Welcome to The Village Festival - EFFE Laureate

Simon Mundy - 25 Jul 2019

Get more info about Welcome to The Village Festival

Simon Mundy's interview with Artistic Leader Sjoerd Bootsma:

Welcome to The Village (WTTV) is 'an invitation – to spend time, reflect, contribute and have a seat at the table,' says Sjoerd Bootsma, who describes himself as 'Artistic leader'. In a way we are a protest against mass events, creating space and a place for four days, a Utopian ideal of how a village should be run, a hands-on DIY approach to activism.' He actually collates the notion of practical activism into the not-entirely dictionary legitimate 'practivism'.

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WTTV calls itself 'the most beautiful small festival in The Nertherlands'. It is held in a recreation area and nature reserve on the Eastern fringe of Leeuwarden, capital of Friesland (the northernmost region of The Netherlands) and one of last year's European Capitals of Culture. For him WTTV is only partly an artistic happening. It is as much a social and political statement about the way we should live together, co-operate, volunteer and then enjoy ourselves – and about looking forward to the middle of the century. 'How we organise is just as important as what we organise.' he says. The festival is helped by around 1000 volunteers, many of them from parts of society usually pushed to the margins: those with mental health issues, the elderly, and refugees.

'A village for a festival is temporary,' Sjoerd points out, 'but the infrastructure that supports it is permanent.' So he has year-round relationships with local farmers who supply the food, as well the management of De Groene Ster, the nature reserve in which the festival takes place. He is also proud that, through the top Dutch technical universities like TU Delft, WTTV has helped several start-ups by testing their prototype ideas. Now that openness has become global, with the festival taking on a role as laboratory for new initiatives from all around the world.

'We want to show that the arts are the most important drivers of change.' The artists and entertainers chosen to appear at WTTV tend to be deliberately genre-bending, like the festival itself resisting being categorised. Sjoerd says the festival is all about different concepts of time and how you spend it. He draws the distinction between the two embodiments of time in Greek myth, Kronos and Kairos. Kronos is seen as the establishment clock, the inexorable and unchanging sequence, whereas as Kairos is flexible and considered. 'We see the festival as a way of escaping the usual clock; of creating a temporary society that has an optimal atmosphere of understanding.'

Note from the EFFE International Jury

Welcome To The Village, in Leeuwarden, northern Netherlands is a pop festival that creates an all-inclusive family feeling on its outdoor festival site. Its raison d’être is ecological and social sustainability, wrapped in an energetic 4-day music party that not only focuses on these 4 days, but also thinks about what our world will look like in five or fifty years’ time. Besides their high quality line-up (which also includes classical music, ‘world music’, visual arts, et al.), they organize DORP - hundreds of students, artists, volunteers, designers, scientists, visitors working together - which uses the festival as a testlab for innovative ideas in different areas, incl. food sustainability.

Welcome to The Village Festival

18 Jul 2019 - 21 Jul 2019

Leeuwarden, Netherlands