In retrospect

The Atelier for Young Festival Managers in Gwangju, South Korea took place from 31 August to 6 September 2015, and was hosted by the Chonnam National University and the Asia Culture Centre. It confirmed the success and necessity of providing training opportunities for early career professionals and to collaborate across continents. The 35 participants from 20 countries joined the ever-growing Alumni Network, which now counts 335 future festival leaders from 65 countries amongst its members.

Emily Bendix, participant from Denmark

Back home in Copenhagen after a week spent in Gwangju, South Korea, the thoughts gathered during the Atelier for Young Festival Managers start to form new shapes in my head. At the Atelier I found myself in a room full of curious, creative and hardworking people engaged in the arts all over the world. Each one of us having very different realities and backgrounds, but all of us in various ways struggling to make the world a better place through our work.

Warm welcome to Gwangju

The opening ceremony on 31 August was hosted by Professor InSul Kim. Jee Byung-moon, President of the Chonnam National University (CNU), and Jongman Choi, President of the Institute of Asian Culture Development, welcomed the 35 participants from 20 countries and 7 mentors to the second Atelier in Asia. In his welcome speech, Jee Byung-moon referred to the role of festivals in our globalised world. He highlighted their importance for breaking barriers and promoting a spirit of community. Jongman Choi introduced the Asia Culture Centre. He emphasised the role of Gwangju as a vital artistic city and invited the participants to make the most of their experience in the city.

Photo credit to GabJoo,Ahn

High-level festival managers from across the globe

Six renowned festival managers from all over the world guided the participants through lectures, one-on-one talks and intense workshops under the coordination of Hugo De Greef. They included:

  • Robyn Archer, Artistic Director The Light in Winter Melbourne, Australia 
  • Marie-Hélène Falcon, former Director Festival TransAmériques Montréal, Canada
  • Nele Hertling, Member Strategy Group “A Soul for Europe”, Germany
  • Seonghee Kim, Artistic Director Asia Culture Center Theater, South Korea 
  • Chiaki Soma, Art Producer, Japan
  • Monique Veaute, President Fondazione Romaeuropa - Arte e Cultura, Italy

Find out more about the presenters here.

Seonghee Kim, Artistic Director Asia Culture Center Theater - Photo credit to GabJoo,Ahn

Intense 7-day programme

The programme of the Atelier Gwangju aimed to foster cultural exchanges, and support participants in developing their personal projects through lectures, debates, small topic-based working groups, practical activities and case studies. Exchanges with artists and leading cultural institutions from the region were an excellent opportunity to link insights gained in the working sessions with the concrete environment.

Check out the full 7-day programme.

Participants and presenters of the Atelier Gwangju - Photo credit to GabJoo,Ahn

Determined to act

In her closing lecture on 6 September at the ACC Theater, Robyn Archer revisited the week, it's discussions, highlights and challenges. She said: "I think one of the powerful aspects of each Atelier is that both participants and mentors all leave with a feeling of impatience. We are inspired by many things that are said, frustrated by the things that are not said, or not said in enough depth (because one week is never enough), but we all leave determined to act, to try to put into place the ideas or practices which have been given to us, or which have occurred to us, during these days."

Photo credit to GabJoo,Ahn
Inge Ceustermans, Managing Director The Festival Academy

“The Atelier is first and foremost about sharing: sharing your ideas, knowledge, dreams, tastes, artists etc. It is a space to dream a better world and to reflect on the role art, culture and festivals can play in this context. You will learn a lot from the mentors, your colleague festival managers, the people from Gwangju. But: also think about what you can offer, what you have to give, what people can learn from you.”

More insights


Blogs by participants on Festival Bytes:

Atelier Gwangju 2015 online

Photo credit to GabJoo,Ahn