The Festival Academy

Artists, Art & Culture - World - Festivals - Conversation - People - ACT

Who we are?

The Festival Academy believes festivals are bridging platforms with a direct link to people and civil society structures. We believe a critical reflection between artists,  arts and cultural managers worldwide and cross-sectoral stakeholders can bring about positive change, informed awareness, ideas and proposals for actions through personal human relations and based on knowing, respecting and tolerating different value and belief systems. We are a global community of more than 1400 festival managers from 100+ countries today.

What we do?

We offer various training formats and peer to peer exchange on festival management to emerging, dynamic and passionate festival makers worldwide coming from all art disciplines and from very diverse geographical, cultural and social backgrounds. 

There are numerous leadership and capacity building programmes but few starting from the artistic focus of a festival, and with a global dimension and vision of this project, and more especially, the cultural dimension of the challenges facing the world. The project continues building and empowering a global network of festival managers and a conversation which does not stay amongst ourselves but between and beyond the world of festivals and different fields of action. It generates awareness about festivals and their role in society today, their capacity to be vehicles for social change, social cohesion, strengthening human rights values and global diversity, with the aim to create a more open and tolerant society. 

Atelier Johannesburg 2018


Through our unique life-long learning programmes in the arts festivals context, we bring together an enormous variety of creative minds: individual actors to be up-skilled and informed about the state of play of the world today by experts and through peer-to-peer learning, who are given a time out to reflect critically on the role of festivals in today’s world, infused by people of different backgrounds and perspectives to challenge and provoke our thinking or the way we do things. Our purpose is to generate positive change, using creativity to imagine a world today where future generations can (still) live in peace with each other regardless different belief systems and values, where fair ways of collaboration are being considered and practiced, where we anticipate and look into opportunities and challenges the digital revolution brings along for festivals and much more.

Join us on a journey of exchange and exploration, guided by experienced festivals managers, artists and activists coming from across the globe. Come and meet peers from all over the world and become part of a new global network! 

Atelier Valletta 2019

Vision & Mission: Global change through arts and culture


We envision a world where all people regardless race, gender, social background, sexual orientation can equally enjoy and participate in cultural life and festivals; where festivals can reflect - through incorporating human rights values - the real world experience of all of us, furthering social and economic justice and human dignity and catalysing positive change on a local, regional, national and even global level.


Enable and facilitate a global inclusive conversation and critical reflection between festival managers from different art disciplines, origins, generations and social backgrounds on the role that arts, culture and more particularly festivals, can play in a fast changing world. 

  • Upskilling and informing festival managers on the state of play in the world today.
  • Global Community Building: Build bridges between different fields of actions, being the artistic, social, political and business world.
  • Developing a knowledge center to be shared with a broad (festival) community.
  • Provide innovative tools to policy makers based on the knowledge gathered from the field and guidelines on the implementation of these.
  • Enable, empower and encourage a global network of festival managers, a peaceful movement of activists, who can catalyse change in their communities on a local, regional, national and even global level.
  • Engage in global partnerships to set a joint agenda taking into account the different realities of different regions and continents.
Atelier Budapest 2016

Capacity Building: Exchanging and constructing know-how

The Festival Academy shares, exchanges and constructs know-how on festival management. Through empowering a new generation of emerging leaders and generating new professional opportunities for festival makers, it develops and sustains a network of festival leaders of the future wherein capacity building and internationalisation are key. The training programmes within The Festival Academy are one of EFA’s core activities. 

The Festival Academy considers the art and the artists as the essence of festivals. The different training programmes start from this conviction, but focus on topics and issues raised by the participants: artistic vision, political and social responsibility in relation to the cultural and artistic significance of a festival in its community or region, as well as engaging with migrant communities, accessibility and inclusivity, sustainability, political and social responsibility, freedom of speech and (more) equal international collaborations. 

Atelier Valletta 2019

Unique training formats

All training formats create opportunities by connecting local and international professionals, foster the development of new and long-term collaborations, and encourage an exchange of know-how. All programmes are designed in close exchange with the local partner, thanks to which participants get to know the local cultural sector, the visibility of the city increases and local artists are supported. 

If you are a festival or a cultural organization and you are interested to co-organise one of our programmes, feel free to contact us at

  • Atelier for Young Festival Managers: This intense training programme offers the opportunity to up to 35 passionate festival makers of all kinds of artistic disciplines, coming from all over the world to spend 7 days together with a group of young and experienced festival leaders, cultural activists and artists to have a global conversation about today’s challenges and the role art and culture can play in these. The Atelier is about: gaining new perspectives, exploring the essence of the why and how of (your) festivals in a global context, share and exchange experiences and reflect on the topics that concern you. Mentors and guest speakers share their rich experience and answer participants’ questions along the way, passing on knowledge to the next generation of festival makers.
  • Festival Production Management Training: This three module programme selects up to 20 participants and focuses especially on production management in terms of realising and implementing the vision of the artistic director.  The training is set up as a long-term programme which explores all phases of producing an artistic work: It consists of an introductory and concluding workshop as well as a hands-on placement at a festival worldwide.
  • Festival Readings: During three days high-level speakers from the festival sector give lectures on their experience in managing festivals. The readings take place during a festival and are addressed at the professional audience attending a festival. Speakers are present during the three days and exchange with the participants.
  • Digital (R)evolution: Communication and New Technologies Training is a new training format of The Festival Academy that addresses various fields of festival management (communication, marketing, social media, community building, educational outreach programmes, artistic choices...). During the 4-day programme 25 participants from across the globe will take part, inspired by and guided through the programme by an international group of experts from the festivals field, the technological world, and civil society experts
  • Tailor made Ateliers. The Festival Academy has a proven expertise in organising training programmes for very diverse and international groups of cultural and festival leaders of the future, which turn out to be - more than often - life-changing experiences for the participants. Parallel to these activities, with a global scope on all levels, the organisation develops tailor made programmes for festival managers from a specific region focusing on specific needs related to that region addressing topics and challenges they encounter. The programmes are guided by expert festival managers, artists and cultural professionals from the region and abroad.

An initiative of the European Festivals Association

The European Festivals Association (EFA) initiated the Atelier for Young Festival Managers in 2006, and launched The Festival Academy in 2013.

EFA has been uniting distinguished music, dance, theatre and multidisciplinary arts festivals from Europe and beyond for more than 60 years. EFA’s members are the core element that make the Association an open, influential, international place for any festival that wants to be part of a bigger festival community. EFA brings festivals together to inspire one another, fosters an exchange of knowledge, helps festivals to speak with one strong voice to shape policy developments, increases networking opportunities, and keeps festivals informed about issues at stake in the festival and cultural world, all under the flag of artistic excellence and internationalisation. Since its foundation, the Association has grown from 15 festivals into a dynamic network representing about 100 music, dance, theatre and multidisciplinary festivals, national festival associations and cultural organisations from 40 countries.

EFA develops various key activities including the investigation on quality in festivals through the EFFE – Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe programme, and concentrates on working relations with colleagues across the globe, especially in Africa and Asia. The training programmes within The Festival Academy are one of EFA’s core activities.