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Four Timely Talks about Social Change at Amsterdam Dance Event

Photo by: Jimmy Woo
by Graham Berry | @FestivalWriter Mon October 16, 2017 | 12:53 PM

Social change is on the forefront of everyone's minds lately, but it’s not always a popular idea in the festival world. On the one hand, it has a certain personal ideological appeal for festival marketers. At the same time, it lacks the same revenue-driving horsepower that headliners and art installations have in event production today.

If we view festivals in all their splendor against the backdrop of political conflict and social injustice that we see in the media today, it’s somewhat disheartening to observe that, save for a few goodwill gestures, many fests have become fantastic experiences that fail to channel all that energy into collective purpose.

Amsterdam Dance Event 2016 Courtesy Of 30

Still, there is a new market emerging. As evidenced by the growing trend of festivals incorporating activism and charitable efforts into their programming, the industry has a hunger for social wellness and actionable ideas. The empowered speech from Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, at Glastonbury (just before he introduced Run The Jewels) this year was a strong example of this in Europe where festivals have long been active in the business of ideas and activism.

The trouble in the U.S. is that while some are doubling down on their efforts by investing in alternative education programs and activism, other festivals are hesitant to follow suit. Sure, festivals don’t need to be politically or socially engaging to be a great time but, should they choose to, it’s nice to know that there are fantastic models already making an impact in their respective regions. Coincidentally, just as the rest of the world can (and often does) look to Amsterdam for bold leadership, so too can the festival community of producers turn to Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), an incredible festival/industry conference, for cultural leadership into the future.

Here are four industry-leading talks on social change at Amsterdam Dance Event 2017 you won’t want to miss!

How Festivals Can Improve Humanitarian Aid by Duncan Stutterheim and Juriaan Lahr

Location: DeLaMar Theater (D5 Panel Room) | Marnixstraat 402, Amsterdam
Date: Oct 18, 2017 14:15 - 14:45

Americans at ADE will want to take note of this workshop about festivals as a source of humanitarian aid. Where most folks may not even feel comfortable assembling a tent, just about any run-of-the-mill festie can show up with a high degree self-reliance, ready to weather the elements. They’ll lend a helping hand to their neighbors and leave no trace on their way out, too. What better way to have that energy make an impact than to channel it directly into relief efforts in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico?

The two presenters are among the top brass of the festival industry. Representing a key ingredient in the ADE recipe this year, the talk will be lead by Duncan Stutterheim, the acclaimed Dutch entrepreneur and founder of ID&T, and Juriaan Lahr, the Director of International Operations for the Netherlands Red Cross. With a creative duo like this it’s going to be so much more than the tired old “click here to donate” approach.

Festivals Leading the Way to a Sustainable Future by Pecha Kucha

Location: DeLaMar Theater (D8 Panel Room) | Marnixstraat 402, Amsterdam
Date: Oct 18 11:30 - 12:15

The ADE Green program offers plenty of talks featuring fresh inquiries into the eco-conscious side of festivaling. If this is your cup of tea, you won’t want to miss the keynote presentation from Pecha Kucha. She’ll unpack the work of organizations like Open-House, Innofest and the Revolution Foundation and review five marvels of innovation from different areas of the world, all with a potential to make life better, inside and outside the festival world. She’ll also explain how festivals are a catalyst for a genuine transition towards true sustainability.

Defiance on the Dancefloor: How Nightlife Empowered the LGTBQ+ Community (& Vice Versa) by Bogomir Doringer, Peter van Vught and Loren Granich

Location: DeLaMar Theater (D8 Panel Room) | Marnixstraat 402, Amsterdam
Date: Oct 18 15:30 - 16:15

In a surprising collaboration with Absolut Vodka, story seekers at ADE will get to discover one of the most powerful, but little known, narratives in dance music. The presentation totes three experience-savvy speakers: Serbian researcher Bogomir Doringer, Paradiso booker and promoter Peter van Vught and the second generation DJ from Los Angeles, Loren Granich, who is affectionately known as “GodDollars.” Together, the trifecta promises a look back at New York’s iconic gay bar, the Stonewall, which was raided in June of 1969. As a last vestige for the most vulnerable and poor gay citizens in the city, the raid set in motion a backlash that swelled in force and ferocity, blossoming into what before long became known as the Stonewall Riots.

This panel investigates the resulting ripple effect, the impact these events had on house music, Madonna and the culture of safe space both at dance music festivals and local clubs around the world.

Art For Social Change: How To Start A Revolution by Nadya Tolokonnikova

Location: DeLaMar Theater (D8 Panel Room) | Marnixstraat 402, Amsterdam
Date: Oct 18 16:45 - 17:30

From Banksy to Shepard Fairey, the line between art and protest gets thinner by the year. Though, when it comes to art and its impact on politics, there are few as well-versed as the founder of the evocative art collective Pussy Riot, Nadya Tolokonnikova. At ADE her presentation will explore the intersection of art and music as a source of lasting social change. For all the budding revolutionaries at the hybrid festival-conference, this is sure to be a favorite. If missed, it’s almost sure to conjure the worst kind of FOMO, too. Only five years ago, Pussy Riot garnered worldwide attention with an anti-Putin performance in a Moscow Cathedral. It even picked up support from Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bjork and Aung San Suu Kyi, but as a result, Tolokonnikova and her bandmates were sentenced to two years in Russia’s toughest prison.

While arduous and brutal, the experience only served to validate her fight further (on the outside) while it strengthened her resolve. She emerged with a book called How to Start a Revolution with more than two hundred tips for aspiring rebels, and a Kickstarter campaign for an immersive theater production wistfully named “to remind us what is worth fighting for.”

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