EFA calls on political decision makers to support arts and culture

22 June 2009

At the occasion of the 2009 EFA General Assembly and Conference (13-16 May, Vilnius), the European Festivals Association launches a call to political decision making bodies to support arts and culture, artists and cultural organisations in Europe and world-wide and recognise their importance in our societies. The global importance of arts and culture for societies The European Festivals Association (EFA) believes that arts and culture in general and festivals in particular play a vital role in the fostering of social inclusion, intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and an active citizenship as well as in raising awareness among citizens on certain key issues. The engagement of the cultural sector in these fields is of utmost importance, especially in times of crises and challenges, both in financial, economic, political and social terms. As the initiator of the European House for Culture, with its engagement on the objectives of the European Agenda for Culture and as an important partner of the Euro¬pean Years, EFA is eager to promote the importance of arts and culture beyond the artistic level. Artistic creation as catalyst for innovative and creative developments The arts and cultural sector is one of the most favourable environments for innovation and creativity: the main objective of artists has always been creating new work of arts, thus playing a major role in changing society and leading to new paradigms. Creation and creativity are fundamental elements for the progress of mankind. They are able to bring people together at local and global level and help bridging geographical and cultural distances. Culture is a key tool to integrate the elements of our diverse societies. What can cultural organisations, associations, foundations and festivals do? The European Festivals Association is the representative network of arts festivals in Europe and beyond. Embracing common objectives, EFA and its members focus major efforts on raising awareness of the importance of culture in times of change and challenges. The cultural and creative sector is a growing sector – we have to make use of it. It is proven that creative forces help fuel innovation in other economic sectors, and that cities with large cultural communities are economically vibrant. Culture drives economic and social development, as well as innovation and cohesion. Against the background of the latest economic downturn and financial crisis which hit all sectors, the cultural sector has to find the right measures to help surviving this difficult situation. It needs strategic thinking, long-term planning, sustainable projects, advocacy efforts, the building of a strong membership base as well as the support of creative and innovative approaches. With a clearly defined mission that meets the needs of festivals, EFA members and our associations’ members at internal level and that promotes arts and cultures as motors of creativity and innovation at a larger level, i.e. the European public, EFA is convinced that festivals can a) survive the crisis and turn the difficulties into an opportunity, and b) make a crucial contribution towards helping to overcome the crisis at a broader level. Joint efforts, efficient communication to everybody involved and demonstration of best practice examples that can serve as innovative and creative approaches also for other sectors than the culture and arts sector are key elements of EFA’s mission. We will prioritise and focus the Association’s programme and initiatives on a clearly defined set of objectives and goals, involving a diversity of cultures, audiences and artists and reaching out to as many people as possible. Underlining that the cultural sector is not there for art’s sake alone, in 2009 we can prove more than ever which important role culture, arts and festivals play in our society of today and demonstrate our capability to make a difference. Therefore, the Board of the Association and the EFA membership urge political decision making bodies to recognise the power of arts and culture in our societies today. Darko Brlek EFA President On behalf of the European Festivals Association and its members Related documents: • Open letter by Levan Khetaguri, President Stichting Caucasus Foundation, on the situation of the arts in Georgia