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CULTURE, ARTS AND SOCIETY

Past Program

Overview

One hundred years ago at Schloss Leopoldskron, Max Reinhardt, Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal founded the world-renowned Salzburg Festival as a “Festival of Peace” to transform “the whole town into one stage.” To celebrate this centenary so closely linked with its home - Schloss Leopoldskron - Salzburg Global originally scheduled the forward-looking program “What Future for Festivals” for March 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program had to be postponed to October and has now been moved online due to continuing travel restrictions.

With many festivals facing an uncertain future, the question at the core of this program has become not only more relevant but perhaps even an existential one in many cases.  Salzburg Global seeks to support the global festival community during these uncertain times by bringing groundbreaking practitioners and disruptive innovators from around the world together online to catalyze breakthrough ideas, actions, and connections in response to the COVID crisis and against a backdrop of polarization, dehumanization, climate crisis, economic downturn, and techno-colonization.

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

2020 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the world-renowned Salzburg Festival, founded by Max Reinhardt, Richard Strauss, and Hugo von Hofmannsthal in 1920 in the baroque palace of Schloss Leopoldskron – home of Salzburg Global Seminar. As World War I drew to a close, the festival founders proposed an act of radical re-imagination: a “Festival of Peace” to transform “the whole town into one stage.”


Less than 30 years later, Salzburg Global Seminar was born out of another global conflict in the same inspirational location of Schloss Leopoldskron. Committed since 1947 to challenge current and future leaders to shape a better world, Salzburg Global sought to use this unique centennial moment as a springboard to explore the significance and future of festivals for people and planet.

Originally scheduled for March 10-15, 2020, the program What Future for Festivals? unfortunately had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing travel restrictions and lockdowns. Immediately re-scheduled for October 2020, the program was to be held in person in Salzburg, however, due to the continuing uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the by-invitation program has been moved online.

Little did we know while developing the session in 2019, just how compelling and urgent the focus of the program would be:  what future for festivals?  Few sectors have been hit as hard by the pandemic as the cultural sector, with festivals being particularly vulnerable to the fallout from the global crises – not just COVID-19, but also the climate crisis, and worldwide social and economic upheaval.  It is more relevant than ever to be asking what Reinhardt, Strauss, and Hofmannsthal would do if they were alive today.

Festivals have energized communities since time immemorial. Rooted in rituals, stories and faiths, they embody local and indigenous cultures and celebrate deep bonds to nature, land and the seasons. Modern festivals have ranged from intimate experiments to gigantic mega-events, showcasing ever more diverse creative practices, from the performing, visual, and traditional arts to photography, film, literature, street arts, food, light, design and ideas-based, future-focused, eco-inspired events. Whatever their intended focus has been – creative innovation, activism, city branding, wellness, entertainment – festivals have spoken to fundamental human needs. They have allowed us to share in a density and intensity experience, revel in specialness beyond day-to-day routine, and join – as the German word “Festspiele” infers – in “celebratory play.”

But what is the future of festivals in times of travel restrictions, stringent limitations on public events of all kinds, worries about the safety of audiences and performers?  And, even if a COVID 19 vaccine is forthcoming, how will the festival landscape have changed in the interim and how will festivals adapt and cope with these altered circumstances?  These and many other questions will be at the center of our online conversations and discussions.

This 2020 program of Salzburg Global Seminar’s Culture, Arts and Society series will be framed around three interlinked areas of inquiry:

  • Taking Stock: Responding to Recent Shocks to the System
  • Medium-Term Strategies for Survival and Adaptation: Coping with Uncertainty
  • Designs on the Future: Creative Opportunities for Radical Reimagination 

PROGRAM GOALS

  • Provide an intimate space for dialogue across the global festival community and opportunities to reimagine forms of networking and programming in response to the COVID pandemic and aligned with a sustainable development agenda for our planet;
  • Inspire, incubate, and catalyze new South/North/East/West exchanges;
  • Disseminate a summary of the proceedings and compile a “What Future for Festivals” Reader, with thought pieces authored by program participants;
  • Share learning from Salzburg Global through dynamic reporting (including blogs, social media, and a substantive report) with a broad, international group of stakeholders.

KEY QUESTIONS

  • Why will we create festivals? For whom? By whom? And to what end? Can they catalyze breakthrough ideas, actions and connections in our conflicted age?
  • With new models of localism and co-creation emerging against the backdrop of the COVID 19 pandemic and climate risk, how can festivals increasingly foster development of a communal identity? How do they engender feelings of belonging and new social bonds? Can they play a cohesive and humanizing role for societies in conflict or across deep generational, social, economic and political divides? Can festivals offer new “ways in” when formal structures in society do not?
  • Who will be designing festivals and who or what will be the underlying drivers? For which audiences will festivals be designed? Whose stories will be told and whose voices heard? How can diversity and equity be promoted and supported more strongly through festivals in the future?
  • Can festivals help to regenerate more livable and inclusive cities and communities that celebrate uniqueness and authenticity? What radical business models are being considered, especially for legacy festivals? What new forms of business-arts partnerships can be imagined?
  • Given that festival-goers usually produce huge quantities of waste and international travel related to festivals has become even more problematic, how can explicitly greener festivals stimulate take-up on the grand scale?  
  • What new forms of festivals could emerge, driven by technical innovation such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence? What top-down, bottom-up, online or hybrid festival models are emerging?
People
Partners
Program Details
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Participants
Adel Abdelwahab
Artistic Director, Theatre is a Must, Alexandria, Egypt
Ping-Ann Addo
Associate Professor of Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA
Jordi Albareda Ureta
Founder and Director, FairSaturday, Bilbao, Spain
Enrique Avogadro
Minister of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Mariana Aymerich
Director, Cervantino Festival, Guanajuato, Mexico
Hope Azeda
Artistic Director, Ubumuntu Arts Festival, Kigali, Rwanda
Guy Ben-Aharon
Founder and Director, The Jar, Boston, USA
Airan Berg
Artistic Director, Festival der Regionen, Upper Austria; Theater Maker, Vienna, Austria
Ron Berry
Artistic Director, Fusebox Festival, Austin, USA
Jacob Boehme
Creative Director, YIRRAMBOI First Nations Arts Festival, Melbourne, Australia
Andrea Caruso Saturnino
General Director, Brasil Cena Aberta, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Inge Ceustermans
General Director, The Festival Academy, Brussels, Belgium
Silvija Ciuladyte
Founder, CROSSROADS Festival, Salzburg, Austria
Lukas Crepaz
Executive Director, Salzburg Festival, Salzburg, Austria
Rose de Wend Fenton
Freelance Arts Producer and Advisor, UK
Kathrin Deventer
Secretary General, European Festivals Association, Brussels, Belgium
Shihaam Domingo
Owner and Producer, Domingo Effect, Cape Town, South Africa
Ahmed El Attar
Director, Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival, Cairo, Egypt
Angele Galea
Director, Science in the City, Valetta, Malta
Beatriz Garcia
Director, Cities of Culture Research Observatory, University of Liverpool, UK
Xenia Hanusiak
Executive Director, The Cultural Exchange, New York, USA
Tina Heine
Artistic Director, Jazz & The City Festival; Artistic Director,Supergau Festival, Salzburg, Austria
Paul Heritage
Professor of Drama and Performance, Queen Mary University of London, UK
Tisa Ho
Executive Director, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Hong Kong SAR, People's Republic of China
Sarah Hopwood
Managing Director, Glyndebourne Festival, Glyndebourne, UK
Lily Hughes
Programme Manager, Edinburgh International Culture Summit, UK
Pedro Ivo Franco
Consultant, United Nations Trade and Development Organization (UNCTAD), Berlin, Germany
Petra Jansa
Cultural Producer; Ph.D. Candidate, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Rojeh Khleif
Director, Haifa Independent Film Festival, Haifa, Israel
Yuliia Kolzovets
General Coordinator of the International Book Arsenal Festival, Mystetskyi Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine
Sun-Chul (Sancho) Lee
Founder, Potato Blossom Studio, Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea
Veronika Liebl
Co-Director, Ars Electronica Festival; Director of Organization/Finance Ars Electronica Festival/Prix/Exhibitions, Linz, Austria
Erwin Maas
Artistic Director, International Society for Performing Arts, Netherlands
Suzan Monteverde Martins
Art Commissioner, Associação Folclórica Boi Bumbá Garantido, Parintins, Amazonas, Brazil
Sabrina Motley
Director, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington D.C., USA
Keng Sen Ong
Artistic Director, TheatreWorks; Founder, International Curators Academy, Singapore
Michael Orlove
International Relations Director, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington D.C., USA
Andrei Pamintuan
Founder and Creative Director, FringeMNL; Director, The Gayborhood Festival, Manila, Philippines
Mety Panagiotopoulou
Director, Giortes Rokkas Festival; Founder Metaxoto Cultural Space, Crete, Greece
Federico Pardo
Director, 20 Fotógrafos, Latin American Photo Festival, Colombia
Ricardo Peach
Director, Vrystaat Kunstefees/Arts Festival/Tsa-Botjhaba, Mangaung, South Africa
Micah Pinto
Executive Director, Para Sa Sining Collaboratory, Manila, Philippines
Martin Posta
Founder, Director and Curator, Signal Festival, Prague, Czech Republic
Smriti Rajgarhia
Director, Serendipity Festival, Goa, India
Jason Ryle
Executive Director, imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival, Toronto, Canada
Monica Sassatelli
Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths University, London, UK
Johannes Schwaninger
Founder, Kultur Raum Zell, Zell am See, Austria
Sepehr Sharifzadeh Golpaygani
Artistic Director, NH Theatre Agency, Teheran, Iran
Joe Sidek
Founder, George Town Festival; Festival Director, Rainforest Fringe Festival, George Town, Malaysia
Eckhard Thiemann
Artistic Director, Shubbak Festival, London, UK
Kenneth Uphopho
Artistic Director, Lagos Fringe Festival, Lagos, Nigeria
Michael van Graan
Artist-in-residence, University of Pretoria; President, African Cultural Policy Network, Cape Town, South Africa
Valentyna Zotova
President and CEO, CANactions Festival, Kyiv, Ukraine
PARTNERS
Session 1: Saturday, October 24 at 2:00pm CEST

Welcome, Overview and Introductions

First Thematic Block:
Taking Stock: Responding to Recent Shocks to the System

In a catalytic conversation, panelists will reflect on the following questions:

  • Nothing is the same – what challenges and opportunities does this present?
  • What does your crisis mode look like?
  • What have been your strategies for being agile, responding to uncertainty, and staying resilient?


Following an open exchange of questions, comments, responses and ideas, participants will join sharing sessions in breakout groups and dive more deeply into these issues together.

Check the time of the event in your local time zone.

Session 2: Sunday, October 25 at 1:00pm CET

Second Thematic Block:
Medium-Term Strategies for Survival and Adaptation: Coping with Uncertainty
In a catalytic conversation, panelists will reflect on the following questions:

  • Is the “why” changing? For whom do and will we make festivals?
  • How can we redefine relationships with stakeholders, sectors and communities? 
  • How do we decolonize festivals and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  • How can we support artists during uncertain times?
  • How should we plan for a possible recession and/or a downturn in tourism? 
  • What new business models are emerging? Is small beautiful? What hyperlocal models are emerging?

Following an open exchange of questions, comments, responses and ideas, participants will join sharing sessions in breakout groups and dive more deeply into these issues together.

Check the time of the event in your local time zone.

Session 3: Thursday, October 29 at 1:00pm CET

Third Thematic Block:
Designs on the Future: Creative Opportunities for Radical Reimagination 
In a catalytic conversation, panelists will reflect on the following questions:

  • Why will we continue to create festivals? For and by whom?
  • What hybrid formats and online modalities are emerging?
  • How can greener festivals stimulate take-up on a grand scale?
  • What new kinds of partnerships are conceivable?
  • What is the geography of the future and what is the place of festivals in it?
  • Do we have the courage, vision, resources, and stamina for radical reimagination?

Following an open exchange of questions, comments, responses and ideas, participants will join sharing sessions in breakout groups and dive more deeply into these issues together.

Check the time of the event in your local time zone.

Focus Group Meeting

Dates for Focus Group Meetings to be announced.

Check the time of the event in your local time zone.

Session 4: Thursday, November 19 at 2:00pm CET

Final Wrap-Up Session:  Taking our Work Forward  
During this final session each of the Focus Groups will share their insights with the full group in a final plenary session.  The curation team will help to summarize key insights and actions for continued collaboration, mutual support, and agenda setting going forward.

Check the time of the event in your local time zone.