Atelier GWANGJU 2015: Call for applications

12.01.2015. 00:00 | Gwangju, Korea

Are you part of the next generation of artistic festival directors? Do you want to broaden your programming skills and be inspired by experienced leaders in the field? Do you want to join a new network of future festival leaders worldwide?

The Festival Academy (initiative of the European Festivals Association - EFA), is delighted to announce that the Atelier for Young Festival Managers will take place for the second time in Asia from 31 August to 6 September 2015 in Gwangju, South Korea. The Atelier Gwangju will coincide with the inauguration of the Asian Culture Complex (ACC), in close collaboration with the Chonnam National University and the ACC's Asian Arts Theatre. Ten renowned festival directors will guide 45 participants from the region and from all over the world through the 7-day training programme in this very special context of a very ambitious and momentous art project in Korea.


“It is our pleasure to host global festivities, which will be filled with diverse experiences and creative visions of young festival managers coming from all around the world. The Atelier Gwangju 2015 will be all the more meaningful because it will be held in conjunction with the opening festival of the Asian Culture Complex. We would like to invite all young festival managers to take part in this great occasion to meet future leaders of arts and culture and to get inspired in the city of light, Gwangju.” Kang-Lae Lee, Dean of Graduate School of Culture, Chonnam National University


 “The Atelier was an extremely valuable professional and life experience for skills development, capacity- and confidence building, plus it gifted me with bounds of renewed inspiration and a wonderful new network of colleagues and friends.”
Michelle O’Brien, Executive Director New Forms Festival, Executive Producer International Symposium of Electronic Art, VancouverParticipant Atelier POZNAN 2014

Mission of the Atelier

The Atelier – initiated by the European Festivals Association (EFA) – is guided by the motto “The true role of a festival is to help artists to dare, to engage in new projects,” borrowed from Bernard Faivre d'Arcier, longstanding Director of the Avignon Festival and President of the Lyon Biennial (France). 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.


At least 45 young festival managers from all over the world will be selected to participate in the Atelier. The skills of festival managers needed for the artistic development of festivals is at the heart of the Atelier. For seven days, participants will work in small groups, attend lectures and debates, learn from case studies and implement practical activities. Atelier mentors and presenters – all renowned, trailblazing festival managers from all over the world - will share their rich experiences with the participants. The Atelier goes beyond traditional teaching practices; the carefully selected young programmers will widen their horizons and perspectives on festivals and programming practices. They will be able to enlarge and build a sustainable network which proves to be essential on the long-term.

Partners & city

Gwangju Metropolitan City is one of the six largest cities in Korea, with a population of 1.4 million. Gwangju is rich in culture and art, as shown by its cultural initiatives such as Hub City of Asian Culture project and Gwangju Biennale which make the city one of the most vibrant and colourful places in the country.

Chonnam National University (CNU), located in Gwangju Metropolitan City, is one of the most prestigious national universities in Korea. CNU has been playing a pivotal role in strengthening justice and human rights in Korean history, since its establishment in 1952. Consisting of 59 academic departments in 19 colleges and 11 graduate programs, CNU maintains international ties with 300 universities in 42 countries. The Graduate School of Culture (GSC), which was opened in March 2006, is Korea’s first and only graduate school specializing in culture. GSC currently provides three master’s programs including “Culture and Arts Planning,” “Culture Management and Tourism” and “Media Art and Technology". Having been selected for the Korean government's Brain Korea 21 plus project (2013-2020), GSC pursues its vision of a “world-class graduate school specializing in education and research in the field of cultural convergence and training creative and glocal culture professionals.”

Asian Culture Complex, a government-funded establishment housed in the heart of Gwangju, is doubtless the most ambitious and momentous art project in Korean history in terms of budget, artistic vision and spatial scale. Based in this newly constructed complex, Asian Arts Theatre questions, supports, and creates contemporary performing arts in Asia. The theatre will produce, co-produce, invite and promote art works from Asia as well as the rest of the world. It aspires to become a hub for the production, presentation, discussion and international distribution of the most cutting-edge works in the context of the international performing arts scene. In September 2015, the theatre opens with a three week opening festival which will present almost 30 commissioned, co-produced and invited works, with main emphasis on Asian artists.

“We are delighted to host the Atelier for Young Festival Managers in partnership with Chonnam National University. Our grand opening festival will provide an arena where different perspectives and visions can freely collide and mingle. As one of Asia's most ambitious cultural initiatives, our festival will be a timely opportunity for future generations of festival managers to question and explore the most pertinent discourses of Asia today.”
Seonghee Kim, Artistic Director Asian Culture Complex - Asian Arts Theatre

Theme & topics

Particular emphasis is placed on the artistic aspects of festival management, including artistic vision, political and social responsibility, internationalisation, networking, renewal and sustainability:

  • How to articulate, develop and realise an artistic programme?
  • Who contributes to the artistic process?
  • What is the role of festivals as platforms for creation and innovation?
  • What is the importance of festivals for artists? How can festivals serve the art?
  • How important is the contact with artists? To what extent do the selected artists have an impact on the identity of the festival?
  • How to set up and handle partnerships with artists, cultural organisations and institutes?
  • How to ensure artistic autonomy in altered situations and under pressure?
  • How to recognise and contribute to the development of successful projects and talents?
  • What are the risks of programming and how to manage them?
  • What is the importance of venues, their impact on the programme and the audience?
  • What is the role of internationalisation in a festival’s work?
  • What is the role of festivals in creating global citizenship, intercultural dialogue, participation and access to culture?
  • What are new models of collaboration in a globalising world?
  • In how far do festivals appear like instruments of change? Hence, allowing the artists and audiences alike to open up new perspectives and contributing to fostering democracy?
  • How can large scale festivals continue to make sharp artistic choices, even for big audiences?

Attention will be given to more questions and issues raised throughout the Atelier.


Around 10 distinguished festival directors, will each attend for minimum three full days and work together with participants throughout the 7 days. In lectures, one-on-one talks, group discussions as well as intense workshops on case studies, issues such as artistic vision, public responsibility, creation and coproduction, internationalisation, networking, renewal and sustainability will be explored.

Presenters of past Ateliers were amongst others Robyn Archer (Artistic Director The Light in Winter Melbourne, Deputy Chair Australia Council for the Arts, Strategic Advisor Gold Coast Arts and Culture Queensland – Australia), Hugo De Greef (General Coordinator of the Atelier, former EFA Secretary General, General Manager Bruges European Capital of Culture 2002, Founder and former Director Kaaitheater), Nele Hertling (Vice President of the Academy of Arts Berlin, Member Strategy Group “A Soul for Europe”, Germany), Joseph V. Melillo (Artistic Director Brooklyn Academy of Music New York, US), Michal Merczyński (General Director Malta Festival Poznań, Poland), Sir Jonathan Mills (Festival Director and Chief Executive Edinburgh International Festival, UK). Have a look at the list of presenters of the previous Ateliers.


The Atelier is a working space especially designed for festival operators:

  • Dealing with one or more artistic disciplines within a festival
  • Having a basic practical knowledge in festival operation
  • Demonstrating the ambition to deepen their skills in the field of programming or in a department closely related to it (e.g. communication, production...)
  • Proving alternatively that a study course (already completed or due to be completed) is in line with the Atelier
  • Giving evidence of his/her ambition to work in the festival business

Terms and conditions

The following application criteria will be applied (not cumulative):

  • Average age of Atelier participants (from experience of past editions) is 35
  • Excellent knowledge of English (working language of the Atelier)

Applications (selection criteria are not cumulative) must be:

  • Supported by a festival or another initiative in the cultural sector
  • Supported by a training/academic institute (study module)
  • Based on a proof of future employment in the field
  • Based on personal arguments and motives

Course fee

  • Individual EFA members: 1300,00 EUR
  • Non EFA-members: 2100,00 EUR

The fee includes accommodation for seven nights (in a hotel in walking distance to all venues), registration, working documents, access to all sessions, meals and drinks, receptions, local transport, cultural and artistic programme and follow–up activities.

Travel expenses and health insurance are on the participants’ costs. EFA will assist as much as possible with visa issues and other permissions in preparation of the Atelier.

Application procedure & deadlines

The call for application for the Atelier GWANGJU 2015 is open. The application form must be submitted by12 January 2015.

A selection Committee set up by The Festival Academy and EFA will evaluate the applications. Successful candidates will receive a confirmation letter by 12 February 2015. The decision of the Selection Committee is final and no correspondence on the selection process will be entered into.


Funding opportunities for a training programme such as the Atelier are numerous at local/national level. The Festival Academy advises applicants to start researching funding opportunities at national and international level from the moment they apply. The Festival Academy can provide information on possible support schemes at international level. Please indicate in your application if you need to apply for additional support in order to attend the Atelier and provide details of your funding applications including the final date of approval. Have a look at previous examples of participants funding and funding institutes.

The Festival Academy has formed partnerships with the following organisations to support prospect participants:

  • Belgium: Young festival managers from Belgium who work for an organisation that belongs to PC304 can use the sectoral training grant from ‘Sociaal Fonds voor de Podiumkunsten’ to fund part of their participation in the Atelier – for more information, visit or contact


  • South Korea: The Arts Council Korea will support three Korean participants to take part in the Atelier GWANGJU 2015. Contact GaYeon Lee: or call +82-2-760-4743 for further information.


Please contact or call +32 9 241 8080.


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