After the Congress Closing Ceremony I went to a wedding that took place where two waters meet – the river flowing into the sea the sea flowing back into the river. This particular spot is dangerous; shallow and turbulent and with a deceptively strong current, and people have drowned here. But the mingling of the waters at this point also creates the most nutrient rich water – full of stirrings and undercurrents that bring the goodness of both waters together.
It’s this combination of danger and richness that makes the place so powerful – for thousands of years this is where people have lived, played and loved, fished, hunted, gathered and eaten, met to sing and dance and create and tell stories. A place of flux and inconstancy, and a place of energy.
We just experienced a Congress in a shape we never expected to experience. It was a new stream of energy that tried to flow with the traditional form of gatherings, and with the mingling, opened up a richness and risk that fuelled exchange and discovery. We are experiencing a flood of challenge, greater awareness of gaps and fissures, and more questions. This is a time of flux and change – the waters are very turbulent and can feel dangerous. Our sense of who we are and what we are for, is shaken and stirred. We have a stronger sense of what is at stake. If we can also accept that these times are full of richness and stimulation, that we are being fed as well as being tossed around, we can harness some of the energy of that and create space and shape for new ways of doing and being.
We have a new EC, we have said farewell to a most beloved President, we are living and working in a really different time for action and connection, and we are facing a challenge in how we work and meet going forward, across many time zones and knowing so much more about each of our contexts. There are big things are happening in the world: artists are struggling in ways we have never seen before, to survive, to create, to be recognised and valued. There is an urgent need for equity, parity and access. Our job in this next term is to take on what we have talked about in Congress, what we have witnessed and discussed, and what we have shared, to lean into action that makes the right sort of difference.
The turbulent time we had of bringing a hybrid Festival and Congress to life – the mingling of new streams and old, sweet water and salty – has meant we are more ready to accept change and build together and to engage with ASSITEJ when it has never mattered more.