EFA General Assembly and Conference 2010

18 December 2009

The European Festivals Association (EFA) held its 58th General Assembly and Conference from 8-11 April 2010 in Merano/Italy. It was hosted by the südtirol classic festival/Meraner Musikwochen. As part of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, 130 festival directors and delegates from 38 countries committed to the statement to “Open The Door” and thus to increase access to festivals for artists and citizens. The official opening ceremony on 8 April included keynote speeches by Nicola Sani, renowned Italian composer and President of Fondazione Isabella Scelsi, and by Doris Pack, Member of the European Parliament and Culture Committee Chairwoman. This year’s EFA General Assembly and Conference was organised as integral part of the 2010 EFA flagship project “Open The Door” ( Festivals from within Europe – both EU and non-EU countries – and from outside of Europe – such as Israel, Lebanon, Mexico – as well as national festivals associations and cultural networks committed to invest into and reflect upon the transforming power of arts and culture in our societies today. During the official opening high-level representatives from the South Tyrolean cultural and political sectors welcomed the network of arts festivals to their region: Hermann Schnitzer, President Meraner Musikwochen, Dr. Herbert Dorfmann, Member of the European Parliament, Dr. Sabina Kasslatter Mur, District Administrator, and Dr. Günther Januth, Mayor of Merano. Following their keynote addresses, the speakers Mr Sani and Mrs Pack engaged in a stimulating dialogue moderated by Simon Mundy, poet and novelist, festival director and cultural policy adviser. Stressing that “Europe is nothing without culture,” Doris Pack underlined the need for action from the political side – to support cultural practitioners, artists as well as new creative ideas: “Politicians should not just give speeches on Sunday but take action on Monday.” At the same time, it was agreed that cultural organisers need to dare to take risks and make use of the power of festivals to serve as a platform for arts that challenge citizens. The conference on 9 April moderated by EFA Secretary General Kathrin Deventer included inspiring speakers such as Enrique Gámez (Festival Internacional de Música y Danza de Granada), Fabrizio Grifasi (Romaeuropa Festival), Martin Honzik (Festival Ars Electronica) and Helen Lloyd (BBC Proms). Professionals from different backgrounds moderated 4 thematic workshops: Jelle Dierickx, Yohann Floch, Valeria Marcolin and Salvatore Marra challenged participants on chosen topics related to access to culture. The General Assembly and Conference is the most important moment for the European Festivals Associations and its members to meet, network, exchange and discuss the state of play of festival business today. Five new festivals were admitted as members of the Association: Beiteddine Festival (Lebanon), BELEF - Belgrade Summer Festival (Serbia), BOZAR Festival (Belgium), Culturescapes Festival (Switzerland) and Side International Culture and Art Festival (Turkey). “EFA demonstrates that it is more inclusive and allows for stronger participation and further outreach then ever,” underlines EFA President Darko Brlek. Download the press release in English, French, or German.