Interview: Festivals open doors to new artistic forms, new audiences, unusual venues…

8 April 2010

In the first edition of the 2010 FestFlash series of the European Festivals Association (EFA) EFA Secretary General Kathrin Deventer speaks about the ambitions of the 2010 EFA flagship project "Open The Door". What is the Open The Door project all about? Kathrin Deventer (KD): Open The Door is at first an invitation to festivals to invest into a reflection on their social power (and limits) in transforming societies. Secondly, it gives the opportunity for a powerful joint communication campaign - we want to show what festivals are doing on a daily basis: They open doors to new artistic forms, new performers, new audiences, unusual venues, unknown cultures, new points of view, new approaches to arts and the world, new social orders, new political discussions. Eventually, we want to show how festivals open minds and help building societies – and we aim at improving conditions for festivals to do so. What does the project include? KD: Festivals from all over the world are invited to be part of the initiative, use the logo and commit to the statement - to commit to “open doors” themselves. At the same time, festivals are invited to submit best practice examples – selected projects that follow our mission are featured throughout the year in this FestFlash newsletter series. Following a series of workshops, events and reflections in festivals throughout the year, a result on festivals’ engagement is presented at the end of the European Year in Brussels. In your opinion, what is the major challenge of festivals today in this regard? Opening the door for artists to create and for citizens to discover and participate in the arts has always been the main mission of festivals. Yet, today festivals face a major challenge: in our globalised world manifold roles and responsibilities are put on their shoulders. It seems that too often the success of a festival is measured on its market position: how much (new) public it generates, how much new audiences it attracts, how many new sponsors it gets, how many restaurants and hotels it benefits, and how much (economic) revenue it brings. Too often this becomes priority number one for festivals and also reason number one for public authorities to support festivals: numbers, facts and figures matter, not the ‘real’ impact a festival should generate – which is an artistic, and as a direct output of that a societal, a cultural one! How to commit to “Open The Door” The European Festivals Association invites all arts festivals to commit to the initiative “Open The Door” at the dedicated website: Festivals who express their commitment are invited to submit their best practice. Download the FestFlash of the European Festivals Association 1 / 2010.