230 festival makers discussed the power of the arts at the Arts Festivals Summit Usedom 2024

15 May 2024

[PRESS RELEASE – 15 MAY 2024] 230 festival delegates from 51 countries came together at the Baltic Sea on Usedom to discuss the power of the arts for the Arts Festivals Summit of the European Festivals Association from 12 till 15 May 2024

Hosted by the Usedom Music Festival, the Arts Festivals Summit 2024 of the European Festivals Association’s (EFA) invited festival makers and those surrounding festivals for a three-day conversation on ‘The Art of Awareness, Caring and Connectivity’. The attention for the arts, the role of festivals in reaching out to all sorts of audiences, the times we live in that call for free spaces, peace and careful treatment of people and the planet was once more highlighted from different angles, questions and topics.

The art of awareness, caring and connectivity

The Arts Festivals Summit is the annual get together of the European Festivals Association’s (EFA) building on the work throughout the year that puts festivals in conversation across borders. EFA is Europe’s network of arts festivals. Since 1952, it brings together festival makers from all over the world to exchange, to work and collaborate transnationally, and to give arts and arts festivals a voice when it comes to the political dialogue at local, national and EU level. 

In a keynote addressing the Summit, Lech Wałęsa, Nobel Prize for Peace and former President of Poland, reminded festival makers, artists, cities and regions representatives of the chances they have to catch the moment and build on the opportunities and needs that are defined by the world. European Commissioner for Culture Ms Iliana Ivanova addressed delegates in a digital statement recognising the importance of identity, community building and openness that festivals bring to our live.

The keynote of Jelle Dierickx, Director of the Festival of Flanders Mechelen/Kempen, and the performance of Ana Pi, choreographer and imagery artist, invited through the artistic language to collectively think about and experience the purpose of the arts. In a time that sees the world facing incredible divides and conflicts and with the EU elections approaching, arts festivals have acknowledged their privileges and responsibilities. Participants have committed to continue putting care, empathy, peace and solidarity on their agenda for the sake of artists, festivals makers, stakeholders surrounding them, audiences, and the planet to support each other, and to think of future projects. In her conclusion, Kateryna Botanova, Cultural critic & co-curator of Culturescapes, reminded festivals of their possibility to offer a hand stretched out in solidarity to others. 

The Summit included a wonderful concert by the Baltic Sea Philharmonic in Peenemünde, an orchestra gathering musicians from the Baltic and Nordic countries. The visit to the Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum, which hosted a military research centre with the aim to invest in technological research to produce weapons of terror during the World War II, served as a reminder of the atrocities of the wars that threaten our continent today.

“We need to remind festival makers about their role of advocating for dialogue and peace. Arts festivals are ready to work together, to put into practice the transformative power of the arts.” said Jan Briers, President of the European Festivals Association.

“I am very happy to have hosted so many festival makers from various horizons, sharing different perspectives, and working on meaningful projects on the island of Usedom. During three days, we have learned so much from each other and I hope this will bring in new inspiration for the weeks, months, and years to come.”, said Thomas Hummel, Intendant of the Usedom Music Festival. 

New members joining the Association and Cities and regions signing the EFFE Seal

On the occasion of the 72nd General Assembly, EFA members voted in fourteen new festivals from various art disciplines (music, dance and theatre) and countries to join the organisation. They reinforce and enlarge EFA’s wish for more diversity, inclusion and relevance on a geographical and artistic level. New members include: Association of Festivals in Bulgaria (Bulgaria), Belgrade Theatre Festival (Serbia), Enjoy Jazz Festival For Jazz and More (Germany), Festival Jordi Savall (Spain), Festival Solo Duo (Germany), Fluctuations (France), International Music Festival Arsana (Slovenia), International Theatre Festival Kontakt (Poland), Manchester International Festival (UK), Open Air International Theatre Festival “Prizren Fest” (Kosovo), Turkiye Culture Route Festivals (Turkey), The TheaterFestival (Belgium), ULICA Festival (Poland), and Yerevan International Theatre Festival (Armenia).

11 cities and regions signed the EFFE Seal for Festival Cities and Regions and committed to offer their capacities to festival life: Region of Gozo (Malta), Region of Olomuc (Czechia), Region Västra Götaland (Sweden), City of Greifswald (Germany), City of Kutaisi (Georgia), City of Martina Franca (Italy), City of Miedzsyzdroje (Poland), City of Ostseebad Heringsdorf (Germany), City of Pristina (Kosovo), City of Prizren (Kosovo), and City of Wolgast (Germany).

A new EFA Board 

Under the continued presidency of Jan Briers, EFA Members also elected the new Board of Directors composed of eleven members: Jan Briers (President, Federation of Music Festivals in Flanders), Sophie Detremmerie (Vice-President, Stroom festival / Flanders Festival Ghent), Francesco Maria Perrotta (Vice-President, Italiafestival), Franco Belletti (Ravenna Festival), Alexandra Bobes (France Festivals), Tamar Brüggemann (Wonderfeel), Jurriaan Cooiman (Culturescapes), Thomas Hummel (Usedom Music Festival), Milena Lubarda Marojevic (Theatre City Budva), Natalia Oszkó-Jakab (Valley of Arts), and Katie Paterson (Edinburgh International Festival). 

I am pleased to chair this new board formed by six women and five men, representing Western Europe, Southern Europe, Central Europe and the Western Balkans from different festivals and various artistic disciplines, these three upcoming years. Together we will work and develop further the participation, diversity, inclusion of all arts festivals within EFA and, through the arts, make our societies and our world more sustainable and peaceful.”, concluded Jan Briers.

EFA also thanks Filiz Sarper (International Izmir Festival) and Paul Dujardin (Commissioner Art Nouveau Year BCR), who both became Honorary Members of EFA, and Kai Amberla (Finland Festivals) for their commitment within the board for the last years.

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If you would like an interview with EFA’s President, board members, or Secretary General, please contact: Audrey Brisack, Communication and Network Manager, - +32 472 52 72 32 

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