EJN Staff Exchange Programme

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Previous participant: Milica Ševarlić

From: Belgrade Jazz Festival (Serbia)
To: International JazzFestival Saalfelden (Austria)
18 - 28 August 2017


Exchange Report

Within Europe Jazz Network staff exchange program I had the opportunity to spend 10 days in Saalfelden, Austria and to work with great International Jazzfestival Saalfelden organizing team. 
Saalfelden is a beautiful, picturesque small city, with around 16.000 inhabitants, placed in the Midle-Alpe region. Surrounded with mountain peaks, mostly rocky and raw, in contrast with fresh green meadows, Saalfelden is a perfect stage for any kind of pastoral story or traditional based music festival. So I was wondering how this setup will "welcome" jazz scenery in days that are following.
My professional engagement started in Saalfelden tourist office, the main organizer of the festival, where kind and very professional Daniela Neumayer welcomed me and gave me some basic information about the preparation process and my future duties within the team. I learned more about the sectors and responsibilities of her colleagues, but also about the working space, the city and the concert locations.
In following few days my activities were focused partly on office work - preparations of artist passes for example, but mostly on the spot: setup of VIP area, Artist info room, backstage, etc.
During the festival I had my day and afternoon shifts in Artist info room, together with Sabrina Rieder, my very helpful Saalfelden colleague. When needed, I took care of soundcheck/concert timing, helping the artists find their way to backstage or stage area, and with any other questions they had.
Important part of my duties was social media activities at evening programs - during the festival I was responsible for Facebook and Instagram posts: photos, videos, live posts, promotion of upcoming events on the daily basis.
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I had helpful conversations about different segments of organization process with members of International Jazzfestival Saalfelden team: Daniela Neumayer in chief for organization matters, Selina Hörl in charge for PR, Marco Pontiner as CEO of Sallfelden Leogang tourist office, Michaela Mayer and Mario Steidl as program managers of the festival, but also with many others who had important roles in preparations and realization of the Festival. We exchanged experiences and practices, similarities and differences, regarding Saalfelden and Belgrade jazz festivals, hopefully to the benefit for both sides.
This renowned festival offered also the great opportunity for me to meet some other people from the broader European jazz family - musicians, journalists, agents, promoters etc - both old acquaintances and new friends, possible associates in the future. And finally to spend some time with our dear friends from Europe Jazz Network team: Francesca, Stefano and Giambattista.
Besides getting better understanding about the production process form the inside and having a different angle of professional aspect from the one back home, I really enjoyed festival's program, especially following concerts: Brian Marsela Trio, David Helbock Quartet, Angles 9, Wolfgang Puschnig, 5K HD... But, in the meantime, also the beautiful environment and cityscape.
After 10 days spent at this exceptional exchange program I got a lot of new experiences, contacts and ideas, and I hope I shared some of mine with Austrian colleagues too. The exchange program is fantastic opportunity not only to get better understanding of the music business environment surrounding jazz on the European market, but also the brilliant way to understand how different cultural context shapes the interaction of the festival with society and the dynamics of building up the program.
EJN exchange offers extremely valuable experience and is highly recommended cultural project which is enlarging the scope of understanding of professionals what can we do better within our own festival.
I have left  Saalfelden with the impression that this respectful festival is important part of the European network, for the sheer quality of the music we have been exposed to during the event.
And for sure I was convinced that Saalfelden landscape is just the right setting for jazz music and place for jazz lovers to come and enjoy.
Many thanks to my fantastic hosts, EJN team for this opportunity and high recommendations to all EJN members to participate in this program!