Artistic trends in festivals discussed at the 2009 EFA Conference

20 May 2009

On 14 May 2009 in Vilnius/Lithuania, the European Festivals Association (EFA) held its 2009 conference on the topic “Artistic Trends in Festivals”. Hosted by the Vilnius Festival, the conference discussed: How and why do trends in festivals change? Who sets trends? What are the future trends? And what future for festivals: Still the trendsetters of our creative ecology of tomorrow? Almost by definition, culture is one of the most rapidly changing fields in society. Artistic festivals are heralds of innovation in the arts. A festival has an essential mission to constantly look for its contemporary quality, to be prepared to changes, permanently choose for innovative means, pick up trends in the arts in order to play an alert artistic, cultural and social role. These aspects were explored in an inspirational keynote speech and a stimulating round table including Hugo De Greef, General Director Flagey; Ruta Staneviciute, Lithuanian Musicologist; Henk Heuvelmans, International Gaudeamus Music Week Amsterdam; Dr. Levan Khetaguri, President Stichting Caucasus Foundation; and Sarah Wilson, Managing Director Innsbruck Festival of Early Music. Furthermore, a series of very concrete presentations and participatory working groups took place. In his keynote speech, Michael Tydén, Festival Manager of the Baltic Sea Festival, explained the importance of the Baltic Sea Festival. He explained the special nature of the festival that is built on three pillars: classical music, the environment in the Baltic Sea and leadership. The Baltic Sea Festival is an example of how a festival – through the arts – can reach out to thousands of people, raise awareness on certain societal issues and promote collaboration across borders, across artistic disciplines and across festivals. Due to this creative and innovative approach, the Baltic Sea Festival was among the festivals that were awarded with the FestLabPass at the end of the conference day. 106 arts festivals from 35 countries received the ‘FestLabPass for Creativity and Innovation’, a passport that commits festivals to act as laboratories of creativity and promoters of innovation. Handing over the FestLabPass, Mr. Gintautas Babravičiaus, Vice-mayor of Vilnius City responsible for Vilnius ECOC programme, acknowledged – on behalf of Ján Figel’, European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth – the outstanding role of festivals in fostering of creative and innovative skills in our societies today. The FestLab for Creativity and Innovation is an EFA initiative taken at the occasion of the 2009 European Year of Creativity and Innovation. FestLabPass holders are invited to act as messengers of the European Year.