Diversity, Community and Festival – Interviewing Inge Ceustermans

(Source: The Festival Academy)

European Festivals Association’s (EFA) The Festival Academy is an exciting international project, which offers training on festival management to young festival makers worldwide. It was set up in 2012 following the success of one of its training programmes the Atelier for Young Festival Managers which was initiated by EFA in 2006. Today the Alumni network counts more than 500 participants from over 70 different countries and all continents!  The Festival Academy offers a platform for global networking and cultural exchange, and it is our pleasure to interview Inge Ceustermans, the managing director of the organisation, to learn more about it.

Inge Ceustermans – managing director

 

The Atelier was initiated in 2006 by EFA to fill the absence of training in artistic aspects of festival management, and to develop young festival managers’ understanding in both management and arts. Inge adds:

 

 ‘Festival managers have to be good at many things today. They have to be good communicators, social media experts, financial managers, marketeers etc. But it is important to remember what the essence of festivals is: art and the artists!’

 

In other words, The Festival Academy challenges their participants to reflect on the socio-political significances of arts and festivals within the global world of today.

 

Inge emphasizes that The Festival Academy aims to create a non-hierarchal learning environment, in which participants learn from experienced festival managers but also vice versa. Since every participant comes from a different background, their approaches in management may vary greatly. By positioning the participants in an international environment, managers can learn from each other and perfect their understanding in festival management. Throughout the training, participants gain perspective, widen their views, and learn the most appropriate practices in different contexts.

 

‘We have, in our training programmes, people from small festivals only run on crowdfunding and people from established institutes. They work in totally different conditions, but what they share is the passion to realise something, to create something. It’s all about this yearning feeling in your stomach that you ‘need’ to do that thing. And you make it happen!’

 

The Festival Academy is also significant to the European Festivals Association’s belief in diversity and the wealth of different cultures:

 

‘With rising populism, walls-building and xenophobia, the role of the community is ever more important. So creating this global network and enabling a global conversation are very crucial. These problems today are not the issues of one continent or let alone one nation, but need to be addressed globally. Solving Europe’s or other continent’s problems is linked to solving problems in other parts of the world, and for this, we need to go beyond borders  in dialogue, analyses, solutions and action.’

 

In short, The Festival Academy aims to create a global community where different cultures are united, and is a platform which facilitates celebration, communication, or even reconciliation.

 

To summarise the impact of The Festival Academy in five words, following the evaluations of participants, it is all about ‘networking, inspiration, self-confidence, new collaborations and skills’, and more than often generates a “boost” in the alumni’s professional and personal life.

 

Click here to learn more about the European Festival Association’s The Festival Academy, and check out their upcoming events.

(Source: The Festival Academy)

 

On the next blog, Inge will share more about the importance of diversity and how The Festival Academy is dedicated to creating a cosmopolitan learning environment where everyone’s voice is heard.

 

Follow The Festival Academy on Facebook  now!

Angus Wu

 

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