The Association of Ireland Festival Events (AOIFE ) based in the Town Hall Theatre, Ballinasloe has been contracted by the EU Commission as one of 28 festival hubs in a major, pilot festival labelling and awards programme for the next two years.
European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, kicked off the new pilot project for a European Platform for Festivals in the field of culture with the Hub Directors in Brussels last week.
The project was proposed by the European Festivals Association (EFA ) and will run for 2014/2015 under the title EFFE – Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe. EFFE aims to be a portal for professionals and citizens to discover arts festivals in Europe. The pilot project was originally initiated by the European Parliament.
Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou stated: “The European Union continues to support festivals in all EU Member States. Investing into festivals, and thus into artists and audiences alike, is crucial in our cultural policy vision. EFA’s strong proposal was chosen because EFFE will increase citizens’ access to the arts and culture, allow artists to reach out to audiences all over Europe, and promote cultural diversity. I am glad to work with EFA on this first European Platform, a new strand in the European Commission’s new Creative Europe programme in place for 2014-2020.”
“Arts and culture are at the core of EFFE’s mission, globally promoting Europe as a vibrant space for cultural diversity, citizenship, democracy, freedom and peace,” stressed Darko Brlek, President European Festivals and ”we are very happy that Colm Croffy’s team with AOIFE will provide excellent management of the exciting project in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.”
Activities foreseen in EFFE’s work programme include, amongst others: an inclusive EFFE Festival Label granted to as many festivals as possible based on a number of criteria determined by EFFE; EFFE Festival Awards given to a selected number of festivals for excellence; an EFFE Festival Guide promoting Award and Label winners via various digital and print formats; an EFFE Festival Gala that presents the festivals receiving the Awards and Labels; and an Outreach Programme promoting and reflecting on festival trends and challenges. An International Festivals Jury of eminent leaders from the arts, culture, business, and political sectors will steer the selection process of festivals. The application and selection process will be launched in late spring. Interested festivals will find detailed information on the project online.
“This is a really wonderful opportunity for AOIFE member festivals to have their talents and creative programmes validated by Europe and promoted by the Cultural Commission and I am looking forward to seeing more Irish Festivals and Cultural Events engage in collaborations and co-productions with their European partners. It affirms our peers’ appraisal of the strength of the Irish Festival Association – which is the third largest in Europe,” stated Executive Director Colm Croffy.
This is the second largest European project the Irish Association has been involved in with European Partners - having co-produced last year , with nine other Festival Associations “Music Festivals: A Changing World” the first benchmarking report on Festivals in a trans-European context
A.O.I.F.E. is 21 years old and has been based in Ballinasloe since 2002. It boasts over 350 Irish Festival and Event members, is supported by Failte Ireland and recognised by the Arts, Cultural andTourism Authorities in Belfast and Dublin as the key representative and Training Network for the Sector.