival platform, showing how much this specific sector is important to them. Carita Forslund, who is the person responsible for this platform shared: “I am very excited about the possibilities that the EFFE seal could provide to our region and our festivals. I especially look forward to be part of a network of other culture administrators on an international level. So I hope the Region Västra Götaland will be able to sign the seal within reasonable time.” Next to EFFEA, the EFFE Seal for Festival Cities and Regions was the second project that was presented and many participants felt inspired by this new bridge between festivals and their local authorities.

The conference and its artistic programme

Last year’s conference aimed to encourage and inspire Swedish festivals to collaborate and open up for tours after the pandemic shutdowns. This year, the organisers focused on building connections and collaborations between festival makers. “Our aim is to give our members a chance to gather once per year during this annual event that has been growing in size over the years. This was a productive conference that allowed to develop collaborations for our members and between them. The nine member festivals that have been involved in curating the programme have received funding to work on this but also to mirror it at their own festivals. This has led to further collaborations, for example, Uppsala International Guitar Festival and Umeå Jazz Festival made a mini-tour with guitarist Yamandu Costa (Brasil) and pianist Jan Lundgren just three weeks ago. We see that our members actively network and collaborate.”, underlined Erik Palm, the business manager of Sweden Festivals.

The artistic programme was rich with several concerts of different genres, each organised by a different member of Sweden Festivals. The young virtuoso Antoine Boyer opened the evening with a guitar concert, varying between classical and gypsy guitar, before playing with Yeore Kim on the harmonica, an unexpected but superb duo. The programme also included jazz, baroque, lyric music, pop, rap and soul. There was even a dance performance arranged by the Gothenburg Fringe and a contemporary storytelling piece, giving space to other artistic disciplines on stage.

It’s so important to meet in person after three years of online meetings. These three days were very good and feels like a new start.”, concluded Peter Eriksson, the President of Sweden Festivals.

Everyone left the conference with happy faces and big smiles, bearing in mind all the future opportunities offered by this year's summit and looking forward to 2024.

by Audrey Brisack

Check out the programme conference / artistic programme

Picture copyright: All My Friends Are Stars