Robert Piaskowski, Deputy Director for Programme Planning of the Krakow Festival Office, joined an illustrious group of guests at a prestigious conference organised by the British Council and Edinburgh International Festivals. Its participants presented models to be emulated and asked the question of how to avoid the artistic overloading that is experienced by many of the world’s biggest cities.
The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) is one of the world’s most prestigious festivals in the fields of theatre, opera, music, audiovisual arts and ballet. The most outstanding artists, directors, conductors and choreographers apply to participate in this event every year, and a number of international festivals held in Edinburgh have promoted and contributed to the renown of the city, generating huge profits for the city almost immediately after the establishment of the event. They include: Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, “Imaginate” International Children and Young Audience Festival, International Book Festival and Science Festival.
The EIF is an association of several independent events that make up the biggest cultural festival in the world. Every year, it is accompanied by a prestigious conference of huge international renown, attracting enthusiasts, cultural activists and representatives of local governments from all corners of the world. This year’s event was also attended by a Polish delegate: the Krakow Festival Office’s Robert Piaskowski. He appeared alongside outstanding representatives of culture such as Faith Liddell – Director, Festivals Edinburgh; Marta Almirall – Director, La Merce Festival; Christie Anthoney – Executive Officer, Festivals Adelaide; Daniel Bissonnette – Director of Cinema, Festivals, Events at Ville de Montreal (City of Montreal); and Ben Twist – Director, Creative Carbon Scotland.
Investment in the creation of new international artistic festivals is the goal that Krakow wants to pursue. The most important topics brought up at this year’s festival in Edinburgh included: mutual competition for audiences, resources and media. Also discussed were the challenges faced by Krakow and the Krakow Festival Office in the context of new social challenges: gentrification, deglomeration of the city, the ageing of society, social cohesiveness, social inclusion, the importance of sustainable festivals (including ecological festivals) in the future management of the cultural policy of the city, more extensive connection with the creative and IT sector, the strengthening of ties with universities, an analysis of legal solutions, the impact of festivals on the local economy and the international traffic of artists.
One of the events accompanying the EIF is the Edinburgh International Book Festival, where Poland was represented this year. Mr. Piaskowski took part in the opening ceremony of the festival, which, being organised since 1983, is currently the world’s biggest event of this kind. It is worth remembering that Edinburgh became the first city to join the prestigious UNESCO City of Literature programme in 2004 thanks to this festival.
The EIF emerged as the result of an idea of a huge international project that would build a platform for artistic agreement beyond political borders. Thanks to the efforts of enthusiasts, cultural activists, local governments and the British central government, the first Edinburgh International Festival was held in 1947. Since then, it has been organised every year, enjoying increasing popularity and recognition. It is also profitable, even though donations from the public sector are much smaller than in the case of many other similar festivals around the world.