Kintsugi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery by filling the breaks with a blend of laquer and gold. Silver and platinum can also be used. Beyond the gesture, which requires great mastery, this technique engages the imagination of the craftsman, his sense of life. Thanks to it, the history of the object acquires a new meaning, it becomes more unique, more precious. For this reason, Kinstugi is often used as a metaphor of resilience.
Last year, we should have met in Japan, between professionals, and in front of an audience of children. We would have reviewed our works, envisaged our strengths and our weaknesses, and we would have made plans to keep the Theatre for young audiences moving forward, as since 1965. And then came a global epidemic. Within one year, our lives, our views of the world are overturned. Beyond even the lives lost, no one can foretell what kind of scars will be left on children’s futures. No one can say how the arts will pull through.
It is necessary to recall here, that neither children nor artists confront the consequences of COVID on equal terms. Democracy, and public support to the essential needs of populations, including knowledge and the access to arts and a quality cultural life, are the most essential protective factors against this global trauma.
From my seat on the Executive committee, that inequality has always been obvious. Whatever the differences between the members of ASSITEJ, whatever the cultural, artistic, philosophic, national, etc, identities they refer to, at the end of the day, there are those who are fortunate enough to benefit from public support and those who are not.
Our strength is to do our utmost to overcome this crucial difference. For 55 years, ASSITEJ produces solidarity among its members, to the benefit of the children and the artists. Like the Kintsugi bowl, it relies on its flaws to produce value. Having no money, advocating for a minority (artists) addressing another minority (children and young people), makes us more independent, more free, more imaginative.
Holding, against all odds, our congress next month, is the expression of our power of resilience. Thanks to a collective engagement, beginning with that of our Japanese colleagues, we can gather, share, and make plans for more solidarity.
Join us at the congress and let’s make Kintsugi together!