SMA – Small Festivals Accelerator

Welcome to SMA! – an accelerator for small music festivals
in peripheral areas of the continent –
co-funded by Creative Europe

The three year programme sees the Cultural Association Glenn Gould  involved in a project that features other professionals
from Estonia, Germany, Spain, Macedonia, and Italy

Almost a year after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world of live music entertainment is still on hold. In this situation of uncertainty, with the 2021 edition of major events in great doubt, the watchwords for smaller festivals are cooperation and planning of common actions capable of bringing them unscathed out of this precarious period. It is within this framework that the SMA! project is launching its operational phase.

The SMA! project is an accelerator supporting small boutique festivals and is co-financed by Creative Europe, the European Commission’s framework programme for supporting the culture and audiovisual sectors. The objective for the coming years is to define a sustainable cross-border development model. Through strategies of diversification and the improvement of both management and relationships with stakeholders, a greater competitiveness and attractiveness shall be achieved within the international circuits of the organisation of musical and cultural events. The project shall also foster the creation of sustainable infrastructures in the field of creative economies in peripheral areas of the continent, supporting the economic and social growth of local and regional communities.

The SMA! project has as its leading body the Cultural Association Glenn Gould of Castelbuono, Sicily, which since 1997 has organised Ypsigrock Festival, and will also involve similar players of cultural and music management entities in the development of its business model, such as Raum 3 (Germany), which produces the Haldern Pop and Kaltern Pop festivals, and Password Production (Macedonia), organiser, among others, of D Festival, Taksirat Festival and PIN Music Conference. Further European players actively participating in the project are Music Estonia (Estonia), Melting Pro (Italy), and Turismo Vivencial (Spain).


SMA! formally launched in December 2020 with a kick-off meeting, held digitally due to Covid-19, among representatives of the team’s partners. The project is taking shape at the beginning of the new year with the public introduction of its main objectives.

Now, the official SMA! logo is also being presented, marking the starting point of the European accelerator’s branding project. It is precisely the propulsive identity typical of the accelerator at the base of the logo concept, summarised in a pictogram with an essential design, which visually recalls the symbol of the fast-forward button of media players, which allows the rapid forwarding of tracks. The aim is to express from the very first impact the impulse of this collaborative initiative and the values ??on which it is centred: solidity, institutionality, reliability and innovation, with an eye to good practices for the future.

The idea behind the project derived from an observation: musical events, such as boutique festivals, have allowed peripheral areas to be discovered by the world of enthusiasts and professionals thanks to the work of other, usually local, professionals, backed by their communities and volunteers. In the long term, however, all this is not enough to create competitiveness on international circuits, due to some objective conditions. These include infrastructural deficiencies and the lack of funding necessary to further develop the professional skills that would allow these festivals to be placed on the same level of consideration as those organised by the large multinationals in the sector.

“The SMA! project,” says Vincenzo Barreca, executive manager of the accelerator,  “contributes to concretising the objectives of the new European Agenda for Culture, because it promotes its social and economic dimension. The SMA! project, in fact, through the objectives that we aim to achieve over the next three years, will showcase all of culture’s power for social cohesion by promoting the circulation of ideas. That will allow the territories involved  to develop new actions for their growth through innovation and solutions with a strong impact, thanks to this festival accelerator ”.

SMA! therefore has the ambitious aim of outlining and implementing a business model that can define solutions to the partners’ common problems and become an example to follow for other events that face the same or similar structural issues. The project objectives will favour the circulation of ideas and the growth of greater professionalism, including volunteer training, for the realisation of small and independent festivals that have great potential for the social and economic development of the so-called peripheral areas.

In the next three years, through the realisation of its various project outputs, SMA! will establish, among other things, the implementation of a development strategy to improve and enhance the identity and highly professional training of the staff who work on the coordination and brand identity of each individual festival. Moreover, the mobility of organisers and sub-coordinators will be encouraged in order to learn how other festivals deal with common problems. The transnational cooperation with other events and in other peripheral territories shall promote this business model.

Furthermore, with other objectives included in the project, the aim will also be to define sustainable development of the areas concerned by responding to the needs of current and future generations. SMA! also aims at improving the economy of individual events through the establishment of other activities that will increase cultural tourism in these areas and diversify branches of business. Particular attention will also be paid to the eco-sustainability of individual events, through the development of solutions with low environmental impact, and to accessibility and inclusion, through the creation of local and international networks to reduce this gap from every point of view.

The SMA! partners are:

Associazione Culturale Glenn Gould has been active for over twenty years in Castelbuono, Sicily, with the aim of promoting public cultural initiatives, mainly musical, with a strong international connotation, amongst others Ypsigrock Festival. The association supports specific policies and projects for territorial infrastructural enhancement as well as accessibility and social inclusion.
more info

Password Production has over 20 years of experience in music entertainment, event management, and booking. As a concert promoter, Password has hosted more than 1000 international acts. Password Production has its own artist roster consisting of more than 30 local, regional, and international touring acts, for which Password works as booker, manager, and tour manager. Password Production has organised the largest festivals in North Macedonia, like Taksirat, D Festival, Green Beach, and PIN Music Conference.
more info

Raum 3 promotes two festivals: Haldern Pop, which has been held since 1984 in Rees, Rhineland (Germany), and Kaltern Pop, which takes place in Caldaro, South Tyrol (Italy), and also runs a label and booking agency.
more info

Music Estonia is a music industry development centre and export office in Estonia, aiming at developing the Estonian music industry into a profitable and innovative sector that exports its services, products, and trademarks worldwide. In addition, Music Estonia is the conference partner of Tallinn Music Week and also develops cross-sector collaborations, organising seminars and workshops and participating in international projects and organisations.
more info 

MeltingPro is a dynamic cultural enterprise, which sees the potential to transform society through art and creativity. Born in 2011 in Rome, MeP has been developing through national and European experiences that lead to new ways of promoting cultural participation and adopting creative approaches.
more info

Turismo Vivencial is a travel and hospitality agency (DMC) based in Spain and operating in all Europe, specialised in creating unique experiences through thematic itineraries that allow tourists to experience a total immersion in the culture, traditions, and cuisine, becoming the main characters of their journey, along with the local community.
more info


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