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Festivals and Biennials in Times of COVID-19

Americas Society

May 28, 2020


Festival Cervantino (Image: Gabriel Morales / Archivo FIC 2019)

Festivals and biennials occupy an important space in the cultural life of their communities: their audience eagerly awaits these events to discover local, national, and international talents that they would not have access to the rest of the year. These cultural rendez-vous also have an economic impact for the city where they take place. Faced with the uncertainty caused by the global pandemic, festivals must reinvent themselves and implement strategies to survive the possible cancelation of live performances and exhibitions.

In this panel, four professionals from different countries share their experience and expertise: How can an event that has only a limited duration annually or bi-annually continue to engage its audience in the era of social distancing? What is the meaning of a festival that can only take place online? Can biennials and festivals reschedule what was programmed in 2020 to future years? How do they share the social and economic impact of the crisis on their surrounding community?

The discussion will be webcast on this page on the day of the event. No registration is required to watch.


Mariana Aymerich is a Mexican producer and arts administrator. She has collaborated with artists and companies in China, Costa Rica, Spain, and the United States. In Mexico, she has worked for festivals in Puebla, Guanajuato, Veracruz, San Luis Potosí, and Jalisco. She was director of special projects for the Programa Nacional de Animación Cultural. She is at the helm of the Festival International Cervantino, which takes place annually in October in Guanajuato working to maintain high-quality cultural offerings and serve as a diverse and inclusive meeting place that recognizes the artistic contributions of local communities and native peoples, as well as of international companies.

Born in Toronto, Naomi Campbell has over 30 years of programming, producing and executive-level experience on both a national and international level. She joined Luminato as company manager in 2011 and then went on to produce large-scale productions for the festival. In 2013 she was appointed Luminato's first ever director of artistic development, developing and commissioning new and existing works for the festival. She was appointed artistic director in 2017. Campbell also teaches producing at The National Theatre School and Generator and is a champion for accessibility and inclusivity within the performing arts. 

Andrea Giunta is a professor at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, where she got her PhD. Her research examines the power of images and their political uses, as she analyzes the internationalization processes of Argentine and Latin American art in the context of the Cold War. She is the author of several books and essays on Latin American and international postwar art. She was curator of a controversial exhibition on León Ferrari’s works (Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires, 2004), co-curator of Verboamérica, permanent collection of Latin American Art at MALBA (2016), and co-curator of Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985 at Hammer Museum, among many others. She was named curator of the Mercosur Biennial 12, 2020.

Mariana Pestana is a co-founder of The Decorators, an interdisciplinary practice that makes collaborative public realm interventions and cultural programs. Her personal interest lies in critical social practice and the role of fiction in re-imagining futures for an age marked by technological progress and an ecological crisis. She has worked as a curator at the Department of Architecture, Design, and Digital at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London and has curated multiple exhibitions on the history and future of design. She also curated Fiction Practice, the Young Curators Lab for the Porto Design Biennale 2019 and is the curator of the Fifth Istanbul Design Biennial.


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This panel is part of a series of conversations following the effect of Covid-19 on hemispheric culture.

Watch our previous panels:

Video: Festivals and Biennials in Times of COVID-19

May 28, 2020

Festival directors and curators from Guanajuato, Istanbul, Porto Alegre, and Toronto shared how they’re adapting 2020 programming and their visions for the near future....