Events – 6 Questions to Jean-François ZURAWIK | Lyon

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“[vc_row type=”” in_container=”” scene_position=”” center=”” text_color=”” dark=”” text_align=”” left=”” overlay_strength=””][vc_column column_padding=”” no-extra-padding=”” column_padding_position=”” all=”” background_color_opacity=”” background_hover_color_opacity=”” width=””][vc_column_text]For the events sector and in the face of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, the time has come to adapt and reinvent models. Our MSc 2 Events & Public Relations program enables students to master all types of events and related issues through contact with professionals in the sector.
Among the students will have the privilege of meeting Jean-François ZURAWIK, who left his position as Artistic Director of the Fête des Lumières this year, a position he had held since 2005. 

  • How can the Festival of Lights continue to evolve in order to seduce regulars to come back the following year?

Since 1999, the event takes place over a period of four days, during which nearly 2 million people will stroll through the city.

It is important to note that 70% of its visitors come from Lyon and its region. The locals are certainly attached to this festival. These regulars take pleasure each year, to make discover this heritage, to their family and close relations.

In order not to disappoint them, the program of the festival of lights does not contain any repetition.   In addition, 85% of the projects presented to the public are original creations. If they are not, the work has necessarily  been adapted. Finally, for a few years, the territory of the festivities has been somewhat reduced, but the animations are always more qualitative and the technical means deployed more innovative.

  • How do you choose the countries to which you export FDL ? Does it compete with the FDL of Lyon ?

There are indeed models of the Festival of Lights in other cities with which we collaborate. But the idea is not to export the DNA of the Lyon Festival of Lights, but rather to advise on the modes of creation and to highlight our know-how in terms of lighting.

For example, I have had missions as artistic director for the “Fiesta de la Luz” in Quito, an event that brings together more than 2.5 million visitors over 5 days, in order to accompany them for the development of the event.

We are also working with Lyon’s partner cities (Leipzig, Birmingham, etc.) with a view to increasing Lyon’s influence throughout the world and raising the profile of the Festival of Lights.

  • Between innovation and tradition, how not to lose the origin of the FDL while the event is more and more important ?

First of all, we must take into account that the Festival of Lights does not put forward anything commercial and promotional, which is rare in our time. There are of course partners of the event, who are patrons. Their logo remains very discreet and no products can be displayed. No partner may therefore use the Festival of Lights for profit.

The sales in the streets would deserve to be a little more regulated, but also participate in the folklore of the event.

Finally, there is no theme imposed on the artists during the Festival of Lights. We offer them places where they can express their creativity.

That’s why we find, in each edition, different animations, from fire explosion, to interactive participation and live show.

  • Compared to the organization of other events, what is different in the implementation of the FDL ?

It seems obvious that the complexity of this event arises from its surface and its attendance. There are always more constraints related to public space, especially since the attacks of 2015. The only comparable events in France are the 14th of July and the Braderie de Lille.  If we think less in terms of  logistics, the organization of the Festival of Lights takes on a special dimension because it must change the entire atmosphere of the city center.
This means coloring and reducing public lighting, removing lights from shop windows or other advertisements, banning cars and parking lots…

The center of Lyon becomes a real walk and the spectators can discover differently public spaces.

  • What motivates you to accompany the students of the Events and Public Relations program?

First of all, it is an exercise that I have not done much until now, in my first professional life. There is a fundamental notion of transmission. I think it is interesting to exchange with students and to bring my technical skills in event management. It is a job of passion, so I want to share it. The program is also well constructed.

  • Do you have any advice for students who want to work in the event industry ? In particular for the search for internships or work experience?

Following the health crisis, we can obviously expect a difficult situation for our field. We don’t have enough information yet to know how this sector will react.

There will probably be a lasting transformation of the events: for example smaller events but with longer durations.

However, it is the responsibility of event companies (corporate, sports, cultural…) to prepare for the aftermath and the end of the crisis. It is therefore in their interest to continue to integrate students on internships or work-study contracts.

These young people are often very involved and bring a new breath and innovative ideas.

  • Now that you are leaving your position at the helm of the FDL, what are your future projects ?

I will continue to work as a freelancer for the City of Lyon, especially for international projects.
I also created a micro-business as a consultant in event communication for projects in public space.
During the lockdown, I had the pleasure of setting up mobile projections visible to residents from their windows and balconies, without official permission.
The interest was to thank the people who worked during the health crisis.

Review here:

Jean-François ZURAWIK | ? François NUSSBAUMER



Updated 24 February 2022