I am writing from a wealthy country, which values culture as one of the important assets of a society, and where most children can access to the statute of a person of rights. It allowed, over the years, the progressive development of a vibrant scene in many sectors of creation addressed to children and adolescents, including, prominently, performing arts, undertaken by trained, professional, artists, benefiting of a high level of freedom of expression.
But, through the meetings my participation in ASSITEJ offered me to take part with international professionals, I learned how much the context may differ in many countries, either regarding the statute of children or the effective possibility to let artists create. Looking back to the three years since the congress in Warsaw, from these particular points of view, the emergency of protecting the young ones from crisis and violence strikes me in the face. Still, the work of all the people who, everywhere, contribute to save and enforce their access to arts, imagination, and symbolic thinking, continues. They find new ways, new connections, new faces show up.
Have you seen the Next Generation panel for Cape Town ? This is what ASSITEJ does: maintaining a unique forum, which manages to give a voice to everyone who seeks to make the encounter happen between children and performing arts. Allowing every participant to the gatherings it impulses or takes part in, to hear about the findings, fears, hopes, and, more than often, to share the happiness of other professionals through their own words. It doesn’t judge, or try impose some artistic standards, but it employs a wealth of inventiveness, and, not least, of professional thoroughness, to build this framework, for the benefit of TYA worldwide.
Given the tiny financial means at the disposal of ASSITEJ, this work is a story of commitment and risks. Not only from the officials, but from the multitude who, at their own level, empower the national centers and the networks, contribute by inviting other members in their own country, or by funding the Friends of ASSITEJ, offer to lead workshops, or, simply, step up and share the realities they live in with the international community.
The holding of the Congress and World festival in South Africa, in a few weeks, is particularly significant in that sense. After 52 years, it will be the first time that such an event happens, not only in Africa, but, even, in the south of equator: a major step in the history of ASSITEJ, which proves the ability of our organization to put itself into question and to evolve.
In the economical context many countries, including South Africa, have to face, it is, also, a big challenge.
Registrations to the Cradle of creativity are now open http://www.assitej2017.org.za/. Coming to Cape Town is not only an occasion to meet people from around the world of TYA, and to enjoy a lot of unseen productions. It is a strong act of solidarity, and the recognition of the value of the commitment of each of the members of the community.