Next to me on the bus from Vienna to Brno an older man from Brno, who has been working and living in Vienna for more than 25 years together with his family, told me that it is always a strong moment of emotion to come back to Brno, to his home town. He says he feels very much connected, he feels at home. It reminded me of the quote Jonathan Mills (Director of the Edinburgh International Festival) always refers to by French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty: “Just as places are sensed, senses are placed.” Yes! Brno is his hometown; his story, his history, his feelings, are connected to this place. Continue reading
A word is not much but it is something and here I want to offer it to the peaceful protesters of Turkey – one of whom, a friend who works for a festival organisation – has been gassed three times at least since the weekend. Turkey can and should do better. I said so when I looked at its cultural policy for the Council of Europe 13 years ago and I said so when we celebrated Istanbul as City of Culture. Prosperity and authoritarianism cannot go together. So let us all encourage those who want to see a liberal European country, not one stuck in a mix of the a top-heavy state and religious conservatism. Then festivals will be more than cosmetic there.
“Hi. My name’s Jonathan and I’m Digital Producer at LIFT.” I’ve found myself saying this a lot in the last five months at meet ups in East London, talks, conferences, digital summits and of course Silicon Drinkabouts. Pleased as punch as I am with the work I do, I’ve also found this new job title a little problematic since my role changed at LIFT (the London International Festival of Theatre)… but we’ll come to that later.
I suppose it’s the ‘Digital’ part that’s somewhat misleading. That overly used word ‘digital’ always seems to suggest some kind of dichotomy; a separation between ‘digital’ and ‘analogue’ or ‘digital’ and ‘physical’ that’s outmoded and, as we all know, vaporising before our very eyes. Thinking ‘digital’ vs everything else out there is reminiscent of a past (and in some cases all too present) when digital is an afterthought and treated as a one-way channel or trendy add-on. Now that digital underpins nearly everything we do, it becomes next to meaningless as a descriptor. Continue reading
Hello, I’m Megan Lloyd and I’ll be helping Simon with the Festival blog this year. This post is my attempt to give a taste of the Hay Festival. About this time last year I walked into Hay for the first time as a writer. My initial thought about the place was simply ‘I’ve found the holy land’. Continue reading
It is all about listening. As a newcomer at the General Assembly of the European Festivals Association (EFA) in Granada my main task was to listen carefully. And I heard a lot of interesting stories and facts. It was inspiring. But it is not only about me – during the conference it became clear that it is time for all of us to listen more carefully and more profoundly. “Listen to your sponsors!” was one of the key advices during the panel discussion on sponsorship. “Listen to your audiences!” was another key message during the discussion on communication. So, I was listening, and I was thinking. About EFA, about the conference and also about the Bulgarian context I am coming from. Continue reading
The law of the street is without mercy – cars, cars and more cars everywhere from Hamra to downtown. It is like a trip between two cities in Switzerland. When a car was driving into our direction in a one-way-street (we were driving in the “right” direction) the taxi driver said: “You see, we are a free country!” Continue reading
“The most attractive aspect to me was developing a programme over a longer period of time for a very concentrated moment. And I was interested in working in a foreign country after having worked so long in the international context. It was a great opportunity to face a new audience, address different expectations, and work with a new team. But the main argument for me was to have more time to go deeper into the content of projects, bind them together dramaturgically with a thematic focus,” explains Maria Magdalena Schwaegermann, former Artistic Director of the Zürcher Theater Spektakel in Switzerland, in an interview for the latest publication of the European Festivals Association (EFA) – “Inside/Insight Festivals. 9 Festival Directors — 9 Stories”. Continue reading
I have never been to Ankara – the capital of Turkey. This is probably true for many who travelled to Turkey several times to spend some holiday at the Aegais or the Riveira, or to dive into the rich cultural life of Istanbul. Ankara does not figure as the first destination. Ankara is the capital, and I imagined something like Canberra in Australia: a city which has been designated capital because of certain reasons; but not because it represents the social, economic, cultural centre of the country. But I was wrong. Continue reading
Festival Life 2013. That’s the title of this conference day. Working day, to be precise. Visiting Granada is of course fun, but all participants came with a mission and everybody knows that a vibrant cultural and festival life is only there thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of those who carry the “holy festival flame”. Continue reading
A freshly mowed lawn. That’s what Granada smells like once the door of the airplane is opened. The two-day experience of the senses can begin. Before having a short night rest I meet Eva, Kathrin, Nathalie and Jacqueline at the entrance of the hotel. The team is well prepared for the storm tomorrow, and Eva immediately asks some deep questions about a possible future for Europe. Yes, this is clearly an EFA meeting. Not one second is wasted. Continue reading