Bozcaada Jazz Festival’s Keşif program, which develops every year and will now be positioned as the main brand, aims to establish a balance between different curation practices while bringing together advocacy areas with the festival theme through events with different content and formats.
With the intention of creating a community based on the program, ‘Current Issues, New Possibilities’ opens up space to discuss current issues regarding the festival’s advocacy areas around new possibilities, and establishes a curatorial structure that shapes and mutually feeds each other around the theme of the festival.
How might we create a community that thrives and grows organically through a program?
The BCF Keşif program, which consists of interdisciplinary events developed around a different theme every year and spreads the energy of Bozcaada Jazz Festival to the whole island, focuses on the festival’s advocacy areas titled Gender Equality, Social Inclusion and Ecological Transformation.
Emre Erbirer, who has taken on different roles such as speaker, moderator, and facilitator in the program since the first years of the festival, has started to undertake the program curation of a section titled ‘Current Issues, New Possibilities’ within the BCF Keşif program for the last two years. This special section in the program, which takes place in line with the festival’s advocacy areas and span many different disciplines; also touches different areas such as cultural policies, local and cultural history, gastronomy, entrepreneurship, art and well-being.
While some events within the scope of BCF Keşif were organized with a ‘content partner’, some events were directly programmed by the festival team, and some were created together with the festival sponsors. Apart from these approaches, ‘Current Issues, New Possibilities’ is the only section of the festival programmed by an external program curator.
For the program design, a comprehensive desk research was first conducted, focusing on the festival’s theme and advocacy areas. A database of individuals, communities, organizations and brands in the areas touching the theme of the festival and the content, events and programs they produce has been created. As a result of this research, the main issues that emerged regarding the themes and advocacy areas were also determined.
The main strategy of the program was created in line with the data obtained within the research. A curatorial approach was developed to align this strategy with the festival’s advocacy areas and theme, and the contents were matched with discipline, format and advocacy area.
While designing and curating this section, we aimed to ensure that the different people who have come together within the scope of the festival in the past years and beyond can become a community that shares common values and learns/produces together and to produce quality content in the advocacy areas of the festival and to facilitate collaborations. We dreamed of seeing that the program, like its name, and open up space for new discoveries and acquaintances and whether it was possible to position KEŞİF as a brand.
In addition, in the strategic design study carried out with the festival team using the creative tensions method, it was aimed that the program prioritize interaction and experience, open space for new content instead of the usual and known, establish a balance between inspiration and learning, prioritize participant experience and satisfaction over the numbers, and establish a bond between the public and industry professionals.
We created the curatorial approach for the program based on strategic design. We basically consider a program through its relationship with four main components. Within the scope of our strategic design approach, we suggested that these four components integrate with the program correctly, contribute to the program in different ways, and implement mechanisms that will enrich it.
We placed the program at the center of our approach and surrounded it with brands that enable interaction and connection, an audience development approach that turns audiences into active participants, a community of all people coming together around the program, and content in different formats and focus areas based on the scope.
Can we create a community based on the program?
Care was taken to design the program with qualified events held in different formats around sub-themes in line with the theme of the festival. In addition to formats that emphasize oral expression and qualified discussion, such as panels, chats and talks; formats that allow the use and collision of different senses, such as performative presentation, screening and walk, were also suggested for the program.
In order to experiment with strategic programming and see if this program could create a community, a program was designed that would create space for new perspectives and that would blend the topics that the festival wanted to deepen with a fresh approach and a non-conventional perspective.
We determined program themes that lie under the main curatorial approach and planned that all events to be organized fall within the scope of these themes. In the festival, which was held in 2022 with the theme of ‘Healing’, we created the sub-themes of ‘Being Good to Each Other’, ‘Establishing a Bond Between Choices and Goals’, ‘Seeking Healing in Oneself, Not in Others’ and ‘Taking Good Care of the World’ in the ‘Current Issues, New Possibilities’ section, and organized eight events in various formats such as panels, chats, speeches, film screenings and walks. In 2023, at the festival held with the theme of ‘Play’, we created the sub-themes ‘Play with Me’, ‘Play Together’ and ‘Advocate the Play’ in the ‘Current Issues, New Possibilities’ section and organized three events in performative presentation, chat and panel formats.
While determining the event participants, we took care to establish a balance between people with whom the festival stands side by side, contacts and cooperates in the areas it is included in and covers, and people who touch the advocacy areas and influence but have not yet come into contact with and who may have potential cooperation opportunities. In addition, we intended that the stories and experiences that the participants would tell, as well as the information and cases they would share, would benefit especially disadvantaged, marginalized and underrepresented individuals and communities.
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