Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Shahidul Alam and Emily Johnson kick off the Atelier Düsseldorf/Theater der Welt

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Shahidul Alam and Emily Johnson kick off the Atelier Düsseldorf/Theater der Welt

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (NG/US), Shahidul Alam (BD) and Emily Johnson (Yup'ik Nation/US) kicked off the series of livestreamed inspiring speakers, keynotes and panel conversations happened from June 16 to June 20, in the context of the Atelier Düsseldorf/Theater der Welt, organised in partnership with ITI Germany and the Festival Theater der Welt.

Around 22 emerging and expert festival leaders, cultural activists, and artists from Afghanistan, Belgium, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Malawi, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tanzania, the United Kingdom and Yemen have been selected to participate. The programme contributed to upskill and inform the participants about the state of play of the world today, led by experts and through peer-to-peer learning, and infused by people of different backgrounds and perspectives to challenge and provoke our thinking or the way we do things.

You are welcome to join us for any of the livestreamed sessions!

You can follow our livestreams on one of these platforms:

Please note that all times indicated are in CEST/Brussels Time.

The role of the arts and festivals in today’s society and the imaginative power of storytelling

Wednesday | 16/06 | 16:30

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (NG/US), Shahidul Alam (BD), Emily Johnson (Yup’ik Nation/US)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria/United States of America) is a world-renown Nigerian writer, one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World (2015), one of Fortune Magazine's World’s 50 Greatest Leaders (2017), and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Shahidul Alam (Bangladesh) is TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year (2018), photographer, writer and human rights activist, and initiator of Chobi Mela International Photography Festival.

Emily Johnson (Yup’ik Nation/United States of America) is an activist for Justice, Sovereignty and Wellbeing, Director/Choreographer at Catalyst, Bessie-Awarded winning Choreographer, Guggenheim Fellow and Doris Duke awarded artist.

This opening keynote panel gave a voice to world-renowned artists, whose work was addressing societal change. The panel explored the role of the arts and the power of imagination in transforming current narratives. Speakers reflected upon transformations the world had gone through over the past year and which transformations were needed for the future, in terms of the stories we bring, ethics, models, platforms, audiences, economics and inclusion. How can we respond to travel bans increasing inequality, as well as the failing international response to regional conflicts and the pandemic crisis globally? Which collective actions can be imagined and engaged in by artists, festival makers and citizens?  How can we pool our resources for solidarity actions? What is the impact of the arts and festivals in all of this and how can we make this impact more visible and tangible?

Festival-making in and beyond a time of COVID-19: the good, the bad and the ugly

Thursday | 17/06 | 12:00

Faisal Kiwewa (UG), Natália Machiavelli (BR), Rania Elias (PS), Vigdis Jakobsdottir (IS)

Faisal Kiwewa (Uganda) is the Artistic Director of Bayimba Foundation. Natália Machiavelli (Brazil) is the Initiator and Director of MIT+ at MITsp – São Paulo International Theatre Festival. Rania Elias (Palestine) is the Director at Yabous Cultural Centre. Vigdis Jakobsdottir (Iceland) is the Artistic Director at Reykjavik Festival.

Expert festival-makers from different parts of the world reflected upon their experiences of the past 18 months and looked into the future. What have we learned during this Pandemic crisis? What are the main themes that have emerged? What do we want to keep and what do we want to throw away following this experience?  Are there any tools/initiatives that can be continued in the post-COVID future?  What have we learned from the bad/challenging experiences?  They explored the pros and cons of physical, online and hybrid festivals; and the impact of diverse festival formats on the festival’s vision/mission, audience and community, sustainability and stakeholders, artists, team, and tools and technical side.

Festivals, inequality and international collaboration

Friday | 18/06 | 12:00

Jan Linders (DE), Kirstin Hess (DE), Mike van Graan (ZA), Diane Ragsdale (CA), Edima Otuokon (NI)

Jan Linders (Germany) is a Member of ITI Germany board, and Head of Programme, Stiftung Humboldt Forum, Berlin. Kirstin Hess (Germany) is a Dramaturge at D'haus Junges Schauspiel, Equity forum. Mike Van Graan (South Africa) is a Playwright and project manager at Sustaining Theatre and Dance Foundation (STAND). Diane Ragsdale (Canada) is the Director of Cultural Leadership at Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity. Edima Otuokon (Nigeria) is the Executive Director at Ladima Foundation.

Speakers in this session discussed the role that art organisations and festivals could play in reducing inequality and enhancing fair international collaboration, as well as the impact of travel restrictions on festival programming, focusing on artists and participants from the Global South. They also discussed how to address inequalities with regard to travel, carbon emissions, etc.; and how international collaborations can continue in a time of Covid-19 and/or climate change. They further debated how to ensure that national and cultural chauvinism are not enhanced/promoted/ reinforced by travel restrictions, and how to ensure real benefits for those concerned by climate change; as well as how to address divides created by online festivals, related to data and digital access. They looked into accessibility and inclusion in the physical, digital, and hybrid formats, including how to advocate for minority groups from our festivals (such as advocating for racial equity, gender equity, inclusion of newcomers, social inclusion, etc.). There was also a reflection about which new ways of collaboration and solidarity are arising.

The sustainability of festivals in a time of and beyond COVID-19

Saturday | 19/06 | 12:00

Boitumelo ‘Tumy’ Motsoatsoe (ZA), Carmen Olaechea (AR), Rashmi Dhanwani (IN), Stefan Fischer-Fels (DE)

Boitumelo ‘Tumy’ Motsoatsoe (South Africa) is Head of Programmes, Business and Arts. Carmen Olaechea (Argentina) works at Art Culture and Conflict Transformation at IMPACT Leadership Circle. Rashmi Dhanwani (India) is an arts consultant, curator, creative producer, and founder of The Art X Company. Stefan Fischer-Fels (Germany) is Vice-President of ASSITEJ International, Vice-Chair of ASSITEJ Germany, and Director at Junges Schauspielhaus.

How has Covid-19 impacted the funding of festivals? What new business and partnership models are emerging for the sustainability of festivals? Speakers from varied backgrounds discussed the key challenges in sustaining an organisation, how to monetise (online, hybrid, physical) festivals and distribution of the arts. What are some of the most successful models that have emerged in the last 18 months? What has been the impact of Covid-19 on the thinking around environmental sustainability and what are the new models that are being explored on that level?

Global reach versus local relevance: festivals in a time of online possibilities

Sunday | 20/06 | 12:00

Freda Sideroff (US/South America) [to be confirmed], Judith Mair (AU), Teesa Bahana (UG)

Freda Sideroff (United States of America/South America) is the Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival. Judith Mair (Australia) is an Associate Professor and Discipline Leader of the Tourism Discipline Group in the University of Queensland Business School. Teesa Bahana (Uganda) is the Director of 32° East Ugandan Arts Trust.

This panel addressed the main shifts that have arisen related to global and local relevance of arts and festivals. Physical festivals happen in particular geographical locations and have meaning for the local communities. With festivals moving to the digital space, many of them have attracted a national/ international or even global outreach, how does that impact festivals?  With this shift in outreach, what is the meaning of a festival with regard to social impact, inclusion and diversity and how are these expressed and made concrete in these formats. Speakers will also reflect on new ways of measuring the social impact of festivals, their impact on mental wellbeing and on community building.