FRESH 2019

FRESH conference 2019 is coming up. Organizer Maarten Vanneste is here, to convince you to come over to Belgium, from October 13th till the 15th.
Kevin Van der Straeten
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FRESH conference 2019 is coming up. Organizer Maarten Vanneste is here, to convince you to come over to Belgium, from October 13th till the 15th.


Hi Maarten, welcome to our studio.


Hi Kevin, good to be here.


You're the organizer of the FRESH conference. But maybe a lot of our visitors don't know FRESH. Can you explain: what's FRESH about?


FRESH is a conference about conferences and we focus on meeting design. So: how the session runs. How the participants learn. How they network. To make the meeting or the event more effective, more efficient.


In the last years, you organized the event in Copenhagen, Barcelona: big names. Also, in different hubs, around the world. And this year you're choosing Turnhout. A lot of you won't know Turnhout, but Turnhout is a smaller city. In Belgium. Why are you choosing a small city?


Well, with FRESH we always are looking for a challenge and are looking for experiments and new things to try. And one of those things is: going to a big city or going to a small, unknown city. So, that's a big experiment.

I think it's quite important and interesting for conference organizers, to understand what it takes to do a conference in a small town. What are the benefits? What are the challenges?

And so, we are learning from this experiment.


And also, what we think is possible, is to grow in a small city. Just like many festivals have done in the past. Or many conferences have done in the past. It doesn't need to be a big city.

So maybe this is one of the benefits of coming to FRESH: to discover how it is to do a conference in a small town.


Because we don't have a big conference centre. But actually, we look at the city centre as the conference centre. So, we go from the Town Hall, to the cultural centre, to the museum, to an old factory hall, to an old theatre. So, there's all these different spaces that we will discover. And that we will bring together as a conference centre. So, people will be walking from one venue to the next.


FRESH always has a theme. What is this year's theme?


The theme this year is festivalization. So, it sounds like a fun theme. And it is, I think, a fun theme. I think it's part of the segment of art in our toolbox. As meeting designers.

So, art is festivals. Festivals are about art. Usually it's either dance or music or poetry. Or other cultural themes.

And so, I think we can learn a lot from festivals. When organizing a conference or a meeting.

How can we use those components from festivals and apply them in a conference? Without overdoing it, but making a conference more attractive, more productive, more educational or better for networking.


Are there already some keynote speakers you can announce today?


Yes, we have a few speakers listed on our website already, that are quite exciting to have.

And so, they're coming over from, for example, Scotland. We have Paul Gudgin, who has been the director of the Fringe festival, which is the world's biggest art festival. And so, he has an amazing presentation on big and small places, where they do big and small festivals. So, we can learn a lot from him. And he's going to do several presentations. Also, he does training in this field. So, that's going to be quite interesting.

Then, another speaker is George Parker. He's an amazing speaker, who is actually the ultimate keynote speaker for FRESH. Because we have...

He talks about innovation and change. But also, he talks about conferences and how people network. And that is crucially important, I think, at conferences and meetings today. And also, he uses a form of art, which is magic, in his presentation.

So, he's actually...


He's bringing it all together.


He brings it all together. Because, you know: art is a big component, of course, in this year's festival.


You already mentioned that people will visit different locations, different venues. During the conference.

Is there also a program, besides the keynote speakers?


Yes, so we have different rooms and different places, where we will have presentations. Sometimes it's going to be plenary, sometimes it's going to be parallel sessions in different venues.

So, people will go to, for example, the roof level of a museum. Or they will go into a music studio, for a breakout session. Or maybe a library in the beguinage in Turnhout.

And then, other times, we will be in the city hall, or in the cultural centre, for plenary sessions.

And we will always go back to the same hall, which is our conference art showcase hall. Where we have artists and coffee breaks. We have our lunches there.

And this is our festival. It's the first year that we organize this festival. Where we bring together all sorts of artists. To showcase and to connect to the meeting industry.


Okay, if people are interested in coming over to Turnhout, for FRESH. Where can they find more information, buy tickets?


You can go to the website, which is:


We'll put the link below the video.


And that's where you can find the tickets, for either the artist showcase, or the entire conference, including the artist showcase.


Maarten, thank you very much, I'm looking forward to FRESH.


Me too.


And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.