International fair cooperation, sustainability goals and what all this has to do with equity.
The past year exposed the instability of artists globally, and as time went by, we observed that some countries created tools and disposed resources to help TYA artists who were forbidden or denied work for over a year. This was urgent and we can only be grateful for that. It is important though, not to lose from our sight the dramatic condition of artists in the Global South, and the emergency situation they are exposed to.
In a way, the distribution of vaccines mirrors the imbalance in the international arts sector – rich countries use their resources to attend to their population first, although often a higher pandemic toll is paid on the other side of the planet. Who will be vaccinated depends on the wealth of the country we live in. Global immunisation figures have been mirroring a great inequality for months now, and the situation remains unchanged.
But the pandemic will only be over, when it is over everywhere in the world.
We have discussed for some time now the paradox of institutional support for travel (mobility funds). On one hand, it is a fantastic tool for artists to effectively build an international career, and most festivals would not be able to present an international program without financial aid for travel. On the other hand, we must recognise that we will never achieve the diversity we promise to work for, if we do not share these same mobility funds so they are accessible to all.
While we are looking for the new normal, trying to reshape the future after this collective trauma, it is important to talk honestly and be open to new ideas. Currently, initiatives towards greater international solidarity are surging. Some examples give me great hope. For instance, the RESHAPE NETWORK – a collaborative, bottom-up research process that proposes instruments for transition towards an alternative, fairer, and unified arts ecosystem across Europe and the Southern Mediterranean. One of the ideas is the proposal of a Solidarity Tax by Doreen Toutikian, a provocative idea on power dynamics in cultural projects, creative control, diversity, and eligibility.
The Festival THEATER DE WELT, brings to life an EQUITY FORUM FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATIONS. International guests from the Global South will join to discuss Equity, Sustainability and Fair Cooperation. Among other questions; how can artistic, human and financial resources be further shared, especially in pandemic times?
Within Europe there is also PERFORM EUROPE, an EU-funded project which aims to rethink cross-border performing arts presentation in a more inclusive, sustainable and balanced way. This is a reaction to an imbalance of representation among the Creative Europe funded touring model.
If we can recognize our economic privilege, the next step will be a natural one. The consideration of ethics will take us to a future of solidarity, sharing resources, paving the way, making plans with optimism for fairer international collaborations.
It is nothing short of a revolution, and we can only profit from that.
Hürth, June 2021