Atelier News #6 - More highlights: Robyn Archer and Jonathan Mills at the Atelier

2 May 2009

"In the morning session, we welcomed our last guest presenters for this year's edition of the European Atelier for Young Festival Managers: Robyn Archer, Singer, Writer, Director and Artistic Director of Light In Winter Festival in Australia, and Jonathan Mills, Director and Chief Executive of Edinburgh International Festival. Robyn Archer started her presentation with a quotation by B. Brecht: “Of all sure things the surest is doubt.” She elaborated on the meaning of the term “festival” as feast, a place to come out of oneself and become something different for a while, but on the other hand, the overabundance of riches often leads to indigestion. In that sense, she was asking the difficult question: “Do large aggregations of art actually become exercises of quantities, not qualities?” In response to participants’ questions, Robyn Archer spoke about the starting point of creating a new festival, and gave many practical solutions on the issues of finding support for our ideas, thematic content of a festival, developing the audience’s imagination, and working comfortable with private funding. Jonathan Mills, Director and Chief Executive of Edinburgh International Festival, spoke about the political context of starting the Edinburgh Festival in the distant time after the 2nd World War and how important it is to remain clear and true to a festival's original purpose. The lack of political support for research in the arts was under discussion and the role of festivals as laboratories for creating new artists as well as art forms. After lunch, all participants were asked to engage in an open space in which they had to write questions as topics for discussions, and six discussion groups were formed. Mentors and presenters went from group to group to contribute to the discussions with their comments and remarks. Group I discussed the importance to attract younger audiences to classical music concerts. Participants shared their experiences and exchanged ideas about promotions and supporting events, marketing and advertising. Group II focused on programming choice and independence and on the dilemma of forming a festival after a model versus bringing the unexpected to the audience. Group III talked about engagement and risk - the different dimensions in measuring a festival’s success - how it meets the festival director’s vision, how good the ticket sale is, or how successful a festival is in creating new artists. The issue of dealing with failure was also touched. Group IV discussed the importance of location, legacy and place - understanding the context of the place and generating a passion for participating in the festival among local community. Group V looked at the historical context of dance as an art form and the knowledge of it. The current status of the form was discussed, and on a personal level, thoughts were shared about balancing between being a festival director and having a family. Group VI focused on language problems and took a practical look at how to change the style of language from academic to more informal." Varna, 1 May 2009 By Roumi Petrova, participant from Varna Summer International Music Festival Related news: • Atelier News #7 - The last day is the first day of a new networkAtelier News #5 - Intense work combined with Bulgarian arts and culinary enjoyment Atelier News #4 - In-depth discussions and exchanges at the European AtelierAtelier News #3 - “We are led by the artists we choose to serve”Atelier News #2 - At the crossroads of cultures: the participants of the European AtelierAtelier News #1 - A dynamic start of the European Atelier for Young Festival Managers 2009 For further information please visit the Atelier website or contact EFA at More photos at the Photo Gallery!