EFA delegation visits Shanghai: A city in progress - a cultural city of the future?

29 October 2009

The European Festivals Association and various EFA members visited the China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF) and Performing Arts Fair (SPAF) in 2006, 2007 and 2008. This year, for the forth time, EFA was represented with a strong delegation at the 11th edition of the festival that took place from 17 to 22 October 2009. One year before the World Expo is hosted in Shanghai in 2010, the Festival and Fair received national and international attention: almost one thousand representatives from more than 200 major arts festivals, international performing arts organisations and agencies from more than 30 countries and regions attended the Fair. Thus, a broad range of interests and cultures was represented. With over 20 million people, Shanghai is one of the largest metropolian areas in the world. The China Shanghai International Arts Festival and Fair run for the 11th time in 2009. As in previous years, the aim was to bring the arts world of China closer to Europe. Shanghai is ambitious to become the number one meeting place and arts market in China in the years to come. In 2009, EFA was again represented by a strong delegation: Darko Brlek, EFA President and Director Ljubljana Festival, Kathrin Deventer, EFA Secretary General, Per Boye Hansen, Director Bergen International Festival, Sarah Wilson, Wilson Arts Projects, Ruta Pruseviciene, EFA Board Member and Director Vilnius Festival, Danas Skramtai, Senior Producer Vilnius Festival, Jan Briers, EFA Vice-President and Director Flanders Festival International, Jan Ove Hafstad, Swedish Music Festivals, Michael Nieuwenhuisen, ECPNM, Patrick De Clerck, Flanders Festival, and Silje Gripsrud, Bergen International Festival. The EFA delegation met representatives of the Association of Asian Performing Arts Festivals (AAPAF) such as Goh Ching Lee (former director of the Singapore Arts Festival and Secretary General of AAPAF), Ary Sudetja (JakArt) and Tisa Ho (Hong Kong Arts Festival). The meeting of EFA members and Asian festivals laid the foundation for future collaboration and joint activities. Between tradition and progress On 17 October, a welcome meeting with participants from all parts of the world was followed by the Opening Performance of the 2nd Shanghai International Chorus Festival in the Shanghai City Theatre. Both very traditional as well as some international guest choirs (from the US, Sweden) were part of the Chorus Festival. On 18 October, the delegation attended the opening ceremony of the China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF) in the Oriental Arts Center. With the theme “Arts to Light Up the Heart”, the CSIAF presented 55 stage performances - 28 from abroad and 27 from China - including classical ballet, dance, music, opera, drama, art exhibitions, puppets, magic and a youth piano competition. In addition to stage performances, the festival features art exhibitions, forums, mass cultural activities and a Performing Arts Fair – a festival that is bound to tradition, but looking for international exposure and connections! On the agenda of 19 October was a high level conference entitled “Our Festival Makes City and Life Better”. With the attention of 300 conference participants, both Darko Brlek and Per Boye Hansen had the chance to introduce respectively EFA and the Ljubljana Festival and the Bergen International Festival to the Asian colleagues. In his speech entitled “Without arts, no peace, tolerance, creativity and progress”, Mr Brlek stressed the importance to “build on existing relationships” as the collaboration between European and Asian festivals is “very enriching for both sides.” In his intervention on “Challenge and Tradition Development”, Mr Hansen focused on how the Bergen Festival approaches the young generation, enhances the pace of city development and thus becomes an indispensable part of people’s life. The 2009 Shanghai Delegation agreed: just one year ahead of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, it was an important moment to meet, discuss and get inspired by an enormously rapidly progressing and changing city.