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The craziest year of my life ends, this year of the pandemic which infected the social and cultural life everywhere. Children were much too often forgotten or seen as “learning machines”. The rights of children to participate in cultural life of a society was cut down. Artists were also forgotten and cannot do their work. The life of ASSITEJ suddenly changed. Instead of an unforgettable World Congress which should have happened in May 2020 in Tokyo – we emigrated into the Digital World. We created some remarkable Coffee Sessions in order to stay in contact with you.

We worked on and launched the ASSITEJ Manifesto, which is a milestone for the organisation. It can be used and adapted for every city, every region, every country: The fight for budgets and the meaning of arts and culture AFTER the pandemic have already started and will be massive in the near future… So we need good words and ideas why theatre for young audiences is „relevant“ for the system. In the Manifesto, there are a lot of strong arguments. Let’s go and fight for the arts and the children with words and actions for the arts and the children!

In the previous coffee session that was held on November 25, we asked ourselves about our well-being: stress management and empowerment – and it was an unforgettable moment of sharing: we did a digital yoga session, talked about a “Social Media Detox”, about humour and other methods to stay alive in the crisis. Birte Werner and Julia Dina Hesse from ASSITEJ Germany introduced a game called “The circle of influence” which was very encouraging for many participants!
And we will go on!

We invite you to participate in the next coffee sessions on 21st January 21 and 1st March 21. Please note these dates in your calendar. We will invite experts to discuss equity / equality as a global challenge. And we will hear the voices of children: How do they feel in these times? How do they cope with the crisis, with their fears? How do they see the adults’ behaviour in this crisis? What are their wishes and hopes?

The pandemic takes a lot of energy. But still we are working on the future. ASSITEJ was part of the first ever “European Theater Forum 2020” in November, together with all the other important theatre organisations like ITI or IETM. We worked on accessibility, diversity, inclusivity and sustainability and had relevant discussion panels on these issues. This culminated in “The Dresden Declaration” which is another substantial document for political arguments within and beyond Europe. As a result of this engagement, we are now starting to work on a collaboration project together with ITI (International Theater Institute) about sustainability.

There will be a time after Covid-19. And we have to be prepared for the real challenges. We have learned a lot in 2020 – so let us look forward to a year full of hope. And hopefully with a meeting in Tokyo in March 2021!

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