Testimonies

719 young festival leaders from 100+ countries worldwide have now participated in one of our training programmes and they have a lot to say about their experience with us!

Atelier for Solidarity Booklet

Check our digital booklet here!

Mauricio Lomelin, Lincoln Center New-York, USA

“I gained a lot of insight on how others are handling the crisis; I am being left with a lot to reflect on and what my goal is for the near future.” 

Co-facilitator Atelier for Solidarity - 2020

Chipo Pasopo Precious, Chipawo Trust, Zimbabwe

“The power of coming together and fight the same storm” 

Atelier for Solidarity - 2020

George Mario Attard, Independent, Gozo Island Malta

“A platform where mutually motivated human beings from around the world who are passionate about culture could come together in solidarity to connect and share useful knowledge which could be applied in our respective local contexts to address the issues we face today.”

Atelier for Solidarity - 2020

Jeanne-Renée Lorrain, FestivalTransAmeriques, Canada

“Intensely rich, awakening and decolonizing experience, a call to action and connection that will be fruitful for a long time.”

Atelier for Solidarity - 2020

Joshua Alabi, Kininso Koncepts Productions, Nigeria

"The Atelier was mind shifting, inspirational, and highly motivational which gives me the confidence that my career has reached and widened to a bigger level with new skills acquired. I am very happy."

Atelier for Solidarity - 2020

Lelde Hermane, Dance support foundation "Zvaigznu AkA", Latvia

"This Atelier gave a sense of closeness when it was unavailable, it gave us the opportunity to work together, support each other and get answers to the questions we were so much looking for.”

Atelier for Solidarity - 2020

Antoine Thiolier

"My intention is to revalue the notion of network, which sometimes sounds a little vague. I believe that the artistic community works through elective affinities. These connections come from face-to-face meetings and not from off-ground partnerships. If we want to think big about the problems of our time, we must give ourselves the means to establish affinities on the right scale. This Atelier responds to this challenge."

Atelier Next 2019

Megan Pagado Wells

“I'm taking home relationships with other festival managers and professionals and the knowledge that although we are in many different contexts, we are facing the same issues.

Seeing so much passion about the issue of climate change has really reinforced for me that the work my festival and workplace is doing around sustainability and climate change is valid and should be continued, possibly in a more radical way.

I am bringing home the desire to further connect with participants and find ways to continue our relationships and conversations.”

Atelier Next 2019

Airan Berg

“It is an opportunity to link up with the next generation festival makers and to also learn from them, to see what kind of new thinks are happening in the world, create new relationships and partnerships with people I might have never met if I had not come here.”

Atelier Next 2019

Joanna Broniec

“I did not expect to meet so many people from such different parts of the world. It allowed me to see not only my festival but also my country, my expectations, viewpoints, knowledge and opinions in a completely different perspective. It opened my mind and gave me so much inspiration. I learned a lot on the issues that I'm experiencing and have so many ideas and inspiration on the ways we can work through them.”

Atelier Next 2019

After movie Atelier Valletta 2019

The 15th edition of the Festival Academy’s Atelier for Young Festival Managers, took place from 23 - 29 March 2019 in Valletta, Malta, organised in partnership with Festivals Malta. 32 selected applicants attended the 7-day training programme during which they have discussed various aspects of festival management with renowned festival managers from pioneering festivals and outstanding art centres and institutes from all over the world.

Evegnia Kavvadia, Eleusis ECoC 2021, Greece

"One of the treasures of the 16nth Atelier in Malta was the opportunity to share questions and thoughts with our "distant relatives", people from the Arab region, Africa, people from continents that aren't that far! 

Culture was the context within which we were able to talk about our cultures, but never taken for granted. The Atelier offered the opportunity to deconstruct the usual dipoles of West and East, and tackle topics such as artistic excellence and mass audiences, culture and economy and reset new standars towards new shapes of creativity, fresh approaches to our work and to our worlds. 

Malta, one of the most historical crossroads of the Mediterranean was the perfect setting of that unique experience!"

Atelier Valletta 2019

Angele Galea, Artistic Consultant, Malta

"The Atelier provided us an environment to meet and discuss issues we as festival management go through. Relevant and important concerns were examined meticulously and everyone was willing to share their experiences. With each exercise and presentation we could all feel enriched by the process. It was a great opportunity for networking and such fun. Thank you."

Atelier Valletta 2019

Grayson Wambach, Creator and Producer, USA

Grayson was a participant in the Atelier for Young Festival Managers in Valletta, Malta 2019 and in January 2020 he took part, as a mentor, in the pilot edition of Digital (R)Evolution: A Communication & New Technologies Training (Antwerp, BE). 

Referring to the Atelier Malta, he says 'I built relationships from that experience that have allowed me the opportunity to collaborate with Malta’s Science in the City Festival, the Edinburgh International Cultural Summit, and Baybeats Music Festival in Singapore.'

Atelier Valletta 2019

Matteo Pennazzi, Festival Manager, Lugo Music Festival, Italy

“Be ready for what you would never expect. Be ready to enjoy each minute, each talk, each break, each meal because that’s going to be so surprisingly interesting.”

Atelier Valletta 2019

Luiz Corradazzi, Founder Pangea Cultura, Brazil

“It is a privilege and an opportunity to, more than getting to know other people, getting to know your own experiences, in more depth. It is really a luxury to be away from home for a few days in a different context and having reality shocks every day. I think the festival atelier is an opportunity to get to know yourself better and think everything through in a very safe environment.”

Mentor Atelier Valletta 2019

Robyn Archer, Artistic Director The Light in Winter Festival, Australia

“My experience of the atelier has been fantastic. I consider an enormous privilege to be invited into this authentic vulnerable space. I enjoyed it very much because so much of festival directors is being the front, the face, the confidence, the outspoken and we need a place in which we can be vulnerable. I think that for a mentor, it is exactly the same as it is for a participant.”

Mentor Atelier Valletta 2019

Shahidul Alam, Chobi Mela International Photography Festival, Bangladesh

“Each festival is different, each situation is different, and we have so much to learn from one another. A safe place where you can open yourself up to your insecurities in some cases and talk about your dreams and ambitions, it is not so common. And to have such a diverse group of people and such a fine group of mentors is quite rare.” 

Keynote speaker Atelier Valletta 2019

Lily Hughes, Edinburgh International Culture Summit, UK

“So far, the experience of being at the atelier has been really intense and just an incredible moment of learning and sharing. I think of reflection and growth and just being able to be with these people, learn about their challenges, think through those challenges with them. It’s nice to know that there is a collective global concern and that we can all come together.”

Atelier Valletta 2019

Hitomi Matsumoto, P3 art and environment, Japan

'The 7-day program was so substantial. There were presentations of festivals by all participants, discussions on various topics to be considered in carrying out festivals, presentations by working groups, and cultural visits to several spots in Malta. What was impressive for me was that there was rarely one-way lecture format, and most of the time was spent on discussions and communications between the participants.'

You can read more about her experience at the Atelier here.

Atelier Valletta 2019

Adel Abdelwahab, Theatre is a Must - Egypt

‘For me it was very valuable to be here, it was really inspiring on many levels from the different scopes. There were 29 people from many different places in the world and it was very important to be part of such an experience.

(Following the Atelier...) I will now try to work more with the context. Even if I am already always developing my work depending it, this Atelier opened my eyes on other political situations and contexts. Now it is more about how I can shape and frame our experiences and approaches to the context, and also to be more open to other continents, bring in performances from across the globe and think about how we connect the content with the context.

Having people from all those different continents and countries was really interesting but it is not easy; you have to listen and to reach common ground in the learning process so you can’t just focus on yourself.  The Atelier was very intense but we were all open to share, it was very rich to all of us, to share the experiences, the personal stories, that was very important. Transferring knowledge from experiences was very important and interesting.’ 

Atelier Gothenburg 2018

Joo Won Kim, Non Sense Music Festival, South Korea

‘I could learn about what Art and Festival mean to people, I had a chance to talk about lots of big questions which we do not ask to ourselves in ordinary days so it really was an enlightening moment to learn and rethink about what the arts means, and what the art festival means in various aspect. I was especially fascinated to learn about artists in Gothenburg, without this Atelier I would have never had a chance to learn about Gothenburg artists in this deep way. After the Atelier, I will clearly be more aware about what is going on in this time, everywhere and also what is my responsibility as an art festival manager.’

Atelier Gothenburg 2018

Aditi Akkalkotkar, Pune International Film Festival, India

'I will never forget the mini panic attack I had after your (the other participants’) introductions. Looking back now, I can't help but to laugh because I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Little did I know that on that night, I was walking into a family that would show me such an incredible amount of unconditional love. Thank you for always making me feel welcome, making me feel comfortable and helping me to come out of my nutshell. I have had some of the happiest moments of my life at the Atelier. Thank you for always being so down-to-Earth and non-judgmental from the very beginning. Most importantly, thank you for always being supportive and encouraging. I cannot thank you all enough for sharing your stories, intense talks about culture's and festivals, dancing like crazy, singing together Malaika and most importantly helping me to grow as a human.'

Atelier Gothenburg 2018

Ángela Delgado Valdivia, Hay Festival Arequipa, Peru

'About the unforgettable experience of having participated in the 14th Atelier for Young Festival Managers, in Gothenburg, Sweden, organised by The Festival Academy.

I'm trying to make words like:  

magic, surprise, imagination, creativity, creation, love, struggle, weariness, frustration, humanity, human, imperfection, vulnerability, diversity, challenge, encouragement, soul, you, me, us, them, they, word, voice, presence, echo, memory, country, territory, limit, refuge, peace, anger, war, spirit, do, believe, see, hear, feel, admire, confirm, doubt, write, think, hate, grasp, fear, and several others, 

 …make sense when putting them together following what my mind tells me and my heart reaffirms.'

Atelier Gothenburg 2018

Christina Illmayr, Stockholm Early Music Festival, Sweden/Germany

'This experience has been a thoroughgoing strength-giving one and led small every-day-bubbles to burst by being confronted with not every-day-questions. These thought-provoking questions transformed the Atelier into a different kind, yet wonderful bubble, full of valuable meetings, inspiration, challenges, openness, tolerance and acceptance. 

Within this particular space of the Atelier, the deep political and philosophical conversations were what surprised me the most and I now go home with the will to reflect even more on my work practices and how to change them.”

Atelier Gothenburg 2018

Nora Niethammer, Munich Biennale for new music theater / Spielmotor e.V.

'Incredibly thankful for having had the chance to spend one week with these wonderful people from all over the world in Gothenburg, Sweden. Taking a look at the world together - this was inspiring, heavy, fun, sad, overwhelming at times and full of energy!'

Atelier Gothenburg 2018
Aftermovie Atelier for Young Festival Managers Johannesburg March 2018

The Atelier for Young Festival Managers Johannesburg, March 2018 was the 13th edition of the Atelier and the first to be organised in the Global South. 25 participants from 13 countries were gathered and engaged in a global conversation about today's challenges of Festival making around the world.

Aftermovie Atelier for Young Festival Managers Johannesburg March 2018

Amarachi Attamah, Oja Cultural Developement Initiative, Nigeria

"I loved every bit of it from the first moment, the design of sharing knowledge, the participation, everybody all inclusive, everybody at some point had something to say. There was no participant that did not say something at a particular time, and that to me meant a lot. It build our confidence, we got to know the strength and weaknesses of each of us and we got to see how to assist everyone in dealing with these issues."

Atelier Johannesburg 2018

Nikissi Serumaga, Program Manager 32° East | Ugandan Arts Trust, Uganda

"There were several key points brought up on the workshop that we benefited from, particularly about understanding our audiences, the sustainability of the festival from a financial point of view, and different approaches to making sure a festival is reflective of its surrounding communities. (...) It seems many other participants also felt the program was very important in the development of how they are approaching their respective projects."

“Much of what has been taught during the Atelier is nearly impossible to find in other spaces (...) “For me, the Atelier is a space for critical thought and practical outputs around festivals expertly tailored for its target arts practitioner.”

Atelier Johannesburg 2018

Marisa Benson, ArtsWorldGPS, USA

“I have learnt the importance of dreaming, doing and creating with or without resources in an equitable way that not only transforms people but also space and other sectors”

“We not only created a practical tool, we also learned of the cultural protocol and were inserted how we conceive our vision, our approach and our efforts.”

Atelier Johannesburg 2018

Ismail Mahomed, CEO, Market Theatre Foundation, South Africa

‘I think it’s wonderful to bring everyone in a room and for once to be able to engage a global conversation for everyone to withdraw from their personal experiences and their personal contexts, for us to be able to get a bit of understanding that we are all working for the same common purpose, that festivals are dynamic components in the Art sector.’ 

Mentor Atelier Johannesburg 2018

Ross Millard, Sunderland MAC Trust (Summer Streets Festival), UK

‘I think the mentors have been excellent as well, I have to say, the openness they have attended this Atelier with, the keenness that they have to unsee your questions, share their ideas and give you advice as well, because you are talking about people who are at the very top of their game with a lot of experience, and that’s a gift, a lot of the people on this Atelier are at the very beginning of their career, so to get great advice from people who have 30 years’ experience face to face, it’s very difficult to get that outside of this context.’ 

Atelier Johannesburg 2018

Papama Mnqandi, Little Jazz Town Store, South Africa

‘The Atelier has been such a profound experience and is so important for the global community and for south Africa. We always get projects coming from Europe and the Global North that are about benevolence. They always see  Africa as a place where we are giving stuff to. I think what The Festival Academy and the team have been able to successfully put together, is a very circular and democratic space where everyone feels like an equal contributing to a global conversation.’

Atelier Johannesburg 2018

Inge Ceustermans, General Director The Festival Academy, Belgium

‘The Atelier Alumni Network counts today more than 500 festival managers from more than 70 countries and all continents. To create this global community of festival managers is essential in the world of today where challenges cannot be addressed only on the basis of a nation or a continent but need to be addressed globally. With the Atelier in Johannesburg, we aspire to have a more equal dialogue between participants coming from the Global South and the Global North, we are also inviting speakers from both parts of the world so that people coming from there, participants coming from there, working in completely different conditions, economically and socially, feel better represented.’

Atelier Johannesburg 2018

Rasheeda Nalumoso, 32º East | Ugandan Arts Trust, Uganda

‘It was very useful because we are thinking about how do we dream, how do we enact what we want to do. And I am going away with some actually really tangible solutions and operational models that have given me confidence and renewed affirmation of different ways to work and operate as a cultural activist and programmer across Africa which is really great.’

Atelier Johannesburg 2018

Hyunji Park, Inc. One More Smile, South Korea

“The Atelier smashed my narrow world and made me dream bigger and broader.”

“Before, I didn't think that my idea could be a solution of a problematic phenomenon of hectic city.”

Atelier Johannesburg 2018

Brett Pyper, Wits School of Arts, University Witwatersrand, South Africa

‘We realised there is a broader conversation globally around the kind of questions that the festival managers are asking here. And I think festivals often take upon themselves the burden of responding to some pretty deep social and political and educational and artistic challenges, it’s really wonderful to be strengthening a network, to be making sure that those conversations aren’t stuck in one national context but actually are part of what’s happening to change context for Art making in the world now.’ 

Mentor Atelier Johannesburg 2018

Mike Van Graan, Founding President African Cultural Policy Network, South A

‘For people to leave here having been provoked around some of the key global themes and how those impact on their festivals. And I think to maintain relationships in a post-festival Atelier, what has happened in this particular Atelier feed into Ateliers of the past in terms of Alumni who have graduated from previous Academies being alluded to the kinds of themes that have been dealt with here, and that that becomes basis for future Academies as well.’

Facilitator Atelier Johannesburg 2018

Dominique Soma, Weheartbeat, South Africa

“The Atelier opened my mind to new ways of thinking, it shifted my perspectives, changed my perceptions and gave me deep insight into the world of festivals and the power that I hold. There is a lot of power in human connection and we shouldn't ignore the wealth of knowledge that comes from the people around us.” 

 "Some of us are to serve the human soul and this is a powerful responsibility that should be used wisely.”

Atelier Johannesburg 2018

Robert Murray, AFDA, South Africa

‘Not just Southern Africa but also (…) Northern Africa, because we tend to get so insular and working around a problem or a challenge that we are experiencing in the industry or in terms of our festival, and this idea of actually just stepping outside of our day to day routine and being able to share and being able to ask for help. We don’t know all answers so we ask for help and other people experiences, other people expertise comes in and we walk away with lots of questions but feeling really really enriched.’

Atelier Johannesburg 2018
Aftermovie of the Atelier Budapest 2016

The Atelier for Young Festival Managers in Budapest, Hungary, took place from 2 to 8 June 2016, and was hosted by the Armel Opera Festival. It gathered 43 participants from 25 countries and confirmed the success and necessity of providing training opportunities for early career professionals and to collaborate across continents

Aftermovie of the Atelier Budapest 2016

Jessica Teague, Stichting Omscholingsregeling Dansers NL, USA

“I was very impressed with the caliber of participants, I feel the Atelier did a really good job in selecting intelligent and vibrant individuals. Everyone had something to offer and was involved in something interesting. The networking events were really incredible! The venues and atmosphere, food and wine all superb for putting everyone at ease to really get to know each other. This is not an easy thing to accomplish!”

Atelier Budapest 2016

Sara Ilana Arias Cano, Vitoria International Music Festival Spain

"The Atelier was a paradise island of inspiration and experiences that sent us back to our homes with courage and determination to lead the next generation of festivals with creativity and responsibility"

Atelier Budapest 2016
Module I - Festival Production Management Training 2016

Module I of the pilot edition of the Festival Production Management Training took place in Antwerp, Belgium, from 20-23 January 2016, hosted by deSingel International Art Campus. 22 young production managers from 15 countries met and exchanged with experienced production managers.

Module I - Festival Production Management Training 2016

Emilie Bendix, HAUT, Helsingør Teater, Passagefestival, 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."

Atelier Gwangju 2015

Martin Kadinov, ON! Fest // Gaming Entertainment LTD, Bulgaria

“Gazing from the airplane window on my way back “home” I caught myself thinking the Atelier, for me, was like the first time I took a plane. Full of expectations – you prepare, buckle-up, accelerate, take off, penetrate the hazy clouds and gain clear vision of the immensity of the sky. Feel it, experience it and learn from it.”

Atelier Beirut 2015

Tomas Kutinjac, BLITZ International Performing Arts Festival, Croatia

"For the Atelier, 36 young festival leaders from all over the globe landed in Beirut to inspire and get inspired, exchange ideas, raise questions and try to give answers on the meaning and artistic management of festivals. One of the strongest feelings I had. Everybody had the same chance to express and share their story, concerns and mingle with everyone else with the same intensity."

Atelier Beirut 2015

Daniel Maposa, Savanna Trust, Zimbabwe

"The Atelier is organised in such a way that renowned festival directors and managers are mentors who provide lectures, presentations and inspirations to the participants. The participants also share their experiences from their different festivals. This process provides a rich interaction and transfer of knowledge among participants."

Atelier Poznan 2014

Mohamed El Ghawy, AFCA for Arts and Culture, Egypt

"At the Atelier you learn from experienced mentors, festival pioneers; you hear inspiring stories from young festival managers from around the world; and you broaden your network. But the unique thing is that you get to know more about yourself."

Atelier Edinburgh 2014

Gemma Connell, The Artifact Dance Company, UK

"We all felt that we have a strong new network here – the seeds of many potential future collaborations between us have certainly been sowed."

Atelier Ljubljana 2012

Nikki Cassidy, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK

"A significant value of the Atelier for me personally has been the chance to meet people who live and breathe artistic Festivals, from all over the world. I have enjoyed having my stereotypical assumptions of the world (seen through a prism of western media information) broken down, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to begin developing a greater understanding of other people, continents, cultures and viewpoints"

Atelier Singapore 2011

Cristina Goletti, I.F. O.N.L.Y. Festival, Ireland

“Being able to listen to people from all over the world offered me an incredible wider prospective. We were blessed to have incredibly renowned mentors with us for the whole week, speaking about their festivals and their experiences. The networking opportunities of the Atelier are immense and I believe I have made strong contacts, which will help me building my festival. I found myself thinking less as a European and more and more as a global citizen.”

Atelier Izmir 2011

Emily Thomas, Watch this Space Festival, UK

"The opportunity to meet with other festival managers from throughout Europe, to exchange ideas and experiences and initiate conversations, is an invaluable and rare one."

Atelier Varna 2009

Tobias Kokkelmans, Festival van Vlaanderen, Belgium

"The Atelier was the opportunity to meet both experienced festival leaders in an intimate context, as well as the possibility to meet young colleagues. It’s very rare in our specific professional context to meet so many young people together. To me, that was food for thought."

Atelier Görlitz 2006

Karabo Kgokong, Lentswe Arts Projects, South Africa

“For me the experience was just truly inspiring. I got to really imagine and see the possibility of my dreams coming true (...) I learned to find the motivation to believe in my dreams or ideas and implement them whether there's financial support or not.”