It’s been four years now since Arty Farty, the organisation behind Lyon music festival ‘Les Nuits Sonores’, began the European Lab, or the ‘Lab’ as it’s now known.
Over the years the Lab has developed into a significant forum for professional exchange and creative discussion. Director Vincent Carry has also spoken openly about the political vocation of the event. “It’s 2014, digitisation and globalisation have caused major changes and cultural policies have not taken these changes into account. The objective is to move forward in this debate.” To better express this evolution the Lab has moved away from a focus on festivals to a more wide-ranging cultural discussion.
Carry explained that it was a natural development: “It started as a circle of reflexion between a group of festival directors, because it’s often at festivals that the most innovative cultural proposals take place, and in the last two years we’ve expanded this idea to cultural policies in general.”
This year, running from May 27 to May 30, the European Lab begins just hours after the European and Ukrainian elections, and it will not shy away from discussing these key political events. “The circumstances and coincidental timing will naturally encourage debate and questions on the role of culture, innovation and youth in the recovery of the European dream,” describes the press release.
The chance overlap with the elections has impelled organisers to reflect on the current situation in Ukraine. To show support for the Ukrainian youth in their political and cultural movement the Lab has invited a representative from Izolyatsia, a platform for cultural initiatives based in Donetsk, and will donate a portion of the ticket sales to the organisation.
Since 2011, Hotel de Ville in Lyon has welcomed representatives from virtually all the big European festivals (Eurockéennes, Sónar, Primavera Sound) as well as those from around the world (Burning Man in the US). It has also hosted leading political figures in culture and innovation, such as social theorist and activist Jeremy Rifkin, former Director of Libération Nicolas Demorand, and former German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joschka Fisher.
This year the forum extends to the brand new Hotel de Region in the recently developed Confluence neighbourhood. Among the 2014 line-up is fashion designer and filmmaker, Agnès B and film director Michel Gondry, whose latest work tells the story of celebrated American philosopher Noam Chomsky.
The programme is shaped around four daily themes, starting with ‘reinventing cultural policies’ on Tuesday May 27, culture and the ‘city of tomorrow’ on Wednesday, ‘new media and cultural consumption’ on Thursday and a reflection on the ‘music industry and innovation’ on Friday.
Each morning the Lab’s programme includes workshops and keynotes (registration required) but in the afternoon a variety of conferences are open to the public. There are also “speedmeetings” at midday, which offer participants the opportunity to exchange ideas, contacts and find support for their projects. “We think the public are interested in this debate on the revival of culture” said Carry.
The Lab brings together a hundred speakers and some five hundred accredited professionals. The organisers estimate that between four and five thousand guests will attend the various events this year. A year that, according to Carry, brings the Lab into “its maturity”.
For more information visit the European Lab website.