Arts festivals committed to build bridges between cultures beyond 2008

22 April 2009

On 17 November 2008 in Paris, the European Festivals Association (EFA) had the opportunity to share the achievements of its project Arts Festivals’ Declaration on Intercultural Dialogue with 600 conference participants from across Europe and beyond. EFA stressed its gratefulness for the support of European Commissioner Ján Figel’ who, in return, awarded the Association and 20 major European festivals for their efforts throughout the year. "I think the nature of the piece of art underscores perfectly the partnership and the long-term commitment to intercultural dialogue of us all," said Ján Figel' during the ceremony. "It is a great pleasure for me to share this award, in the knowledge that it will travel to all parts of Europe, just as we wish the spirit of intercultural dialogue to spread its warmth to every corner of our common home." The event took place in the framework of the conference "New Perspectives of Intercultural Dialogue in Europe" - the official closing event for the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue organised by the French EU Presidency and the European Commission. The conference aimed to look to the future of Europe from the point of view of cultural diversity. Looking ahead, EFA added an Epilogue to its Declaration and thus once again underlined the strength of arts and culture and in particular festivals to enhance dialogue between cultures. Festivals from Avignon, Berlin, Brno, Edinburgh, Emilia Romagna, l'Epau, Estoril, France Festivals, Granada, Ljubljana, Reykjavik, Rheingau, Santander, Sarajevo, Festivals in Transition, Trondheim, Varna, Vilnius and Flanders confirmed their engagement for "peaceful and free exchange among people and the respect for cultural diversity also beyond 2008" (abstract from the Epilogue to the Declaration). Also Ján Figel' shared his future vision with the festivals present: "Our partnership has gone from strength to strength; and the new Cultural Agenda for Europe, and the European Year for Innovation and Creativity, will multiply our opportunities for working together." The Arts Festivals' Declaration on Intercultural Dialogue is one of hundreds of activities and projects that were highlighted, promoted and shared with the wide public in the course of year. All aimed to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of intercultural dialogue. A special website dedicated to the Declaration featuring best practices and activities throughout 2008 is available at