The European Festivals Association has launched in 2015 a comprehensive guide of Festivals in Europe that have been honoured with EFFE labels and EFFE awards. Many festivals in Portugal have applied to this initiative and are listed in the guide. I have been asked to write an introducing text reflecting about the scene in the country at this moment in time; to do so I drew a path across the territory by looking at some of these cases, which are representative of an expanded activity that involves several scales, missions, artistic directions and community impacts. the EFFE guide website
Portugal in festivals: an exciting map of quality and diversity
By Paula Varanda
Reporting a ‘scene’ of festivals in Portugal in 2015 is an inspiring assignment due to the considerable number, quality and diversity of consolidated events that spread across the country. A mapping of these initiatives will generally mirror the demographic concentration near the coast, within the axis of the cities of Lisbon (the capital) and Porto (the second-largest city), accentuated with rural exodus since the 1970s. This area is considerably better-served with public transport and accessibility, a higher incidence of industry or commerce business, and infrastructures such as universities, museums and theatres. Settlement and mobility directly depend on these conditions, which in turn affect cultural development of our regions and metropolitan areas.
In the last 15 years professionals, policies and funding programmes have tried to compensate, with some degree of success, the unbalance of such centred, bipolar and coastal orientation; thus several festivals are today distinguished for their fundamental development of cultural life away from the cities or towards the interior, which is much less populated and deprived of the conditions referred above. No less important are, on the other hand, the flows of people and ideas within and into the big urban clusters, which have been instigated by outstanding cultural festivals. PDF to continue reading