An arts festival is a festival that features the arts in a wide sense of the word, not just visual arts. Arts festivals typically feature a mixed program that might include music, literature, comedy, children's entertainment, science, street theatre etc. and are presented most usually in venues over a period of time ranging from as short as a day or a weekend to a month. Each event within the program will usually be separately ticketed. They are largely curated by an Artistic Director, though this genre also includes fringe festivals which are generally open access. Arts festivals are therefore distinctive from greenfield festivals (typically weekend camping festivals such as Glastonbury) and Visual Arts Festivals, or "art festivals" (which concentrate on just the visual arts).
Probably the two oldest arts festivals are in England. The Three Choirs Festival in the West of England was established as a "yearly musical assembly" by 1719. The other is the Norfolk and Norwich Festival which first took place in 1772. The largest arts festival in England today is the Brighton Festival Fringe.
Leading arts festivals include the Edinburgh Festival in Edinburgh, Adelaide Festival of Arts in Adelaide, the Biennale of Sydney, Festival d'Avignon in Avignon, France, and Tongyeong International Music Festival in Tongyeong, Korea and Sanskruti Arts Festival, Upvan, India. One-off arts festivals have included the Liverpool08 European Capital of Culture in 2008.
Types of arts festivals
A festival billed as an "arts festival" generally focuses on multiple arts, for example music and visual art. Fringe festivals are a type of arts festival, often focusing on many arts but sometimes focusing on a specific art such as theater more than others.
An art festival or art fair is a subgenre of arts festival that focuses on visual art specifically, or specific fields of visual art such as new media art festivals. Other art festivals are billed as photography festivals or street art festivals, for example.
Festivals of visual arts are also not to be confused with the commercial art fair. Artists participate in the most important of such festival exhibitions by invitation, and these exhibitions (e.g. the Venice Biennale) are organised by internationally recognized curators chosen by a committee of peers. These international exhibitions must also be distinguished from art fairs, market-oriented gatherings of art dealers and their wares, which have recently emerged as among the most important art-world venues for promoting artists and sales of contemporary art in the present-day super-heated art market.
- Pam Korza; Dian Magie (1989). The Arts Festival Work Kit. Arts Extension Service. ISBN 978-0-945464-02-0.
- Archived December 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- Archived June 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Archer, Robyn (October 2006). "Putting Festivals in their Place". Keynote address to the British Festivals Association conference. Cardiff.
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