The first Atelier for Greek Festival Managers, the Greek version of the Atelier for Young Festival Managers, tailor made for the needs of the Greek festivals’ professionals, was organized in Eleusis from 15th until 17th February 2019 by The Festival Academy, an initiative of the European Festivals Association (EFA) and Eleusis 2021 European Capital of Culture.
For three days, twenty-five young and emerging curators and festival managers from Athens, Anogia and Chania (Crete), Eleusis, Thessaloniki, Katerini, Kozani and the island of Paros worked intensively on the Atelier’s program that aimed at both empowering professionally the participants as well as promoting networking and collaboration between them.
Experienced festival artistic directors such as Mark Ball, Creative Director of the Manchester International Festival and Vidgis Jakobsdottir, Reykjavik Arts Festival Artistic Director, from abroad, and Kelly Diapouli, Artistic Director of Eleusis 2021, Frosyni Trousa, Artistic Director of the ARC for DANCE Festival, and Yolanda Markopoulou, Theatre and film Director, from Greece, presented their curating methods and guided the participants through individual working groups.
The conversation with the mentors made clear the importance of the mission and the vision of a festival for the formation of a strong and clear identity and also for the precise design of its implementation. Moreover, the way that festivals influence the growth and development of the artists and create new opportunities for new artistic productions became a point of special interest.
Under the facilitation of Mike Van Graan, Founding President of the African Cultural Policy Network, participants and mentors defined the key issues related to Greek festivals and raised the following questions:
- How can festivals contribute practically to their local communities?
- How can Greek festivals become more sustainable?
- How to build and sustain audiences: elderly, young, immigrants etc.?
- How can festivals encourage artistic innovation and improvement?
- How do you create a strategic plan for a new festival or renew/innovate an already existed?
- How do you develop an effective marketing, communication tools and strategies?
- What kind of differing models for curating and programming a festival do you implement?
- How can a festival or a project impact throughout the year?
- What are the benefits of connecting and collaborating with other festivals?
- How can you create a clear identity and a special focus for a festival or a project?
The three-days’ workshop led to the creation of a network for Greek festivals and Greek festival managers. First network’s priority is to form a toolkit, a complete guide for every Greek festival manager. The toolkit gives instruction from the initiative steps of mission and vision and the selection of the appropriate curating models, until the methods of audience development and ways of increasing the impact to local communities. For the Greek festivals’ toolkit design, the participants of the first Atelier for Greek Festival Managers collaborate with Eleusis 2021 and The Festival Academy (an initiative of European Festivals Association – EFA), that offers various training formats on festival management, thus creating the new generation of festival managers all around the world.
Eleusis 2021 and The Festival Academy collaboration takes place in the framework of the long-term strategy of Eleusis 2021 program “Culture 2030” and will be followed by a second edition of Atelier for Greek Festival Managers in 2020 and an international Atelier for Young Festival Managers during 2021, year that Eleusis hosts the title of European Capital of Culture.
photo credits: Constantinos Theodorou, Eleusis 2021