Rafael Dernbach


Festival futures: Prototyping a foresight mentoring programme for more sustainable, inclusive & resilient festivals

Rafael Dernbach is interested in improbable encounters of people and ideas in a world that is more and more formatted. His research and curatorial projects depart from media studies and future studies and examining emerging media environments. Most recently, he has curated a 24h long conversation on the future of attention at the Locarno Film Festival. He was a post-doctoral researcher Universita della Svizzera italiana, a research associate at Futurium. He completed his PhD at University of Cambridge.


How can foresight mentoring help festival professionals to make festivals more sustainable, inclusive and resilient? Today, festivals are major sites for creative co-production. They form an increasingly important part of the creative industries. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the sector, disrupting existing business models, but also leading to innovation. Indeed, many festivals are confronted with a multi-layered imperative to innovate, while maintaining their operations: digitalization, the need to reduce carbon emissions in the face of the climate crisis and skilled labour shortage require new strategies. The proposed research project aims to develop a prototype for a foresight mentoring programme for festivals. Via a structured mentoring process, festival professionals and their stakeholders will be supported in anticipating and preparing for potential disruptions and navigating transformations.