250 festival representatives from across Europe gathered in Paris on 27 September for the announcement of the first ever EFFE Awards. An International Jury, presided over by Vincent Baudriller, Director of Théâtre Vidy in Lausanne, rewarded 12 of the most trend-setting European festivals of this year from a pool of 760 festivals from 31 countries.
Culture is what brings Europeans together – across geographic, political and economic lines – in good times and in times of division. Many of the EU’s most popular initiatives are culture-based. Festivals are fast becoming the most popular way to experience culture in Europe, with attendance that has grown drastically over the last decade.
250 leading personalities gathered to celebrate the 12 winners of the EFFE Awards 2015-2016, and the art that brings millions of people together each year at Europe’s thousands of festivals. EFFE’s International Jury, international experts, with expertise from Aachen to Zagreb via New York gave out the awards to honour Europe’s agenda-setting festivals.
The event took place at the Théâtre de la Ville as part of the Festival d’Automne à Paris’ programme and is part of the EFFE – Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe project initiated by the European Festivals Association. The 2015-2016 awards were sponsored by the Google Cultural Institute.
The jury’s decision was built on months of hard work by the hubs and experts who have pulled together a definitive list of their country’s festival offerings, from world-renowned dates in the cultural calendar, to eclectic events known only to switched-on insiders.
Members of the jury said “It has been an enormous pleasure and a privilege for the jury to discover the breadth and ambition of the European festival circuit. We are glad to see that ten countries from across Europe and a wide spectrum of artistic disciplines were represented in the final selection of the 12 award winners.”
The EFFE Festival Awards and Labels are the only platform to celebrate festivals from diverse genres and countries and to bring them closer to audiences across Europe. These festivals enrich the lives of citizens in communities far and wide and on top generate billions of euros for local economies across Europe each year.
- Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria)
- Festival d’Aix-en-Provence (Aix-en-Provence, France)
- BIG BANG (Antwerp, Belgium; festival takes place in 11 cities across Europe)
- Malta Festival Poznań (Poznań, Poland)
- Midnight Sun Film Festival (Sodankylä, Finland)
- Manifesta (Amsterdam, Netherlands; location of festival changes with each edition)
- NEXT (Lille, France/Kortrijk, Belgium (Flanders)/Tournai, Belgium (Wallonia))
- Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival (Groningen, Netherlands)
- Perforations Festival (Zagreb/Rijeka/Dubrovnik, Croatia)
- Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (Prague, Czech Republic)
- Santarcangelo Festival Internazionale del teatro in Piazza (Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy)
- SICK! (Brighton/Manchester, United Kingdom)
EFFE Award Recipients – Comments by the EFFE Jury
- Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria) – For more than 30 years, the world-renowned media art festival Ars Electronica has provided an annual setting for artistic and scientific encounters with social and cultural phenomena that are the upshot of technological change. The field of arts and science is one of the most innovative and contemporary, and this is the pre-eminent festival for international professionals in this field.
- Festival d’Aix-en-Provence (Aix-en-Provence, France) – Every year since 1948, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence creates new lyrical and musical productions presented in Aix in July, which are revived on tour in Europe. Its Academy and the process of developing new artists are at the core of the festival’s current mission, and it works closely with diverse communities in Aix-en-Provence as well as a considerable international audience.
- BIG BANG (Antwerp, Belgium; festival takes place in 11 cities across Europe) – BIG BANG is an adventurous music festival for young audiences (4–12 years) initiated by Zonzo Compagnie, for whom nine major cultural centres in Europe transform their venues into a musical labyrinth. The jury was delighted to include a festival which focused on young audiences in the list of festivals to receive the EFFE Award, and to bring attention to this festival which may be under-recognized due to its decentralized nature.
- Malta Festival Poznań (Poznań, Poland) – Malta Festival Poznań presents some of the most interesting contemporary culture phenomena from all over the world and co-produces theatre shows. It initiates performing arts, musical and community art projects. The jury considered this to be the most innovative festival in Poland: having begun as a theatre festival, five years ago it began inviting leading artists to curate specific programmes around a particular theme or idea.
- Midnight Sun Film Festival (Sodankylä, Finland) – The Midnight Sun Film Festival boasts one of the most unusual atmospheres of any festival in the world: top directors, up-and-coming talent, an international audience and the common person on the street come together under the midnight sun. Created by leading artists in the field (acclaimed filmmakers the Kaurismäki brothers), this is a distinctive and surprising film festival.
- Manifesta (Amsterdam, Netherlands; location of festival changes with each edition) – Manifesta has been named the fourth most influential biennial in the world. Manifesta is the roving European Biennial of Contemporary Art, which investigates and reflects on emerging developments in contemporary art by establishing a close dialogue between its respective cultural and artistic setting and the broader, international fields of art, theory and politics. The 2014 edition in St Petersburg faced controversy because of Russia’s repression of the LGBT community, but presented a strong artistic programme, presenting innovative contemporary art.
- NEXT (Lille, France/Kortrijk, Belgium (Flanders)/Tournai, Belgium (Wallonia)) – NEXT is the international performing arts festival for the cross-border Eurometropolis LilleKortrijk-Tournai, created and organized by five French and Belgian culture and arts houses. The programme focuses on referential work and new tendencies in contemporary theatre, dance and performance. This cross-border, cross-language approach is unique and very innovative, and the jury noted that other festivals could learn a great deal about collaboration from this model, especially across borders.
- Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival (Groningen, Netherlands) – Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival Groningen is the somewhat curious combination of a cutting-edge international art festival and a large-scale summer fest for 135,000 visitors. A festival which presents a good mix of contemporary experimental art and more inclusive approachable art in the setting of a city park, which makes it extremely accessible for the public, where it feels like anyone can just walk in off the street and enjoy a performance.
- Perforations Festival (Zagreb/Rijeka/Dubrovnik, Croatia) – The Perforations Festival takes place annually in three Croatian cities – Zagreb, Rijeka and Dubrovnik – and presents a range of Balkan artists working in performance art, theatre and dance, whose diverse approaches to art-making blurs the borders between these genres. Its focus on queer artists and issues is politically and socially significant in a country that does not promote equal rights for its LGBT citizens.
- Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (Prague, Czech Republic) – The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space is the largest scenography event in the world that explores a wide range of scenographic practices – from stage, costume, lighting and sound design and new scenographic practices such as site-specific, applied scenography, urban performance and costume as performance. Its programmes for students and young professionals are an extremely important aspect of its programme, making it a vital gathering for young artists and designers.
- Santarcangelo Festival Internazionale del teatro in Piazza (Santarcangelo di Romagna, Italy) – Santarcangelo dei Teatri is one of the main international performing arts festivals in Italy. Every year in July Santarcangelo becomes a city-theatre, transforming its architectures into venues for performances, installations, workshops, lectures and debates, and welcoming many international and national artists and audiences in a country where the presentation of experimental contemporary performance is difficult.
- SICK! (Brighton/Manchester, United Kingdom) – SICK! Festival is the first in the UK to confront the physical, mental and social challenges of life and death. It bears witness to the realities of our lives, shining a light on urgent issues that often remain misunderstood or taboo, through an outstanding programme of performance, theatre, dance, literature, film, visual art and public debates, and a yearround conversation between the arts, science, healthcare, charities and individuals. It presents challenging European work which would not otherwise be seen in the UK.
As a global digital expert, the Google Cultural Institute offered EFFE to help to increase festivals’ exposure and their use of digital tools. We are proud to present the online exhibition Festivals at the Heart of Europe, curated by theatre and opera director Tom Creed on the Google Cultural Institute platform. This exhibition features images and video that track the development of festivals in Europe from a post-war peace building effort to the multi-disciplinary and experimental festivals of today. The 12 Award recipients are all featured, giving audiences a more in-depth and experiential look at what festivals are doing in Europe today.
EFFE.eu the most comprehensive guide to Europe’s festivals, was founded by the European Festivals Association (EFA), to give festivals more visibility and opportunity for exchange. EFFE is about making sure everyone knows which festivals are doing the most exciting and innovative work and creating a coalition between festivals that share similar ambitions to get their audiences thinking about the world they live in. EFFE is a result of many years of intense collaboration with the European Commission and European Parliament and operates through funding of the European Union as a pilot project.
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