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Asia-Europe Festivals Exchange Programme: Atelier For Young Festival Managers

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
14 May 11 - 21 May 11 Culture Department Artists' Network Culture



Held for the first time in Asia, the Atelier for Young Festival Managers programme brought 34 festival managers from all over the world to Singapore during the Singapore Arts Festival. Through presentations, group discussions and workshops, the programme fostered an exchange of knowledge and experience and encouraged a reflection on the role of festivals in today’s societies within the framework of international cultural co-operation.

Guided by a quote by Bernard Faivre d’Arcier, former long-standing Artistic Director of the Avignon Festival, “Car le vrai rôle d’un festival est d’aider les artistes à oser, à entreprendre des projets...” (The true role of a festival is to help artists to dare, to engage in new projects), the Atelier inspired participants to develop exciting new ideas under the professional guidance of renowned festival managers. These include:

  • Rose Fenton (Co-founder of London International Theatre Festival);
  • Goh Ching Lee (former Director of Singapore International Arts Festival and founder of the Association of Asian Performing Arts Festivals);
  • Hugo De Greef (General Manager, Bruges European Capital of Culture 2002); and
  • Nele Hertling (Vice-Chair of the Academy of Arts Berlin).

The Atelier included presentations, group discussions and intensive workshops where participants examined topics relating to creating a festival vision and programme. Seven renowned festival directors also shared their experiences during the guest lectures. Participants for the programme were selected by a panel of experts in February 2011. ASEF supported 17 participants from Asia and Europe.

As part of this event, a public talk was held on Friday 20 May 2011 on the topic "Serving Artists Serves the Public". It was held at LASALLE College of the Arts and included keynote lecture by Robyn Archer, Director of Light in Winter festival, Australia. The public talk and panel discussion gave the audience of over 200 people an opportunity to hear from international cultural leaders. You can see photos from this event here .

ASEF's contribution to this programme is with the generous support of Dr Haruhisa Handa (IFAC Chairman).


  • Association of Asian Performing Arts Festivals
  • CultureLink
  • European Festivals Association (EFA)
  • LASALLE College of the Arts
  • Singapore Arts Festival

Project Updates

  • ASEF’s newest e-publication, ‘Serving Artists Serves the Public’, talks about the opportunities and challenges of programming arts festivals in Asia and Europe. 

    The publication is a compilation of 13 articles on various facets of managing arts festivals and was produced in partnership with the European Festivals Association (EFA) and LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. It is a follow-up to the Atelier for Young Festival Managers held in May 2011 in Singapore. 

    Among the contributors are Ms Robyn ARCHER, the multi-faceted Australian artist; Mr Hugo DE GREEF, theatre director and Advisor to the Minister of Culture for the Flemish Community; Ms Kathrin DEVENTER, Secretary General of EFA; Ms Katelijn VERSTRAETE, Director, Arts & Creative Industries (East Asia), British Council; and Ms Audrey WONG, Singapore’s first Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) for its arts community. Their articles are a useful reflection on the social role of local and international festivals, as well as the need for capacity building among young festival managers.

    This publication also has relevance in the context of the Action Plan of Culture Ministers of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which recognises the importance of festivals and other major public events in “presenting the culture of Europe in Asia or vice-versa” (2nd ASEM Culture Ministers Meeting in 2005 in Paris, France).

    Download Link:

  • The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) launches a new e-publication, “Serving Artists Serves the Public: Programming Arts Festivals in Asia and Europe”. The content is based on the challenges and opportunities of programming arts festivals in Asia and Europe. The launch will take place at the European Festivals Association (EFA)’s General Assembly and Conference on 18-21 April in Granada, Spain.

    The publication is a compilation of 13 articles on various facets of managing arts festivals. This includes the social role of local and international festivals and capacity building for young festival managers.

    Among the contributors were Robyn Archer, the multi-faceted Australian artist, Hugo De Greef, theatre director and Advisor to the Minister of Culture for the Flemish Community, Kathrin Deventer, Secretary General of EFA, Katelijn Verstraete, Director, Arts & Creative Industries (East Asia), British Council, and Audrey Wong, Singapore’s first Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) for Singapore's arts community.

    This e-publication is a follow up to the ASEF-supported Atelier for Young Festival Managers (May 2011, Singapore). The project is a collaboration between ASEF, EFA and LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore.


    Developing unique creative visions for arts festivals is what’s needed by today’s festival organisers in a globalised world. That’s what the Atelier for Young Festival Managers will achieve.

    This Atelier is the first of its kind in Asia. Taking place in Singapore (14-21 May 2011) during the Singapore Arts Festival, it will train the next generation of festival directors. They will learn to produce relevant and engaging arts events.

    The Mentors

    Over 40 festival professionals from all over the world will attend this Atelier. The week-long programme comprises a series of lectures and workshops at the LaSalle College of the Arts. During the sessions participants will learn from established mentors who will share their experiences with their younger peers.

    Former Singapore Arts Festival director Goh Ching Lee is among the mentors at the Atelier. Others include internationally acclaimed festival experts such as Grace Lang, director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival programme, and Gerard Mortier, former Director of the Paris Opera.

    The organisers

    The Atelier is coordinated by Belgian arts consultant Hugo de Greef. It is co-organised by the European Festivals Association, the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and the LaSalle College of the Arts.

  • More than 30 young festival makers from Asia and Europe had a unique opportunity to learn from international experts thanks to a generous gift from Japanese philanthropist Dr Haruhisa Handa.

    The gift to the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) from Dr Handa, who is chairman of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture (IFAC), went towards supporting the first Asian edition of the Atelier for Young Festival Managers. The Atelier is an intensive one-week training programme for young festival professionals. It took place in Singapore alongside the Singapore Arts Festival from 14 to 21 May 2011 and was organised by the European Festivals Association (EFA) – the initiator of the event – ASEF and LASALLE College of the Arts.

    Throughout the programme, participants from all over the world discussed the state of festivals in today’s society. They consistently observed that they were grateful for the opportunity to meet practitioners who were working in similar, sometimes difficult, environments and they were confident this will become a lasting network of festival managers. The gift helped to support 17 of the participants from Asian and European countries.

    ASEF Executive Director Ambassador Dominique Girard said, “Festivals are an increasingly important artistic and cultural platform which fosters exchanges between individuals and communities from all over the world. In choosing to support the Atelier, Dr Handa has helped to develop the next generation of festival leaders by enabling them to connect with their contemporaries in a supportive learning environment.”

    Dr Handa, who is also a practising artist, founded IFAC in 1996 with a view to contributing to the development of arts and culture on a global scale, promoting goodwill across national boundaries, regardless of differences in languages and religions, and assisting the training of artists and musicians. Its main activities include organising charitable public performances of the Japanese arts of Noh plays and calligraphic works, as well as the western arts of opera and classical ballet.

    For more information on making a gift to ASEF, please contact Leonie Nagarajan at +65 6874 9736 or email

    Find out more about IFAC.

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