PuSh Blog

Joyce Rosario at Atelier for Young Festival Managers

May 08, 2014

So, what happens at the PuSh Festival office after the festival closes?

In terms of the 2014 Festival that has just passed, there’s the reports, accounting, statistics. For the 2015 Festival to come, there’s planning, budgeting, projections. It’s also an important time for rest, reflection and research. Artistic & Executive Director Norman Armour has just returned from two months in Argentina. At the beginning of April, I spent seven days as a participant in the European Festival Association’s Atelier for Young Festival Managers.

I was part of the cohort for the Edinburgh edition, hosted by the Edinburgh International Festival. The Atelier brought together 51 young festival managers from 28 countries and nine renowned festival directors from all over the world who were our mentors. I now join a group of 223 alumni from 56 countries.

To spend an intensive seven days immersed in the world of festivals amongst peers from around the world was inspiring and rejuvenating. There’s something about taking yourself out of the day-to-day, to an unfamiliar place with people who don’t know each other that allows you to reflect and focus on issues, themes and ideas that are most important to you.

Festivals do not exist in a vacuum. While they happen in a specific place over a specified period of time doesn’t remove festivals from what is happening in the city and in the world on a socio-economic, political level.

Some of the most potent conversations I had were with peers who come from very different circumstances – a Palestinian from Jerusalem, an Israeli from Tel Aviv running a festival in Jerusalem; a childrens’ festival director from Cairo, Egypt; Maori curators from New Zealand.

I was only one of two people from North America (the other was from the US) but the both of us immigrants (me, first generation from Filipino parents and she, almost 20 years in New York from Turkey). Many others in the group could identify similarly; an Italian working in Germany, an Australian in Indonesia.

Identity these days is fluid. It’s always been the case, and I thought more so in the current geo-political landscape. However, I was reminded of the very real borders that exist for others. Festivals, while temporary, serve as a liminal, ‘in-between’ space where barriers can be broken down. The dialogue that comes out of coming together and responding to the work we see, can help us to envision future possibilities of how we want to be together.

During the 10th anniversary of the Festival, we reflected most on people and place. In meeting new people, learning about their cities and how their festivals are situated in those places I gained a new lens on my own practice, my work here in Vancouver and with PuSh. I kept returning to the idea of the role of festivals in my own home, the place of arts and culture in civic dialogue and how we relate to each other and this place.

Circles are powerful. This space at The Hub in Edinburgh was home base for our seven days together as a group. Photo: Clark James.
Small circles are powerful too. Here’s a small discussion group led by Nele Hertling, Vice President of the Academy of Arts Berlin, Germany (and a legend in the contemporary dance scene in Berlin). Photo: Clark James.
On the left, Anirban Sen (Assistant Manager at NUS Centre for the Arts in Singapore). Photo: Clark James.
Class photo. Just like in elementary school, I’m in the front row with my eyes closed. Photo: Clark James.

Have a look at the visual narrative of the Atelier Edinburgh 2014 here: https://clarkjamesdigital.exposure.co/efaatelier2014

Find out more about the Atelier for Young Festival Managers and the European Festivals Association, and at their Facebook page. Past host cities for the Atelier include Goerlitz, Varna, Imzir, Singapore (where Norman was a guest mentor) and Ljubljana. The next edition will take place this October in Poznan. If you are a festival manager, applications are open until May 30th.

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