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Irish Festival Sector Represented At Commission Talks.
Date: Feb 27, 2015

The European Festivals Association hosted a top level meeting with newly appointed Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport to set the agenda of work between the European Commission and festivals in the field of arts and culture.

The deputation included Board Member and Executive Director of AOIFE (Association of Irish Festivals and Events), Colm Croffy. It was the first roundtable meeting of the new Commissioner with any representative grouping from the Cultural Sector.

Colm is the first Irish member of the 62 year old European Festivals Association which is headquartered in Brussels, having being elected with an overwhelming majority by the members at their Annual Meeting in Sarajevo last March.

“It was an honour for me to represent the Irish and European Festival sector at this first historic meeting with our new Commissioner at the Berlaymont Building this week.  He understands very well the role our sector plays within the creative economy but also  knows we are stakeholders to help a better understanding of European Citizenship, I believe he will have a very hands on role in engaging with festivals and cutting through some of the red tape,” said Colm.

Mr. Croffy spoke about the role the networks and Festival Associations play in espousing best event practice , assisting communities in producing quality artistic and cultural celebrations and the work of the National Hubs in piloting the first phase of the new European Festival Labelling project – where A.O.I.F.E. is the Irish partner.

Both the E.F.A. and  Commissioner Navraciscics agreed on the importance of a wide range of issues, without any one of which Europe cannot operate as a cultural space – artistic development, freedom of expression, cultural diversity, access to culture, culture education for the 21st century, training, equal citizenship, intercultural dialogue, the free movement of artists, favourable tax regulations for international cooperation, European values and universal human rights.

Together the festivals and Commissioner Navraciscics are committed to undertaking a regular dialogue in the next 5 years initiating and monitoring concrete action, including regular conversations with political representatives on the European, national and local levels with and beyond the cultural sector, the ‘Europe for Festivals Festivals for Europe’ Platform reaching out to the most diverse festivals from local to national scales, knowledge and know-how sharing and training through The Festival Academy and in the frame of the EU – China people-to-people dialogue and to make contributions to the process towards a European Resolution on Culture: supporting Culture as an Instrument for Values, Democracy, Citizenship and social inclusion.

The following day Mr. Croffy was invited to participate with over 35 European cultural producers and commentators in the annual European House For Culture series of Brussels Conversations at La Monnaie before attending a seminar entitled the “City is US“ which featured members of the European Cities of Culture Expert panel and representatives of the cities from Italy who lost in their bid to become cultural capital in 2019.

“With so much state centred support for culture being axed not alone in Ireland but around Europe – the Commission and the new EU Parliament will have a much more involved role in the field and if the campaigning with the Soul For Europe facilitates a resolution on culture in this term – I think more festivals and events will have a lot more interaction with Brussells”, stated Colm Croffy.

The European Festivals Association and the Commissioner are engaging to build a cultural agenda for Europe with the input of artists and creators all over Europe in close dialogue with colleagues in the sector and the European Parliament. EFA is intensifing their contacts with Commissioners in the other fields of responsibility: particularly social affairs, citizenship, external affairs, human rights, health, urban and regional development and, last but not least, the budget and economic affairs.

The EFA Board and EU Commissioner Tibor NavracsicsThe EFA Board and EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics

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