Toolkits as 'Bodies of Knowledge'
The Festival Academy and the European Festivals Association together with their communities have been developing a series of toolkits. The toolkits have been created as of September 2019 within the framework of the Act for Global Change: A Global Conversation from the Arts to the World (ACT) project supported by Creative Europe (Cooperation Projects 2019-21) and are being further developed within the framework of Revealing the Alliance project supported by Creative Europe (Cooperation Projects 2022-24).
The aim of this platform is to provide festival experts and sector practitioners with information on current trends and inspiring examples from the industry, as well as relevant contextual information on their specific issues. With this, the toolkits are developed with the intention of enabling readers to get insights and inspiration for current and future challenges in their own practice. They include knowledge gathered in the series of activities (Ateliers, keynotes and working sessions) promoted by The Festival Academy and the European Festivals Association since September 2019, as well as information from a variety of existing research resources and sources produced and brought by their communities of Alumni, mentors, experts, speakers and festival practitioners.
We refer to our toolkits as 'Bodies of Knowledge'. They differ from classical toolkits by going beyond the traditional concept of practical guides. While classical toolkits primarily offer step-by-step instructions, box-ticking exercises and templates, our 'Bodies of Knowledge' follow a more holistic approach. They not only provide practical advice but offer a deeper understanding of the festival industry by presenting it in all its complexities. They encompass a comprehensive view of the field, its trends, context, and a wide range of real-world examples rather than serving rigid, one-size-fits-all solutions. They can be used as references and quidelines as well as sources of inspiration.
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The series covers six topics, within the scope of their relevance to festival and cultural practitioners:
- Digital Technology
- Programming and Curating a Festival
- Caring for Artists and Technical Crew
- Sustainable Business Practices
- Audience Development and Retention
- Festivals, Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability
Three more toolkits are currently under development and will be published on the platform soon:
1. Festivals and LGBTQIA+ and Queer communities
2. Decolonizing Festivals
3. Gathering in the Face of Disaster
The content of each topic-based toolkit includes theoretical knowledge and relevant case studies that can be used as reference and as a basis for the practice of festival making. For such, each toolkit is divided into two parts: the first one compiling the pertinent theoretical background on its specific topic and the respective links and sources for additional information; and the second part gathering best practices and examples related to the specific Toolkit theme which can serve as inspirational guides for festival-makers worldwide.
The Toolkits are not meant to provide ‘one-size-fits-all’ templates as conditions in which festivals take place vary substantially across the globe depending on political and social contexts, access to resources, and a range of other factors. We have attempted to glean case studies from as many different contexts as possible. It is up to readers and festival managers to interpret and apply the principles contained in the Toolkits to their respective conditions.
These toolkits were developed by teams of alumni with The Festival Academy staff and Atelier facilitator also contributing. The alumni team comprised:
Adel Abdelwahab (artistic director of Hewar Theater Group, theater and performing arts curator – Egypt)
Ángela Delgado Valdivia (director of Hay Festival Arequipa – Peru)
Koe Gaik Cheng (art administrator, manager of Little Door Festival, Malaysia)
Glyn Roberts (festival director and CEO of Castlemaine State Festival – Australia)
Lily Hughes (UK/Australia season programme manager at Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Scotland)
Mauricio Lomelin (former producer at the Lincoln Centre New York, associate producer at Por Piedad Teatro – USA/Mexico)
Samantha Nampuntha (event producer, public relations and communications expert – Malawi)
Please refer to each toolkit for the names of its specific authors.
Ana Camerano, Anaïz Dessartre Mendonca, Inge Ceustermans, Mar Sebastià Casanova, Maria Carmen Ordoñez, Mike van Graan, Rachel De Felice, Shushanna Shakaryan and Fabiola Eidloth from The Festival Academy contributed too.
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The toolkits are open-sourced, continuously developed tools. Therefore, festival and cultural practitioners from all backgrounds and levels of experience are invited to expand these materials by adding their own contributions, building on the gathering of knowledge and insights shared with the whole festival-making community worldwide.