Seven questions and answers related to the Artists' Initiative:
1. Why starting this Initiative?
EU politicians failed to realize integration of Europe's largest minority: in Europe are approximately 12 up to 15 million Roma, out of whom 10 million live in EU member states. Most are facing a situation of apartheid. They have no access to healthcare, proper housing and employment. Their children are considered to be mentally disabled and sent to special schools; and all Roma suffer from discrimination by mainstream society and right-wing extremists. Also outside Europe Roma are not integrated and hardly or not at all represented in political circles. It is hard to see no parallels with the thirties of the 20th century. Again Roma and also Jews, homosexuals and immigrants are targeted by far-right, and again policymakers tend to meet their wishes. Again there are pogroms, arson attacks and killings, but strange enough the focus is not on the aggressors but on the adaptability of their victims. It is like the raped woman who is supposed to have asked for trouble. This is the scapegoat mechanism; it changes victims into perpetrators.
2. Artists take over political responsibilities?
Artists have their own responsibilities and freedom of movement, like everyone else in society. The crisis puts pressure on nowadays politicians who invest in traditional voters in order to stay in power. This attitude results in "business as usual", whereas new strategies and approaches are badly needed.
3. It is up to artists to invent them?
That sounds presumptuous. Still, artists cannot be denied certain useful skills. They are often more alert, foresee bad scenarios and their mind is more receptive to alternatives. Thus they inspire contemporaries.
4. Isn't that a romantic idea of artists?
There is no romanticism in striving for the better. In the Artists' Initiative the youngest are in their twenties, the eldest are over seventy. We are no children; we know that life can be biased and hard. Among the Roma artists many lost family-members in the Holocaust or Porajmos, when some 500.000 Roma were killed in concentration camps. These facts are a reason to join the Initiative rather than to step back!
5. Art facilitates changes?
It is an effective way to reach people's hearts. It can expose stereotypes and prejudice and open people's mind to new arguments and approaches. Take for instance "Cry Freedom", the film about the Apartheid in South-Africa. One good film is often more effective than hundred political speeches.
6. How contacts will be made?
We mainly focus on schools and universities, that have their own networks, exchange programs and funds. Among the many artists in the Initiative, there are also famous scholars who add their knowledge about history, culture and language. The combination of art and education is very important. Prejudice is not seldom based on a lack of knowledge. And on cold feet, just like social stagnation.
7. In what way schools or media will contact the artists?
They should visit our website and discuss the options: CDs, DVDs, live concerts and performances. Also combinations: music and lectures, theatre and debates, photos and storytelling. They might start by visiting the list of artists who offer links to concerts and films, photos and prose. The situation is alarming, but the way we tackle it is attractive. Art is a joy in life!
Yours Initiative write to: Artists_Initiative@ziggo.nl