541b304045I haven’t posted here in a while simply because the making of Lanchonete.org (in São Paulo) has taken the wind out of me … in a good way.  However, some of the last week’s encounters seem noteworthy.  It started by being invited to an annual award ceremony for the Prince Claus Fund for Culture & Development, an event that always impresses me, gives me goose bumps, and all that … congrats to one of my fave filmmakers, Jean-Pierre Bekolo and all the laureates!

Then I visited Hildesheim (Germany) where I give an annual talk at the university in the framework of their UNESCO chair on freedom of expression.  This time, I spoke with an ‘open space’ group of students considering the refugee situation.  The relatively small town of Hildesheim has grown from hosting 400 before Summer to approximately 2000 at present.  Neighboring Hannover receives 1000 Syrian refugees a day (of Germany’s 5000-7000 daily arrivals) who are ‘distributed’ throughout the north of Germany … including Hildesheim.  Later the first evening, I moderated the talk-back after an impressive piece of theatre called Refugee Homecare (by the Voll Milch company) through which I learned of a one-year-plus protest camp of Sudanese refugees (also in Hannover) numbering 250+ from which three members were cast in the performance.

On the second day, I participated in a panel entitled Cultural policy for Independent Theatre for the ITI conference ‘Independent Theatre in Contemporary Europe’.  And, finally, I gave the opening remarks for a town hall meeting of cultural producers, artists, politicians, church folks and heads of cultural institutions meeting to plan a unified approach to working with the evolving refugee (and thus rapidly-changing Hildesheim) community.  I learned about resources such as 10 THINGS YOU NEED TO CONSIDER IF YOU ARE AN ARTIST – NOT OF THE REFUGEE AND ASYLUM SEEKER COMMUNITY- LOOKING TO WORK WITH OUR COMMUNITY and Refugees Welcome.

Deep respect for this work!! Next up is Malmö for a conference on artist residencies and cities as sites of safe haven.