Mentors & guest speakers

Mentors and guest speakers at the training programmes are renowned festival directors, cultural activists and artists, as well as people working in different fields of action such as the political, social, humanitarian and technological. Mentors are present throughout, not only as lecturers, but fully engaged in (one-on-one) conversations and guidance of the participants. International and regional guest speakers are invited to add extra insights and perspectives on the different topics.

Carolina Courbis Bascuñán, participant in the Atelier Merano 2017

"What I feel that what’s very valuable from the Atelier is: (...) The amazing pool of mentors that shared their experience with us. A group of real experts in their fields from a range of backgrounds, that were generous enough to tell us about their stories, ideas, achievements and failures, but overall that were genuinely open to have an horizontal conversation with us which in every single case, nurtured our idea of festivals."

100+ mentors/presenters have allowed insights into their careers

Mentors and guest speakers all allow participants an honest and open insight into their careers including both success stories and failures. They share their motivation and explain their (artistic) choices in view of The Festival Academy’s mission. 

Following the most recent Atelier NEXT, Eurometropolis region BE/FR  (November 2019) and the pilot edition of Digital (R) Evolution, Antwerp BE (January 2020) 100+ mentors & guest speakers coming from 40+ countries and all continents have taken part. 

Robyn Archer

“As mentors and presenters I know we will get at least as much out of the participants as they may get out of us in the coming week. It should be understood at the outset that there are very few differences between us as mentors and you as participants, except perhaps in terms of experience. We are all participants in the Atelier.”

Pool of Festival Experts and Artists

  • Jerry Aerts, General Manager and Artistic Director deSingel International Arts Campus - Belgium
  • Shahidul Alam, writer and human rights activist, initiator of Chobi Mela International Photography Festival - Bangladesh
  • Robyn Archer, Artistic Director The Light in Winter Melbourne – Australia
  • Hortense Archambault, Director MC93 Maison de la Culture de la Seine Saint-Denis -  France
  • Parvin Ardalan, Activist & Journalist - Iran
  • Norman Armour, Executive Director PuSH International Performing Arts Festival Vancouver – Canada
  • Ashraf Atraqchi, Artist, Arts Critic, Curator - Iraq
  • Mantse Aryeequaye , Co-director Chale Wote Festival – Ghana
  • Steve Austen, Permanent Fellow Felix Meritis Foundation - The Netherlands
  • Mark Ball, Associate Artistic Director of Manchester International Festival (MIF) - UK
  • Airan Berg, Artistic Director and Theatre Maker - Festival der Regionen in Upper Austria - Austria 
  • Darko Brlek, Artistic and General Director Ljubljana Festival - Slovenia
  • Andrea Caruso Saturnino, Director Cena Aberta, Sao Paulo - Brazil
  • Seok Kyu Choi, Creative Producer AsiaNow Productions - South Korea
  • Camilla Colombo, Founder Ohme - Belgium
  • Guy Coolen, Artistic and General Director Muziektheater Transparant and Artisic Director Operadagen Rotterdam – Belgium/ The Netherlands 
  • Luiz Coradazzi, Cultural Consultant, Founder Pangea Cultura and former Director Arts British Council Brazil - Brazil
  • Valentina Corona, Director Playwave - Sydney/ Australia
  • Christopher Crimes, Consultant/Advisor to [N!A] Project and Eleusis 2021 European Capital of Culture - France/Greece/UK 
  • Katrijn De Wit, Coordinator Press & Audience Development deSingel - Belgium 
  • Kelly Diapouli, Artistic Director Capital of Culture Eleusis 2021
  • Jelle Dierickx, Director Festival van Vlaanderen Mechelen / Lunalia - Belgium / Germany
  • Tom Creed, Opera & Theatre Director - UK 
  • Rania Elias, Director Yabous Cultural Centre and Jerusalem Festival - Palestine
  • Bernard Faivre d’Arcier, President Lyon Biennial - France
  • Marie-Hélène Falcon, Former Director Festival TransAmériques Montréal - Canada
  • Rose Fenton, Co-Founder and Former Director LIFT Festival, Former Director Free Word - UK
  • Pedro Affonso Ivo Franco, International consultant for culture, arts and creative economy - Brazil
  • Cristina Fuentes - International Director Hay Festival, UK/ South America
  • Vallejo Gantner, Artistic & Executive Director Onassis Foundation - USA 
  • Heiner Goebbels, Artistic Director Ruhrtrienniale - Germany
  • Ching-Lee Goh, Executive and Artistic Director CultureLink Singapore - Singapore
  • Keitu Gwangwa, Head Windybrow Arts Centre - South Africa 
  • Khaled Harara, Hip-Hop Artist – Palestine
  • Yvette Hardie, ASSITEJ Director - South Africa
  • Agnes Havas, Director Armel Opera Festival - Hungary 
  • Leila Heinriques, Director ‘Hani: The Legacy’ - South Africa 
  • Gavin Henderson, Artistic Director Dartington International Summer School - UK
  • Nele Hertling, Member Strategy Group “A Soul for Europe” - Germany
  • Tzvetelina Iossifova, Director Red House for Culture and Debate - Bulgaria
  • Vigdis Jakobsdottir, Artistic Director and CEO Reykjavik Arts Festival - Iceland.
  • Hjamar Jorge Joffre-Eichhorn, Theatre activist, co-founder Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization, Theatre of the Oppressed and Playback Theatre - Germany / Bolivia / Afghanistan 
  • Carole U. Karemera, Artistic director of Ishyo Arts Centre - Rwanda
  • William Kentridge, Craftsman, performer and filmmaker / the Centre for the Less Good Idea - South Africa 
  • Nicolas Klimis, Founders Ohme - Belgium
  • Marta Keil, Curator, dramaturg and researcher - Poland
  • Seonghee Kim, Artistic Director Asia Culture Center Theatre - South Korea
  • Elisabeth Knauf, Production Manager Hebbel am Ufer - Germany
  • Nevenka Koprivsek, Artistic Director Mladi Levi Festival - Slovenia
  • Celestine Kubelka, Production Manager Wiener Festwochen - Austria
  • Wai-Lap Kwong, Programme Director Guangdong Modern Dance Festival - China
  • Bronwyn Lace, Animateur for the Centre for the Less Good Idea - South Africa 
  • Gundega Laivina, Artistic Director New Theatre Institute of Latvia - Latvia
  • Grace Lang, Programme Director Hong Kong Festival - China
  • Annet Lekkerkerker, Managing Director Holland Festival - The Netherlands
  • Kee Hong Low, Head of Artistic Development West Kowloon Cultural District Hong Kong - Singapore
  • Hongming Lin, Professor and Dean of the Art Management Department of Shanghai Conservatory of Music - China
  • Roy Luxford, Programme Director Edinburgh International Festival - UK
  • Ruth Mackenzie CBE, Artistic Director Théâtre du Châtelet - France 
  • Ismail Mahomed, Chief Executive Officer of the Market Theatre Foundation - South Africa
  • Yolanda Markopoulou, Co-founder & Curator mind the fact,  line producer major cultural institutions  – Greece
  • Erica McCalman, Creative Producer and Consultant, Art Oracle - Australia
  • Sir Brian McMaster, Former Director Edinburgh International Festival - UK
  • Joseph V. Melillo, Artistic Director Brooklyn Academy of Music New York - US
  • Jinghui Meng, Artistic Director Beijing Fringe Festival, WuZhen Theatre Festival, Beijing Bee Hive Theatre - China
  • Michał Merczyński, Director Malta Festival Poznan, Nostalgia Festival Poznan - Poland
  • Sir Jonathan Mills, Former Director Edinburgh International Festival - UK
  • Gerard Mortier, Former General Director Teatro Real de Madrid; †2014
  • Roberto Naccari, General Manager Santarcangelo Festival - Italy
  • Eva Neklyaeva, Former Artistic Director Santarcangelo Festival Italy, director Checkpoint Helsinki, Baltic Circle International Contemporary Theatre Festival - Belarus 
  • Siphiwe Ngwenya, Curator & Founder The Maboneng Township Arts Experience
  • Ricardo Peach, Director Vrystaat Kunstefees/Arts Festival/Tsa-Botjhaba
  • Brett Pyper, Associate Professor and Head Wits School of Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg - South Africa
  • Carmen Romero Quero, Executive Director Teatro a Mil Foundation - Chile
  • Mark Russell, Founder and Co-Director Festival Under the Radar - USA
  • Ong Keng SEN (Ph.D.), Artistic Director TheatreWorks and Artspace 72-13 Singapore, founder Arts Network Asia and the International Curators Academy - Singapore
  • Marie-Agnès Sevestre, Director Festival des Francophonies en Limousin - France
  • Sepehr Sharifzadeh, Artistic Director NH Theatre agency – Iran 
  • Graham Sheffield, Director Art British Council London - UK
  • Mandisi Sindo, Theatre4Change Arts Project
  • Chiaki Soma, Representative Director of Arts Commons Tokyo - Japan
  • Galin Stoev, Founder Fingerprint Company - Belgium/Bulgaria
  • Tom Stromberg, Former Director Impulse Festival - Germany
  • Fruzsina Szép, Festival Director Berlin Festival & Lollapalooza Berlin Hörstmann Unternehmensgruppe HUG - Germany
  • Gebing Tian, Director, Founder and Artistic Director of Paper Tiger Theatre Studio - China
  • Frosyni Trousa, Artistic Director ARC for DANCE Festival – Greece 
  • Monica Urian, Programme Manager European Commission
  • Han van Poucke, Head of Production Holland Festival - The Netherlands
  • Mike Van Graan, President African Cultural Policy Network - South Africa
  • Carla Van Zon, Artistic Director Auckland Arts Festival - New Zealand
  • Monique Veaute, President Fondazione Romaeuropa - Arte e Cultura - Italy
  • Matthias Vogt, Institut für kulturelle Infrastruktur Sachsen - Germany
  • Grayson Wambach, Creator/ Producer - US
  • Catherine J. Wang, President of the Centre for China Shanghai International Arts Festival - China
  • Alain Weber, Artistic Director Fez Sacred Music Festival - Morocco
  • Nick Rongjun YU, chief director of ACT Shanghai International Theatre Festival – China
  • Danny Yung, Experimental art pioneer, influential artist, Founding member and Co-Artistic Director of Zuni Icosahedron - Hong Kong
  • Arkadi Zaides, Artist/ Choreographer - France 
  • Joyce Rosario, Independent Curator/Producer - Canada
  • Ophelia Huang, Director of International Affairs in Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center (SDAC) and Programme Director of ACT Shanghai International Theatre Festival - China
Frosyni Trousa at the Atelier Eleusis in February 2019 (photo by ConstantinosTheodorou)

Experts from other fields of action

Foundations, policy making, science, social movements, education, digital and new technologies etc. 

  • Carole Gürtler, Head Department Levant, Drosos Foundation (Zurich) - Switzerland
  • Karin Hansson, Coordinator ICORN - Sweden
  • Cathrine Helland, Communication Manager International Cities of Refuge Network  (ICORN) - Norway
  • HOWEST, School of Arts Digital and new technologies, Kortrijk Belgium
  • Manon Muti, Peace and Justice  Digital Security Training - The Netherlands
  • Keith Nurse (PhD), Principal/President Sir Arthur Lewis Community College Morne Fortune, St. Lucia and Unesco Expert - Caribbean
  • Brett Pyper - Associate Professor and Head of the Wits School of Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, former CEO of the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (Absa KKNK) - South Africa
  • Anthony Richter, Director Special Initiatives Open Society Foundations New York - USA
  • Oussama Rifahi, Board member and Executive Director 2010 - 2016 Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) - Germany/Lebanon 
  • Cynthia Schneider, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy; Co-Director Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics Georgetown University, Co-Director MOST Resource, Co-Director Timbuktu Renaissance, Former US Ambassador to the Netherlands - US
  • Susanna Seidl-Fox, Program director for culture and the arts Salzburg Global Seminar - Austria
  • Mike Verledens, Sparklink - Belgium