Conclusions of the congress "Festivals: where arts, culture and tourism meet"

24 May 2005

Hugo De Greef has been one of the keynote speakers at the Congress on "Festivals: where arts, culture and tourism meet" in Parma at the invitation of our collective member Italiafestival, hosted by the Teatro Festival Parma on May 20th and 21st. This congress brought together some representatives from the tourist, the festivals, the economic and the political sector in order to discuss the role of festivals in different contexts. The President of Italiafestival and the Valle d’Itria Festival in Martina Franca Franco Punzi introduced the congress with a speech about the difficult relationship between the Festival and bureaucratic tight spots, normative inadequacy and lack of resources for festivals before Gisella Belgeri, Italiafestival Vice-President focused on the relationship between festivals and their location and their possibility of targeting the audience, not only from the local area, but also from other regions and from abroad. Italiafestival's members including Giorgio Gennari, Teatro Festival Parma, Antonino Panzera, Taormina Arte, Lino Bongiovanni, Vignale Danza, and Gianfranco Mariotti, Rossini Opera Festival weighed in the congress with speeches about the actual various trends in programming and functioning of festivals. Hugo De Greef focused on the role of festivals in the context of the arts on the one hand and their role in strengthening tourism on the other. The idea that culture has, besides its own agenda of promoting the importance of art and culture, an unequalled role in profiling, upgrading and augmenting the aura of towns and regions has drawn much attention and has been recognised during the last two decades. Next to this, town festivals increasingly receive a newly profiled place in the cultural tourist programme of a town or region. Culture often serves as a catalyst to generate a new dynamic, a new dynamic that is often strongly oriented towards tourism departing from culture. According to the EFA Secretary General, it is clear that festivals which are merely focussing on one or on a limited number of disciplines are loosing ground and certainly within the dynamic to boost tourism. If a festival wants to continue to play a role or wants to enlarge its role in tourism, it has to be strongly in line with the multidisciplinary and innovative town festivals in respect of programme and form. In this function one of the festival’s true mission of today is to support innovation in art itself. Each festival, if not exclusively focussed on renewing trends – and many of them are already specialising in this niche - has to make room for new phenomena. It helps the public to look further and to experience new and interesting things. A festival is able to present, in a short and intense way, new matters within the multitude of programmes, and embed them within the whole. In this way, the festivals are contributing to the development of the arts and to the evolution of the public’s perception. The General Director of the Association of Italian Tour Operators, Alberto Corti ("Tourism and culture: a winning couple") and Alessandro Leon, an authoritative economist in the world of cultural economy ("When performing arts turn into the economics"))concluded the congress. For more details please visit the website of ITALIAFESTIVAL.