The alumni community of The Festival Academy organises sessions with experts to share best practices and thought-provoking ideas that aim to inspire and promote discussion about festival-related topics.


  • How to Move a Festival Online? (09/04/2020)

Can festivals adapt to digital space? How do you curate an online festival? How do you engage the audience? Can you make a digital festival financially sustainable? This discussion looked at what happens to festivals and the arts when we could no longer gather as people. Sharing examples of digital art and online festivals, the participants explored the pros and cons of digitizing a festival and offer advice on the practicalities of moving performance online.

Speakers: Kate Craddock (GIFT - Gateshead International Festival of Theatre - United Kingdom), Sepehr Sharifzadeh (NH Theatre Agency - Iran); Nima Dehghani (Transdisciplinary Artist - United States/Iran), Asif Majid (Scholar, Artist and Educator - United Kingdom)

Moderators: Angele Galea (Artistic Director - Science in the City, Malta); Nada Shemais (Cairotronica)

Discussion 1 | Discussion 2

  • Back to Live: Programming in the Era of Physical Distancing (23/04/2020)

After just a few weeks of confinement, we were already forming new habits: hosting birthday parties online, going online to watch performances, crossing the street to keep our physical distance... How would we come out of this? What steps could we take to rebuild trust and invite people from different households to share an experience together?

Speakers: Fergus Linehan (Director and Chief Executive Edinburgh International Festival - United Kingdom); Rucera Seethal (Artistic Director of National Arts Festival Grahamstown - South Africa)

Moderators: Erica McCalman (Art Oracle - Australia); Fanny Martin (Art of Festivals - Canada)

Discussion 1 | Discussion 2

  • Social Impact: how do we deal with our community of people, needs and businesses? (07/05/2020)

This session offered the participants specific strategies and also general guidelines for a lasting impact on their communities, in and out of the Covid-context. How could festivals respond to contemporary urges and people’s needs? As connection-builders, how could they serve their community? How could they regenerate fragile neighborhoods? How could they represent the variety of folks within their town/city/capital? What long-term initiatives could they promote? Would a mind-shift through curation be enough? How are festival makers responsible for the world we live in? How could they take care of our audience? Could grants be investments? How are festivals going to survive when public funding is withdrawn or reduced with governments prioritizing other sectors due to COVID-19? How could they start relationships with private corporates? What do they do when neither public nor private funding is there?

Speakers: Renato Quaglia (General Director at the Foundation Foqus, Former managing Director of the Venice Biennale - Italy); Beth Ponte (Arts manager, researcher and independent consultant - Brazil)

Host: Matteo Penazzi (Lugo Music Festival - Italy); Luiz Coradazzi (Artistic Director at Theatro Municipal de São Paulo - Brazil)

Facilitator: Lily Hughes (Edinburgh International Culture Summit - Scotland)

Discussion 1 | Discussion 2

  • The Wellbeing of Artists (21/05/2020)

As we deepen into the crisis, there were various perspectives on festival management that had been addressed. Now the participants pivoted towards the core of this crisis – wellbeing. As festival organisers, what was their responsibility to artists at this time (and always)? What are the economic, social, professional, and mental challenges facing artists right now? What can be done to help? What might the future look like for artists and audiences? How could they safely sustain festivals? What kind of conversations should they be having with their artists?

Speakers: Meera Krishnan (Senior Arts Manager, Prakriti Foundation - India); Farooq Chaudhry (Producer, Akram Khan Company - United Kingdom)

Hosts: Tom Creed (Freelance Director - Ireland); Mauricio Lomelin (Producer of Contemporary Programming, Lincoln Center - United States of America)

Discussion 1 | Discussion 2

  • When the Doors Reopen (04/06/2020)

COVID-19 has hit hard in practically every aspect of our lives and economies. We, in the arts industries, have been severely affected. At the moment we are facing an unprecedented global reality and we do not know what our world will look like if/when this is over. Do we try to revive what we were doing before or do we need to re-think and reboot, with new approaches and new ideas? What will be the role of art and how do we prepare for a post-COVID world, where audiences may be anxious about coming back to watch theatre performances and other public events?

Speakers: Kyu Choi (Co-founder and Member of steering committee at Asia Producers’ Platform and APP Camp - South Korea), Yuan Zhang (Performing arts curator - China); Mengtong Guan (Executive and Creative Director at Ping Pong Productions), Emanuele Sinisi (Set Designer and lecturer at School of Fine Arts of Turin - Italy)

Host: Angele Galea (Producer and Artistic Director for More or Less Theatre, Artistic Consultant for Science in the City - Malta)

Discussion 1 | Discussion 2

  • Government Intervention and the Arts (16/10/2020)

Governments have always been conducting a complex relationship with artists. On one hand artists have been a major force to inspire social and political revolutions and on the other hand, artists have always contributed and enjoyed the existing social and political stability. The growing dependency on governmental support in the contemporary world for the arts has deepened the differences between artists coming from countries with well-funded governmental support for the arts and those that lack this support system. This leads to major questions about the liberation of artists and the arts from government influences and intervention. 

Speakers: Elad Schechter (Dancer and Choreographer, Founder of Agrippas to Jaffa Festival - Jerusalem); Claudia Billourou (Worldwide-active Stage Director, Set and Costume Designer, Creator and Director of the School of Art and Trades for the Contemporary Show of Theater of La Plata - Argentina), Gerardo Salinas (Artist and Curator, Member of KVS Artistic Direction Team, Playwright and Co-founder of the PROXIMAMENTE platform - Belgium/Latin America)

Moderators: Erica McCalman (Creative Producer and Consultant, Art Oracle - Australia); Juli Consigli (Founder of the Festival Internacional de Música Electroacústica and Virtuoso Records - Argentina), Cecilia Kuska (Co-curator of PROXIMAMENTE Festival, Guest Curator for Santiago a Mil Festival 2021 - Argentina/United Kingdom)

Discussion 1 | Discussion 2

  • Rethinking and Reimagining How We Programme (10/11/2020)

Starting from a proposition about our new shared reality – the widening inequality gap everywhere around the world - two main questions were on the table: how does this new shared reality change narrative and goals of arts programming? Facing the possibility of economic decline and a more precarious situation for arts funding, which strategies should we focus on more?

Speakers: Tisa Ho (Hong Kong Arts Festival), Joe Sidek (George Town Festival, Asia Forward Panel); Carole Karemera (Ishyo Arts Centre Rwanda), Tobias Kokkelmans (Operadagen Rotterdam)

Moderators: Tobias Kokkelmans (Operadagen Rotterdam); Angele Galea (Producer and Artistic Director for More or Less Theatre, Artistic Consultant for Science in the City - Malta)

Discussion 1 | Discussion 2

  • Arts and Well-being (21/12/2020)

Beginning with the premise of our shared reality everywhere around the world –, two main questions will be on the table: how can art professionals include practices like art therapy in their artistic activities? How big is the potential for that? How can the arts be seen as a way for self & group healing but also as a means for increasing performance? How feasible is it to include the connection between arts and well-being in our everyday activities?

Speakers: Alina Ivan (UK) [Researcher in psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Producer "Feedback Loops"], Jelle Dierickx (BE) [Festival Manager “Musica Divina”], Dr. Phil. Dimitrios Pantazidis (GR) [DIrector “Marble Art Museum”]; Chrisoula Plakioti (GR) [Art Therapists], Diya Naidu (IN) [Dancer Choreographer], Yafa Goawily (CA-EG) [Artist]

Moderators: Iannis Pantazidis (GR) [Cultural Manager]

Discussion 1 | Discussion 2

  • Festivals & the Climate Crisis (08/03/2021)

The climate crisis drastically alters our ways of living and consuming. Consequently, it also changes the ways in which we experience and organize cultural projects such as festivals. It does so from multiple angles: Fluctuating weather conditions or changed modes of mobility affect the festivals themselves. Festivals as ephemeral projects can, in turn, have an outsized impact on the environment. Yet, they’re also uniquely positioned to start and change conversations on a local and global scale by injecting impulses into the cultural and political sphere. With this in mind, we aimed to explore the climate crisis as a context. Global warming doesn’t affect everyone similarly and thus deepens already existing economic inequalities. How can international festivals foster a connected arts scene, and thus pay artists from different areas, while reducing travel? What forms of artistic responses to climate change already exist and which ones do we need to create? In a second step, we discussed the specifics of sustainable festival production by engaging with different best practice cases. Different approaches might focus on the behavior of the individual festival attendee or look at the festival as a whole; they might emphasize topics such as renewable energies, waste reduction or green mobility.

Speakers: Anna Mülter (Festival Theaterformen - Germany), Artur Mendes (BOOM Festival - Portugal), Emily Johnson (Dancer, Choreographer - Yup'ik Nation [United States of America]), Fine Stammnitz (Green Touring - Germany), Julia Gause (Fuchsbau Festival - Germany), Lázaro Rodríguez (Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol - Mexico) and Polly Gifford (Theatre Complicité, Culture Declares Emergency - United Kingdom)

Moderators: Christoffer Horlitz & Julia Gause (Fuchsbau Festival - DE)

Discussion 1 | Discussion 2

  • Festivals & Money (27/05/2021)

This session is designed to be a fast and fun gallop through the often uncomfortable and slippery realm of money, finance and funding. As the world tentatively emerges from the COVID crisis, we as festival makers are struck even more by money's mercurial nature. Some arts organisations have been flooded with resources to lead recovery through the arts for their city, region or country, others cut off even further from the modest income streams they had pre-2020.  It goes without saying that there are huge socio-political machinations implicated in all of this, which we do have the power to one day change over the long term. The question is: what can we do for ourselves right now? This session hopes to exercise and expand on practical methods, ideas and mindsets that we as festival makers can adopt today to gain a better insight into money and its strange behaviour whilst also improving our festivals and ourselves.

Speakers: Aubrey Bergauer (described as the "Steve Jobs of Classical Music", Designer of "The Long Haul Model" - United States of America), Hans Abbing (Visual Artist and renowned Cultural Economist - Netherlands), Menaka Rodriguez (Head-Resource Mobilisation and Outreach at India Foundation for the Arts - India), Teesa Bahana (Director of 32º East Ugandan Arts Trust - Uganda)

Moderator & Alumni Steering Committee representative: Glyn Roberts (Castlemaine State Festival - Australia)


  • LGBTQI+ communities and festivals (28/09/2021)

This session was designed to bring the rights differences among countries and within countries for LGBGTQI+ people closer to all participants. Session 12 provides room for this vital subject and how culture, communication and education can help to create space and equal rights for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

Themes covered, amongst others, are what “belonging” means to those being a part of the LGBTQI+ community, especially in conservative settings and societies, as for example, in Arequipa in Peru or in South Africa. Furthermore, we will have perspectives from other continents such as Europe and Africa to explore the differences and similarities in challenges LGBTQI+ people face in a contemporary context. We are also touching upon how government authorities can be made aware of the struggles LGBTQI+ face and how cultural activities and festivals can provide means of achieving a more inclusive climate. Furthermore, we will discuss which measurements on an individual and institutional level can be taken and how cultural activism can assist in fighting hatred and misconceptions against the LGBTQI+ community. The possibilities for an international network of cultural activists on fighting these issues are explored. Moreover, in an interactive setting, we consider how we can effectively overcome language barriers that might hinder possible advancements on the fight against LGBTQI+’s discrimination.

Speakers:  Alejandra Diaz Loo (English professor, researcher and women's and LGBTQI+ activist - Peru), Jesús Martínez (writer, lecturer and LGBTQI+ researcher - Peru/France), Tutu Zondo (Film and Television Creator, Creative Directors of Vogue Nights Jozi and LGBTIQ+ rights advocate - South Africa), Beverley Ditsie (Non-conforming lesbian activist, award-winning filmmaker and LGBTIQ+ rights advocate - South Africa)

Moderator & Alumni Steering Committee representative: Ángela Delgado (Hay Festival)