A record Summit
Hosted by the Festival Castell de Peralada, the Arts Festivals Summit 2023 of the European Festivals Association’s (EFA) took place from 23 to 26 April in Peralada and Girona, Catalonia, Spain. The Summit gathered 227 delegates - festival makers, artists, national festival associations, cities and regions officials, and business representatives - from 42 different countries in Europe and beyond. They connected and worked together on the key issues relating to the role of the arts, festivals and festival stakeholders in society for 4 inspiring days.
The biggest Arts Festivals Summit ever
This year, the Arts Festivals Summit, hosted by the Festival Castell de Peralada, has beaten its own records: 227 delegates from 42 countries and 5 continents were present from 23 to 26 April in Peralada and Girona, Catalonia, Spain. There were 100 colleagues from 53 EFA Member, and in total 105 different festivals were represented; 30 Mayors, Vice-Mayors, or cities and regions officials; 12 business representatives; 31 speakers and 14 facilitators.
The European Festivals Association’s (EFA) is Europe’s network of Arts Festivals. Since 1952, it has brought together festival makers from all over the world to exchange, work and collaborate transnationally, and to give arts and arts festivals a voice in political dialogue at local, national and EU level.
EFA launched its first Arts Festivals Summit in 2017 in Wiesbaden, Germany. Building from the annual General Assembly, the Summit aims to gather the larger festival community.
Diversity of participants and conversations
The most important conclusions of this year’s Arts Festivals Summit are the immense added value of bringing various communities within the festival business and surrounding partners together for a joint conversation. As well as the variety of organisations represented and of arts disciplines, the geographical spread of the Alumni of The Festival Academy enriched the Summit immensely. Also artists and festivals under the European Festivals Fund for Emerging Artists (EFFFEA) contributed to the diversity of perspectives.
The conversations and topics addressed were very broad: They ranged from business conversations in the festival sector in all its dimensions, to environmental sustainability, how arts can be a tool of resilience, and social equity. The readiness to speak about these important topics and proposals was strong and nourished fruitful debates among the delegates. Coming from different countries and cultures, delegates were listening and learning from each other.
The Catalan and Spanish festivals and representatives attended in large numbers. Delegates discovered amazing artists, staged by the Festival Castell de Peralada, such as Jordi Savall, Rufus Wainwright, Albert Guinovart, and Cantoria. The Summit concluded with a visit to the famous Dali Museum in Figueres.
New members joining the Association and cities signing the EFFE Seal for Festival Cities and Regions
At the 71st General Assembly, EFA members voted in 7 new festivals from 7 countries to be part of the association: Athens Epidaurus Festival (Greece), Musical Bridges Around the World (Poland), Festival de la Porta Ferrada (Spain), Festival de Saint-Denis (France), Kulturhaltestelle (Germany), Rossini Opera Festival (Italy), and SKUPI Kammerfest (North Macedonia). This brings the number of EFA members to more than one hundred festivals - the network winning in diversity, inclusion and relevance on a geographical and artistic level each year. Since 2017, the number of festivals that are part of EFA has almost doubled.
Launched last year during the Summit in Yerevan, the EFFE Seal for Festival Cities and Regions - signed by 10 cities - was reinforced by 8 new cities, among them: Peralada (Spain), Girona (Spain), Aveiro (Portugal), Marneuli (Georgia), Sagarejo (Georgia), Tartu (Estonia), Varna (Bulgaria) and Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria). The EFFE Seal aims to develop exchanges between festivals and their local territories - those that wish to associate and integrate their image and policy with a strong cultural entity. Festivals represent a real asset for the cities and regions in which they take place and has been demonstrated here in Catalonia.
“I spoke with almost every delegate. They all found the Summit very good and go back home with many new contacts essential to their business and unforgettable souvenirs of togetherness. The interconnections were made, delegates go back home very satisfied. I can say that the goal has been achieved and I am looking to the Arts Festivals Summit 2024 that will take place in May on the beautiful island of Usedom, in Germany.”, concluded Jan Briers, President of the European Festivals Association.
“It is necessary to remember the essence of what it means to be a festival, and the attributes that a programme should have to be worthy of this label. We talk about exceptionality, identity, singularity, risk, creativity, avant-garde, and the capacity for cultural interaction. In short, we are emphasising having an artistic line and the ability to generate a story around the shows scheduled with exhibitions, debates, educational projects... with a cultural purpose that contributes to transforming people and the community.”, said Oriol Aguila, Director of the Festival Castell de Peralada.