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20 November 2023 in Belgrade

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child last considered the draft articles relating to the rights to art, play, culture, and leisure in 2013 – exactly 10 years ago.  In light of this, the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2023 (Serbia) will be officially opened on World Children’s Day. On 20th November 2023, Turning Point will commence with an all-day international professional and scientific conference, ‘Children and Youth Rights to Culture: 10 Years Later.’

Proudly hosted on the stage of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts at the University of Arts in Belgrade, one of ASSITEJ Serbia’s key partners, the central part of the conference programme will take place from 09:30 to 18:00 CET, with further programming and schedule details to be announced soon.

The conference will open with a dialogue on the legal and political foundations of the rights of children and young people to culture. Domestic and foreign experts from both international and domestic organizations for children’s rights, as well as leading practitioners from notable universities, will participate in this conversation, moderated by Professor Emerita Milena Dragićević Šešić, Ph.D.

The plenary lecture will be delivered by Dr Irena Ristić, Psychologist, Theatre Director, and Professor at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts. In addition to these achievements, Dr Ristić is also co-founder of the artistic group Hop.La! She will offer new perspectives on theatre, the social imaginary, regimes of inequality and possibilities for political change in this sphere.

Following this lecture, the morning will progress with a variety of discussions and presentations. Maša Avramović, co-founder of the Centre for Childrens Rights C31 and doctoral candidate in Pedagogy at Sweden’s Soderthorns University, will present on the position of the child as a participant, with a fascinating interrogation of what participation truly entails in this context. Dr Goran Tomka, Cultural Expert and Professor in the UNESCO Chair for Cultural Policy and Management at the University of the Arts, and Lanora Callahan from the University of Roehampton, Great Britain, will engage participants in the matter of cultural needs, participation, the audience, and the right to culture. Swedish experts from universities, artistic collectives and children’s rights organizations will lead a dialogue on cooperation between theatre and research institutions, as well as on programmes within the field of children’s rights.

After a packed and informative morning, the afternoon sessions will include a round table on the position of performing arts for children and young people in the region of Southeast Europe. This will include the place of the performing arts in curricula and lesson plans, with input from professors of drama and theatre academies throughout Europe. In this segment, Serbia’s regional platform of young professionals, From the First Step, will play a special role.

The conference will continue with various examples of good practice for participation in cultural life by children and the youth. Fellow artists, pedagogues and researchers from around the world will close the day by discussing advocacy for, and implementation of, children and youth’s rights to culture, art, play and free time.

Within the programme of this conference, attendees will be invited to watch I am Akiko – a play for audiences aged seven and older. Directed by Milja Mazarak, and created in partnership by the Pančevo Cultural Centre, the Biennial of Childrens Artistic Expression and the Festival of Ecological Theatre for Children and Youth in Bačka Palanka, this performance was a double winner at the fourth ASSITEJ Serbia Festival in 2022. We are honoured to have the team back with us, and to be able to present it to you at the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2023.

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