Fanny Martin: What defines a good contemporary festival?

What connects the organization of a contemporary festival with the theme of Broken Relationships? For Fanny Martin, our new executive director, the answer lies in the fusion of art, personal narratives and contemporary challenges. In our conversation with her, we explored how modern festivals become places of engagement, inspiration and connection.
 
What defines a good contemporary festival?
 
I think of festivals as the intersection of 3 dimensions: Place, People and Programme. A good festival is one that is rooted in a place - city, region, village, park… -, makes people resonate with each other, and offers a memorable experience, outside the ordinary. 
 
Why does this festival have a theme?
 
The theme here functions as a title. It provides an entry point for the audience into the festival programme by proposing a thread between different artworks and stories. Internally, we also use it as a focus lens to make programming and communications decisions. 
 
What do you feel we are breaking up with in the context of contemporary festival?
 
When we run a festival, we uphold so many relationships - with people, with place, with tradition and creation… But it’s the relationship with time that I find most complex and fragile. A festival is caught up between multiple cycles, each with their own scale and rules. For example, because we work internationally, we keep track of funding deadlines across several countries. Internally, we attend to numerous daily production tasks, while already planning for 2027 and 2029. There’s also an intriguing contrast in the nature of time during the festival: for artists, the festival team, and all our partners and collaborators, the festival is an intense working period; for our audience, it’s leisure time. 
 
How close do you feel to the theme of Broken Relationships? Do you feel that a broken relationship is a universal theme that anyone can relate to? 
 
I love that this theme is poetically rich and serves as a great conversation starter. It’s especially effective at triggering associative thinking, so when you start exploring it, you never quite know where it will take you. It also applies to a multitude of contexts, human and non-human, and it raises essential questions about relationships - intentional, inherited, consensual, uninvited - and how to navigate them.