“An atmosphere of enormous goodwill”

Programming

I haven’t been writing about festivals for a little while, for the good reason that I was actually neck deep into one myself. I’m just emerging from a few intense weeks of planning that culminated in the 7th Luminato Festival, a multidisciplinary arts festival in Toronto for which I coordinated the volunteer programme.

While I will no doubt come back to volunteer management, a topic that I have addressed before, for now I want to get back into contemplative mode and to admire other festivals from a safe distance.

As I was busy training and scheduling 500 volunteers in Toronto, 200 horses and 3,000 sheep and goats were arriving in Marseille, this year’s European Capital of Culture. TransHumance, a flagship event of this year-long celebration of culture, was a huge participatory effort offering many ways to get engaged, from walking alongside the herds to contributing to the land art creations. The project still continues with some exhibitions and talks, and a book is due to be published, but right now the many photos and videos of the arrival into Marseille are beautiful to watch.

TransHumance, Marseille, 9th June 2013

The crowd assembling and waiting reminded me of another large-scale street spectacle I had seen during Liverpool Capital of Culture 2008, a giant spider called La Princesse created by French company La Machine.

La Princesse, Liverpool, 5th – 7th September 2008

To conclude, here is a quote by an audience member in Liverpool (found on Artichoke’s website, the creative company behind La Princesse and, perhaps more famously, The Sultan’s Elephant in London, in 2006).

I have never before witnessed an event on this scale which set out to, and manifestly achieved, the sole intent of making the world a slightly better place. No requirement to buy anything, no commitment to a cause, no politics, no promotion, no underlying propaganda. Just hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world gathered in Liverpool in an atmosphere of enormous goodwill.

Mike Kinley, audience member

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