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This great artistic community of ours was created in a time of a clearly polarised world, divided simply into East and West. That division, viewed from a central point located in Europe and based on the values of the European heritage, awakened those idealistic aspirations that artists are always more prone to than others, namely the thawing of relations, the reduction of tensions, all in the name of new generations, their future and well-being, ultimately in the name of the well-being of the world.

The world is no longer so simply divided, and the central place is no longer just one, it is moving around as needed. However, what remains forever are the new generations of children who do not know the previous world. Their world is here and now. Unless we offer them valuable and enriching experiences, inspire them to be compassionate and humane, encourage their imagination and curiosity, and cultivate them as bearers of universal values, we will not need a threat from “thinking” machines and artificial intelligence. As human beings we will turn into a grey mass that someone else manages and decides for. That is why these days when we will come together as a community to nurture individuality, thinking people and humane values through art, friendship and commitment, are truly precious.

When I attended my first ASSITEJ World Congress in Montreal in 2005, a whole world opened up before me. I realised that everything I did with young people in a closed space, isolated from the rest of the world during the nineties, in times that were restless and extremely uncertain for the young generation, following my artistic instinct, was done simultaneously by my wonderful fellow artists all over the world. It was a real turning point for me in understanding the power of art.

We often work in equally uncertain and fraught times still today, and that seemingly fragile, but actually so powerful, art is our main tool in the modern moment in which insecurity, fear and manipulation are very often the initial environment for the young generations. We must enable their voice to be heard and for them to be visible as hope, as light, as the essence for the survival of civilization.

It is my great joy that the dream of hosting all of you from the world and encouraging everyone in our country and the region to not give up from this work called culture for children and young people, so fragile and so powerful at the same time, finally realises.

Diana Kržanić Tepavac,
President of the Executive Board National Association of Theatres for Children and Youth ASSITEJ Serbia

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