The fifth Atelier for Young Festival Managers (Ljubljana, Slovenia, 14-21 October 2012), initiated by the European Festivals Association (EFA) and hosted by the Ljubljana Festival, brought together 32 participants from 21 countries and seven renowned festival managers from all over the world. The Atelier LJUBLJANA 2012 was kicked off with an inspiring keynote speech by Australian festival director Robyn Archer and a greeting by Zoran Janković, Mayor of the City of Ljubljana; it was concluded with an exclusive lecture by festival icon Gerard Mortier and a welcome address by Dr. Danilo Türk, President of the Republic of Slovenia. Throughout the 7-day training programme, a diversity of working formats allowed for thought-provoking exchanges and establishing sustainable ties for the future.
In his address at the Atelier closing ceremony at the Ljubljana City Hall on 20 October, President Dr. Danilo Türk – the first Head of State to participate in the Atelier's history – underlined his support of the Atelier and the importance of such an international initiative both for the Slovenian capital and the entire country.
Gerard Mortier, General Director Teatro Real de Madrid, gave an inspiring and thought-provoking lecture which positioned the importance of cultural activities in a broader perspective: "We cannot change the world with art, but we can ask the right questions and try to change people's mentality." Referring to the often cited crisis, he stressed that "we know the price but have forgotten the value" and that there is a "need to see the present as an opportunity for transformation."
General Atelier Coordinator Hugo De Greef (initiator of festivals, General Manager Bruges European Capital of Culture 2002; Belgium) concluded: "The ceremony formed the perfect closing to 7 days of in-depth discussions in working groups and lectures, interactive exchanges and insightful face-to-face talks between the young festival managers, selected out of 80 applications, and seven established festival leaders,": Robyn Archer (Creative Director The Centenary of Canberra (2013), Artistic Director The Light In Winter Melbourne; Australia), Bernard Faivre d'Arcier (former long-standing Artistic Director Avignon Festival, President Lyon Biennial; France), Nele Hertling (Vice-Chair Academy of Arts Berlin; Germany), Michal Merczynski (Director Malta Festival Poznan; Poland), Gerard Mortier (General Director Teatro Real de Madrid, former Director Salzburger Festpiele, former Director Ruhr Triennale; Belgium), and Fruzsina Szép (Programme Director Sziget Festival, Budapest; Hungary).
"It was a pleasure to host such an outstanding group of emerging and established festival directors, to inspire and to get inspired, to challenge and to support each other. I am proud that Ljubljana could help nurturing the next generation of artistic festival managers with its local cultural life and offer," underlined Darko Brlek, EFA President and Artistic and General Director Ljubljana Festival.
In her keynote address at the opening ceremony Robyn Archer hinted at the importance of legacy – both in reference to festivals as well as the Atelier itself: "A festival is not only an intense and immersive experience for a short time, but the seeds that it plants continue to flourish and grow. This is manifest in the Atelier, the intention of which is legacy: it is a hothouse for the exchange of ideas which we all hope will gain strength during the Atelier and way beyond."
"After five Ateliers, the ever-growing network of Alumni counts 172 young festival managers and 28 presenters from 52 countries and regions," stressed Kathrin Deventer, EFA Secretary General, during a press conference on 18 October. Together with Darko Brlek, Hugo De Greef and Nele Hertling, she shed light on festival making 60 years on and the challenges of creating a cultural Europe in a globalising world. Furthermore, the fifth volume in the EFA BOOKS Series entitled "Inside/Insight Festivals. 9 Festival Directors – 9 Stories" was launched.
EFA is delighted about the strong support of local authorities: the Atelier for Young Festival Managers in Ljubljana was made possible thanks to the City of Ljubljana (Founder of the Ljubljana Festival); the Ljubljana Castle; the Institut Français Ljubljana; the British Council; the Goethe-Institut; EUNIC Slovenia; the Embassy of France in Ljubljana; and the Embassy of Belgium in Ljubljana. Special thanks goes to: Pierre-François Mourier, Ambassador of France to Slovenia; Paul Jansen, Ambassador of Belgium to Slovenia; Žiga Turk, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, Slovenia; Zoran Jankovic, Mayor of Ljubljana; James Hampson, Director British Council Slovenia; Graham Sheffield, Director Arts British Council London; as well as Mateja Avbelj Valentan, Director Ljubljana Castle; Mitja Rotovnik, Director Cultural Centre Cankarjev Dom; Mitja Bervar, Director SNG Opera and Ballet Ljubljana; Zdenka Badovinac, Director Gallery of Modern Art; Mara Vujic, Programme Director City of Women Festival; Nevenka Koprivsek, Director Bunker Productions; Uros Korencan, Director Puppet Theatre Ljubljana; Damir Domitrovic, President Kulturno Drustvo B-51; Marko Bulc, Artistic Director Theatre Glej; Iztok Kovac, Director and Artistic Director Cultural Centre Spanski Borci; Jadranka Plut, Artistic Director Gallery Alkatraz; Natasa Zavolovsek, Director Festival Exodos; and the High School for Design and Photography Ljubljana.
LJUBLJANA 2012 confirmed the standard of excellence set in the previous editions, paving the way for the next Ateliers in 2013 and 2014 and for continued interactions of the Atelier Alumni network: "We all felt that we have a strong new network here – the seeds of many potential future collaborations between us have certainly been sowed," said UK participant Gemma Connell.