Shared experiences and spaces are part and parcel of any festival, but they also promote placemaking – the very practical science of creating public spaces to promote well-being, coupled with a desire to foster local pride. This second, more intangible goal relies on a unified sense of shared ownership and belonging. In short, creative harmony breeds social harmony.

Cultural engagement plays a vital role in achieving this, hence the growing resolve among festival directors to build social capital. 

The Edinburgh International Festival and Festival d’Avignon both have new Directors in Nicola Benedetti and Tiago Rodrigues respectively. Their sister festival in Adelaide has also welcomed Ruth Mackenzie who previously served as Artistic Director of the Holland Festival, where she built on her predecessor Pierre Audi’s legacy of engaging with an increasingly diverse Dutch population. The founding principles of the festival – renewal, innovation and experimentation – were key to cultivating activism that was democratic and artist-driven. 

Édouard Louis in Qui a tué mon père (Who Killed My Father?) coming to the Adelaide Festival. Photo © Jean-Louis Fernandez

With social cohesion a rapidly growing priority, that experience stood Mackenzie in good stead when she launched the