The text was originally published as an introduction letter by the IDEA President Sanja Krsmanović Tasić in the IDEA Quarterly Newsletter May 2023.
Dear readers, dear colleagues, dear members and friends of IDEA,
Since our December Newsletter two major live events have taken place in two different parts of the world, both in March. One was the World Summit on Arts Education in Funchal, Madeira, at the very beginning of the month, and the second one was the International Conference on Performing Arts, which hosted our blended General Council Meeting, in Kampala, Uganda, at the end of the month.
WAAE Summit in Madeira, Portugal 1-3 March 2023
As you all know, IDEA has been involved in the preparation of the Madeira Summit, as part of the World Alliance for Arts Education, and its success can be measured also by the committed involvement of UNESCO and its representatives, which led us through the process of how the new document, the 2023 Framework on Culture and Arts Education, will be created through various consultations and recommendations from different stakeholders as well as the voices from members of our four associations, InSEA, ISME, WDA andIDEA. A survey was distributed to you through the IDEA mailing list, and I hope you have taken the time to fill it in, for each voice and opinion is important in this process. An IDEA UNESCO Framework Working Group is also right now in the process of shaping the recommendations of our association for this document, based on the work initiated by the focus group that was present at the Madeira Summit.
WAAE Executive Forum in Madeira, Portugal
The Conference in Uganda was an IDEA-endorsed event, and developed in partnership with the main host, the Makerere University from Kampala, as well as the Rostock University for Theatre and Music from Rostock, Germany and IDEA. The whole program was rich in content, with participants from different international and African universities and drama/theatre education communities participating. Mercy Mirembe Ntangaare and her team made us feel welcome and enveloped in a most interesting and enriching program, interlaced with beautiful art sequences of dance, music, poetry and singing performed by the students of the Performing Arts department of Makerere University, that celebrates its 50 years anniversary this year.
We have met and spoken to dear colleagues that were present at the Kisumu Congress in 1998, as well as new generations of practitioners and scholars from Uganda and all over Africa. It is our joint feeling that IDEA has come home again to Africa and that many new members will join our association after this most important and successful event.
Participants of the International Conference on Performing Arts in Kampala, Uganda; 27 March - 1 April 2023
The blended General Council Meeting, led by IDEA General Meeting Committee Vice President Ása Ragnarsdóttir and GMC Secretary Patrick Ogutu, accomplished its goal, with Liliana Galván, IDEA Vice President online, and Borisav Matić, IDEA Administrator, in person, carefully guiding the online participants so that they could feel included and that their voices could be heard.
I believe we all share the feeling that the world is regaining its normality after the years of the pandemic and that borders and countries are opening up more and more. For IDEA it all started with our Reykjavik Congress last year, as a meeting of friends and colleagues and the possibility to share and exchange, talk and be together in one space in real-time. But what these difficult times have brought us is the new paradigm that we can share not only an actual real-time place, but we can also include the presence of others that are thousands of miles away, and still feel like we are in the same room, that we are all together. These blended events, the Madeira Summit, the Kampala Conference and especially our Uganda GCM, proved that we can be together, work together and connect through screens and on-site.
Sanja Krsmanović Tasić at the keynote speech at the International Conference on Performing Arts
I am again full of admiration and respect for my colleagues that worked so hard to make these events come to life and also for those who have traveled so far to be there for all IDEA members, present and future. Marion Küster, Joachim Reiss, Colleen Roche, Mercy Mirembe Ntangaare, Liliana Galvan, Patrick Ogutu, Elisabeth Murrey, and many more.
But let us also reflect not only on successes and joyful events but also be aware of the turbulent world we live in, and that many of our colleagues need support and encouragement to pass difficult moments in their lives. We need to support our colleagues from the Creative Drama Association from Turkey, after the horrific earthquake that happened in February. There have been many turbulences in Greece, with the tragic train crash in Larissa and protests all over the country, involving drama school students and artists concerning the degradation of the position and qualifications of drama/theatre artists and educators. Not to mention the war in Ukraine and the suffering of all people in conflicted areas worldwide. And just recently the mass shootings in my own country, Serbia, where one of the shooters was a 13-year-old boy, and the victims were his schoolmates.
Discussion at the GCM in Kampala about IDEA-Africa relations and collaboration
It is impossible for us to solve injustices and world problems but what we can do is continue to nourish what we call IDEA culture. It is a culture of solidarity and support, without prejudice, inclusive and generous, warm and human. It is a special environment where drama/theatre educators, pedagogues, students, scholars, researchers, teaching artists, teachers and everyone who is involved in our field is welcome and feels a belonging and acceptance. We are here to connect, meet, develop and open doors and windows. We are a home for all. And we are growing stronger each day through the acceptance of our own vulnerabilities, imperfections reflecting our humanity.
I believe and practice in my work the African concept of UBUNTU, especially in my pedagogical drama/theatre education work on the prevention of bullying. It was exciting for me to talk about that in my keynote speech at the National Theatre of Uganda on World Theatre Day at the opening of the Conference, to talk about how African cultures and concepts inspire me and my work. So I share with you one of the essential messages of this concept:
“I am because we are.”
Enjoy reading our May newsletter!
Sanja Krsmanović Tasić, IDEA President