60 Years On: The European Festivals Association celebrates its Diamond Jubilee in Bergen

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efa logo small  From 23-25 May 2012, the European Festivals Association (EFA) celebrates the 60th anniversary of its foundation in Bergen, Norway. Embracing the motto “60 Years On: Festivals and the World”, 180 representatives of festivals, sister festival associations, cultural networks, policy and media from 46 countries and regions of the world will participate to celebrate, commemorate and in particular reflect on the present and future of arts festivals. On the agenda: the setting of the ‘Bergen Agenda’, discussion of festival policies (“Europe for Festivals – Festivals for Europe”), exchanges with alumni of the Atelier for Young Festival Managers, release of a Jubilee publication and film – all embedded in an exciting artistic programme of the Bergen International Festival, co-organising the event and itself celebrating its Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

The European Festivals Association is the umbrella organisation for festivals across Europe and beyond. The oldest cultural network in Europe, it was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1952 as a joint initiative of the eminent conductor Igor Markevitch and the great philosopher Denis de Rougemont. Since its foundation, the Association has grown from 15 festivals into a dynamic network representing more than 100 music, dance, theatre and multidisciplinary festivals, national festival associations and cultural organisations from 40 countries.

On 23 May the Opening Gala takes place with welcome speeches by Åse Kleveland, Head of Board Bergen International Festival, Darko Brlek, President European Festivals Association, and a video message by Herman van Rompuy, President European Council. Michael Haefliger, Director Lucerne Festival, will deliver the keynote on behalf of 15 founding members of EFA. In the evening, the Bergen International Festival will be opened with Xerxes, directed by Stefan Herheim.

“We invite festival leaders from all over the world to enhance their network in one of Norway’s cultural hubs. We are very proud that the Bergen International Festival with its outstanding artistic programme is the context for such an exclusive meeting,” says Festival Director Per Boye Hansen.

Bergen Agenda

On 24 May participants will set the Bergen Agenda under the motto “Celebrate the Arts, Transform People, Imagine the World”. In a series of sessions, speakers and participants will discuss key topics at stake in the festival business: innovation, culture and business as well as audience participation/citizenship.

“The Bergen Agenda will set the pace for the next years for EFA to continue its work with and for festivals on an artistic as well as a broader societal level. In 2012, EFA is eager to form a coalition of organisations dedicated to the process of transformation, whether that is transforming the individual, the professional practice, or the political climate,” explains EFA President Darko Brlek.

Turning the Tables

Mike van Graan, Playwright, Outgoing Secretary General Arterial Network, and Xavier Troussard, Head of Unit European Commission, will reflect on the relation between arts and politics and the need for constant redefinition of policies according to the artistic practice.

Every little thing (she does) is magic*

Co-produced with the European House for Culture, Michael Haefliger and Stefan Herheim question the notion of innovation in the arts, festivals and society in the session “Festivals – Celebrate the Arts, Committing to Innovation”. Bernard Faivre d’Arcier, President Biennale de Lyon, Hugo De Greef, Co-Founder European House for Culture, and EFA President Darko Brlek will discuss policy measures at local, national and European level (and beyond) which reflect the changing artistic, social and political circumstances.

Take a chance on me*

Co-produced with A Soul for Europe, the session “Festivals mean Business, Festivals have meaning for Business” discusses festivals’ contribution to the development of economic sustainability and their position as major businesses themselves. It looks at if and how festivals capitalise on their influence and at new ways of unlocking their business potential, providing practices of stimulation and support to local businesses other than marketing and communication.

Video killed the radio star?*

Co-produced with the Access to Culture Platform, the session “Festivals and the Citizen in Digital Times” looks at the role of festivals as agents of participation and cohesion; at the implications and opportunities of new technologies and asks whether (and if so, which) festivals are making the most of them. It looks at how festivals can use their influence during the European Year of Citizens in 2013 to activate citizens and help shaping policies for citizens in Europe.

Stir it up*

Asked to “Re-Imagine the World!”, Odile Quintin, former Director General European Commission, and former participants of the Atelier for Young Festival Managers will take the Bergen Agenda forward through sharing their vision of festivals 60 years on.

Delivering on the Bergen Agenda

In a round table discussion, Doris Pack, Chairwoman Culture Committee European Parliament, Jan Truszczynski, Director General European Commission, and Gunnar Bakke, City of Bergen, will discuss the role of festivals in local, regional, European and global development in the framework of the European Agenda for Culture and EFA’s proposal 'Europe for Festivals - Festivals for Europe'.

Festive highlights

In the evening of 24 May, the EFA Jubilee Banquette will form one of the festive highlights of the Jubilee. On 25 May, the Bergen Agenda will be handed over to the General Assembly Granada 2013 and the public with a special intervention by Simon Mundy, poet, novelist, festival director, broadcaster and cultural policy adviser, and Carte Blanche, the Norwegian National Company of Contemporary Dance.

Journalists interested in attending the conference on 24 May should register at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Background information on the sessions, and the list of speakers and participants is available on the EFA Jubilee website (www.efa-aef.eu/efa60). Interviews can be arranged. The EFA Jubilee publication “European Festivals Association. 60 Years On” will be presented in Bergen.


The media partner of the EFA Jubilee is euro|topics. EFA thanks its structural partners for their support: the European Commission, the National Lottery Belgium, the Flemish Authorities and the City of Ghent.

Download the press release here.



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