Origin of the EFA

The European Festivals Association (EFA) was founded in Geneva in 1952 upon the joint initiative of the eminent conductor Igor Markewitch and the great philosopher Denis de Rougemont, with fifteen festivals making up the core (Aix-en-Provence, Bayreuth, Berlin, Besançon, Bordeaux, Florence, Holland, Lucerne, Munich, Perugia, Strasbourg, Venice, Vienna, Wiesbaden and Zurich). The founders were deeply engaged in the quality and the social responsibility of festivals.

The creation of the Association coincided with other accomplishments in the late 40s and early 50s aimed at reuniting the countries of Europe after World War II. Denis de Rougemont insisted on the urgent need for cultural integration of Europe as expressed in the words believed to be said by Jean Monnet: "If it were to be done over again, I'd start with culture".

The EFA is a professional, non-governmental, non-profit making and apolitical international association. This independent status makes it possible for the Association to work in the best interest of its members.

EFA is the major professional organisation of festivals for the performing arts (music, theatre, dance) as well as interdisciplinary festivals in Europe.

Evolution of the EFA

Today, the European Festivals Association counts more than 100 individual members and national festivals associations and networks. EFA is the network of Europe’s arts festivals, representing music, dance and theatre festivals and arts organisations in almost 40 mainly European countries.

EFA embraces festivals up north in the Scandinavian countries down to Spain, Greece and Portugal in Southern Europe, from Russia, South-Eastern Europe and Turkey to festivals in central Europe reaching out to members in Lebanon, Israel, Mexico, Japan, Armenia, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

EFA members share significant artistic, cultural, social and political objectives. They also share a passion for ART, an opening to the world and a spirit of INNOVATION. Each festival takes place in a specific local context but all of them strive to generate a stimulating and collective joyous atmosphere among AUDIENCES and artists.

EFA offers support to festivals in their significant mission of working together, exchanging ideas, stimulating creativity, extending horizons, and creating new dynamics and synergies. The Association’s long history, the quality of its members, and its large European and worldwide visibility enables our Association to play a significant role in a broader set of activities and contexts. This is why we invite all festivals active in the field of the performing arts (music, dance and theatre) to join us.

By changing the Statutes in 1997, EFA opened the way to develop into a representative umbrella organisation of European festivals. New categories of membership were introduced for 'collective' members. Today, 13 national/regional Associations are part of EFA, representing more than 1000 arts festivals on their behalf.