Integration of Russia into the global Festival Movement

On November 15, as part of the track 'Festival of Festivals', a new area of the Forum activities, the 'Joint Meeting of the European Festivals Association and Russian Festivals Association' was held in the General Staff Building of the State Hermitage Museum. Experts discussed international festival practices and prospects of cooperation between Russian and foreign festivals.

The panel discussion was attended by: Kathrin Deventer, Secretary General of the European Festivals Association; Patrick de Clerck, Director of Music Projects for Brussels; Haris Pašović, Director of the East-West Sarajevo Centre; Yeşim Gürer Oymak, Vice-President of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts; Kim Sung-Kyu, Director of the Sejong Performing Arts Centre in Seoul, and Jovanka Visekruna Jankovic, President of the Serbian Festival Association, member of the Management Board of the European Festivals Association (EFA). The meeting was moderated by Dmitry Grinchenko, Director General of the Russian Concert Agency.

The international meeting was preceded by the constitutive meeting of the Russian Festivals Association. At he subsequent Joint Meeting of the European Festivals Association and Russian Festivals Association experts discussed international experience and global goals set for the world festival industry nowadays.

Kathrin Deventer, Secretary General of the EFA, told about the European Festivals Association (EFA), the organization established in 1952 to support art managers and international creative cooperation. She also noted the importance of potential cooperation with Russian festivals in the future.

'Cooperation between the European Festivals Association and the Russian Festivals Association is required to introduce the Russian arts to the European audience. The main area of our activity is promotion. Artists usually create according to their inward impulses, but any producer understands the importance of the audience. Our work is not just about communicating with promoters and large troupes, but also about establishing direct human contacts between certain individuals - that's the value of cooperation. Entering the Association you don't want to buy or to sell something; here you communicate with your colleagues, let this communication inspire you and share ideas. We are more a creative organization than a lobby one. We hope, the voice of Russia will also be heard in the dialogue of organizers of the global festivals, and the Russian Festivals Association will be able to become a member of EFA,' Kathrin Deventer noted.

The topic was continued by Jovanka Visekruna Jankovic, member of the Management Board of EFA and the President of the Serbian Festivals Association, who also congratulated her Russian colleagues with establishment of a new organization:

'There are a lot of amazing creative teams in Russia; there's a fantastic potential for growth and expansion of the audience - in Europe and all across the world. We will be glad to develop cooperation with mentors and instructors from Russia, as well as with musicians and ensembles; we'll be glad to promote them on the European level.'

Singularity of the festival format lies in its potential — not only creative, humanitarian, but also social and economic one. A successful festival can be a significant factor of development for modern cities. That's what Dmitry Grinchenko, moderator of the meeting and Director General of the Russian Concert Agency, reminded of.

'We can influence on people and interact with them through the art. People leave their apartments to interact with the urban environment. It would be excellent if this environment encouraged them to go to a concert hall or a theatre, but as long as it encourages people to go to a shopping mall or stay at home watching TV, that's what people would do. If we want academic arts to develop and gain the audience, the practice of creating foundations that develop various kinds of art and support interaction with people of art in cities is getting extremely interesting,' Dmitry Grinchenko emphasized.

Yeşim Gürer Oymak, Deputy Director of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts, spoke on how festivals could enrich the cultural life of cities.

'A festival always means new experience, new discoveries, new ideas, new artists, new forms of culture. It's a close interaction of artists with the audience and cities. To create interesting festivals we need to improve cooperation, develop new practices of this interaction. Festivals are great venues for enrichment of our cultures. There are great artists with inspiring ideas in every country, and we as festival directors should show introduce new talents to the world through a variety of means,' Yeşim Gürer Oymak emphasized.

Kim Sung-Kyu, Director of the Sejong Performing Arts Centre, provided successful examples of cultural interaction between South Korea and Russia, and shared plans of two countries for the nearest future.

'The Sejong Centre is interested in the Russian arts. Not long ago we presented Russian folk music in Korea; next spring the Centre will introduce Igor Moiseev’s ballet troupe to the ausience, and in autumn a ballet will be performed by the Mariinsky Theatre. Conductor Valery Gergiev and pianist Denis Matsuev are well known all over the world, and we plan to organize a program of performances of these outstanding artists in Seoul. In 2021, the Centre will organize the Hong Kong Week which will comprise a lot of performances. I hope that in the future the Russian Week will be held regularly in our country, since we try to overcome any cultural barriers in our activity,' Kim Sung-Kyu said.

Haris Pašović, a world renowned theatre and film director, Director of the East-West Sarajevo Centre, shared his vision of cooperation with Russia as well.

'Globalization is increasing, all the world turns into one big house. Today Europe needs Russian festivals, and Russia needs European ones. What's the use of cooperating with the European Festivals Association for the Russian Festivals Association? There are many reasons, including obvious ones: the European Festivals Association and its members present thousands of Russian artworks in the world - masterpieces of theatre, cinema, music and literature. I'm sure, Russian festivals also open works of European art for the public. It's the foundation of our cooperation, but we need to move forward. Today it's important to understand how we can help not large-scales festivals, but small-scale ones,' Haris Pašović noted.

The conclusion was made by Patrick de Clerck, Director of Music Projects for Brussels, head of the largest music festivals in Belgium.

'I have been establishing contacts between organizations and people for a long time, in Russia as well. A lot of joint projects have been implemented - successful or not quite. But it has always been useful for the society. I'm interested in uniting people from Europe, Russia, Asia, because we are all different. It's a pretty romantic idea, but I can see that it leads to establishment of extracontinental friendship. Interaction between countries is getting better which eventually makes our world a better place, expands boundaries of minds, boundaries of perception. We often withdraw into ourselves, while all we need is to be open to the world. And to do what has a positive effect - in Russia, Europe and Asia. People need to have fun and keen senses. Our activities encourage that,' Patrick de Clerck resumed.