Some reflections on the future of festival practice in Europe. The conclusion: a new toolkit

The fact that festivals are organic meeting places of interested and motivated citizen’s offers great opportunities for a more intensive interaction between them as consumers of art and culture and as voters, citizens and taxpayers. If festival managers are tuned in to, and therefore, derive some of their artistic focus and direction from, these changes in the global, political context then they can contribute to citizens achieving a deeper understanding of the principles of the ‘value community’ that now form the foundation of a democratic Europe. But achieving this is not a function of festivals alone but will require new alliances and instruments if we are to exploit this potential to the full.

In terms of festival management this will require more attention to be given to the relationship of festivals to citizenship and civil society; their relationship with stakeholders; the consequences of the family life cycle; the interactive models for communication and programme development and in particular the role of the festival organisation itself as a citizenship educator: by which is meant that a festival should include space in its programme where audiences can learn and engage with the basic notions of what it means to be a citizen and the rights and responsibilities that this carries in terms of being able to vote, carry a passport and enjoy the benefits of citizenship.

If all these topics are part of innovative festival management, we can look forward to seeing festivals more able to adapt to the exciting and challenging times of our contemporary, staccato society by offering a systematic response and approach which draws upon models and practices from business, sociology, psychology, political science as well as European history and citizenship education.