The Czech Supreme Court decided in the last instance about two controversial performances from the Brno National Theatre and the Centre for Experimental Theatre. Prague’s Cardinal Dominik Duka had demanded an apology from both theatres for two productions from 2018 by Croatian director Oliver Frljić, “Condemnation” and “Our Violence and Your Violence”. Duka felt his personal rights violated since the plays had dealt with child abuse by priests and the relationship of Western society to Islamic society. The Court dismissed Duka’s appeal and decided that the plays had not been discriminatory against Christians, nor had they interfered with the right to freedom of belief.
The Action Committee for Artists Rights (ACAR) of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) follows with shock and grief the escalating mutual atrocities between Israel and the Hamas Organization in the Gaza Strip. We are mostly worried by the horrendous acts of lynching, vandalism, destruction and arson performed by extremist nationalist Jewish and Arab groups within the ethnically mixed towns throughout Israel. We call upon artists from both parties, as well as colleagues worldwide, to strongly condemn these actions fueled by blind racist and religious hatred that not only undermine the fragile co-existence between Jews and Arabs in the country, in general, and the cooperation in the field of Performative Arts in particular, but present a threat to Peace and tolerance in the entire area.
On April 1st members of ACAR had the chance to talk online with artists from Thailand and Myanmar about the alarming situation for the arts and the freedom of expression in both countries. The situation in Myanmar under military dictatorship, with disappearance of artists and the dissolution of public cultural live goes along with rising of protests in Thailand and massive attacks against artists, namely theatre artists with rising number of victims – arrested or killed. Thai theatre artists have started a call for solidarity with theatre artists in Myanmar, passed to the Myanmar embassy.
ACAR will follow the situation and has offered support via the ITI network and other connected initiatives.
Yvette Hardie, outgoing president of ASSITEJ and Director of ASSITEJ South Africa has addressed a letter to the international theatre community and the ITI. She describes that in South Africa with the COVID19 pandemic “Artists and creative practitioners are suffering after more than a year without proper support from the national Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, and with severe mismanagement of the relief “. Several contracts for beneficiaries for a grant, set up finally in November last year, have been cut without justification, delayed or have not been paid until now. Sibongile Mngoma a world-renowned opera singer, is leading a group of representatives of enraged South African artists and creative practitioners who have occupied National Arts Council offices in Johannesburg on 3 March 2021 and have remained there for over a month, calling for transparency and accountability. The occupiers received a wave of solidarity from the whole creative sector and are now in urgent danger to be physically attacked and removed from the place.
ITI Director General Tobias Biancone has published a Call for an Enabling Environment for the Arts & Culture Sector in South Africa, addressed to the Government of South Africa, the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and The National Arts Council: “The International Theatre Institute ITI is deeply concerned about the current situation in South Africa. It firmly stands in solidarity with South African Artists and creative practitioners who are demanding accountability and transparency regarding relief funding for the arts…South Africa is extremely rich in cultural diversity. Cultural practitioners and artists from all over the world highly esteem the creative output of your country. Covid-19 and its aftermath in the culture sector should not destroy what has been built up for many decades.”
Please, post your support statement and use these hashtags: #Im4theArts #ArtistsLivesMatter #CreativeSurvivorSA, and for Twitter: @nacsouthafrica, @SportsArtsCultur @PresidencyZA .
Reports: Independent Online (IOL) South Africa
The newly formed FREESZFE association announces that European universities will form partnerships to save the degrees of about 150 SZFE students. The Theater and Film University in Budapest (SZFE) has been occupied by its student last year to protest against the loss of independence and academic freedom (see ACAR post). The diploma rescue program “Emergency Exit ” will be supported by the University Mozarteum Vienna, the University of Performing Arts in Ludwigsburg (Akademie für Darstellende Kunst in Baden-Württemberg) the puppetry department of the Akademia Teatralna im. Aleksandra Zelwerowicza) at Bialystok and the Swiss Academy of Drama (Accademia Teatro Dimitri). They agreed to take over fourteen SZFE classes and will recognize the credits they have earned so far. As the epidemiological situation worsened, the association switched to a digital work schedule: courses are held online, projects are developed without physical contact.
The long-term plan is to acquire a building with the help of donations and a foundation and to establish a private democratically run university with an international profile.
The Victoria & Albert Museum in London have decided to close the department of Theatre and Performance as part of a massive organisational remodelling of the structure of the museum. The department is one of the largest and most important resources for theatre and performance heritage worldwide. ITI’s partner organisation SIBMAS, the International Association of Libraries, Museums, Archives and Documentation Centres of the Performing Arts has startet a petition to stop the decision until the end of March, when the internal consultation ends.
“At a time, when the Performing Arts have been so badly damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, this national collection should be given more support to protect the past and record the present in order to inform future generations. This is a serious threat to the history of the British live performing arts. The collection is a vital educational and research resource on an international level.” says Alan Jones, SIBMAS President.