FAIL AGAIN, FAIL BETTER- ATELIER ENCOURAGES FESTIVAL MANAGERS FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE!
Seven incredible and intense days of discussions, presentations, artist chats, and visits to arts and cultural spaces around Beirut and Beiteddine!
by Yvonne Jila, Director, International Images Film Festival for Women
Thirty-five young festival managers from across the world gathered in Beirut, Lebanon for a one-week training on festival management, from the 21st to the 28th of March 2015. The experience was inspiring, motivating and complimented the practical knowledge I have gained over the years in festival programming and management.
Being the only participant from a festival in Africa was quite special during my training in Lebanon. I had the opportunity of sharing with my colleagues and trainers the experiences of running a film festival in Zimbabwe. Of course, Africa is made up of different states so instead of generalizing about festivals in Africa, I chose to talk only about IIFF and the general festival environment in my country. This I was able to do because our festival is also part of Zimbabwe Festivals Network.
Organizing IIFF has had its own challenges and so often I felt like throwing in the towel but meeting other 35 participants, I realised that I am not alone. We all have our own different challenges in our own contexts, have almost given up but passion and determination can take us to where we want to be! Everybody had the same chance to express and share their story, concerns and mingle with everyone else with the same intensity. But more impressive was the level our mentors approached us with, a level of respect, attentiveness and care, unselfishly offered. Fail again, fail better, was the slogan for Atelier 2015.
Festivals are there to promote artistic excellence and most if not all are in response to social happenings or are tools for social change and transformation. We organise festivals because we want to say the things we need to say. We all fight our battles in our small realities. Our fights are equally big and important, when fought in our own context. Others tackle the risk of war, for others it is lack of financial support, or it's censorship, while others reckon the risk of rain for an outdoor event.
The methodology used included- presentations by trainers, group work and plenary sessions, as well as visits to arts festival. I was taken aback by the topic on festival audiences. This topic formed the basis of the training because audiences are the lifeblood of any festival, without which there is no festival to talk of. No matter how big or small a festival is, the success of any festival is measured by how much of its target audience it has reached. In essence, festivals need to define from the onset who their audiences are and by so doing, they are able to program accordingly and send right messages through the right mediums of communication. The importance of constantly reaching out to audiences was also emphasized. As a result, some festivals have outreaches, some have training for artists and after this training they share their works with the audiences.
The Atelier training is a program of the European Festivals Association. It is an intense and rigorous 7-day training platform addressed at emerging artistic festival directors or those who have ambitions to become involved in programming or in programming related departments within a festival. It is all about formulating experiences and passing on knowledge to a next generation of festival makers: knowledge about programming a festival, thematically focusing on the very essence of arts festivals: the arts and the artist.