By Sue Giles
I am writing from the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurung people of the Kulin Nation in Australia and pay my respects to Elders past and present. I pay my respects also to the elders and community of the Sámi people of Sweden.
As President of ASSITEJ International I am delighted to welcome you all to this auspicious moment where the first part of the digital-form ASSITEJ Magazine begins the journey towards the 2022 ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering in Helsingborg, Sweden. From this moment until May 2022, each month the Magazine will offer new writing, reflection and opinion from our members across the world, responding to the dramaturgy of ASSITEJ International Regenerating: Handle with care.
The Bibu Festival declares “No one is left behind” in their festival, with a particular lens on sustainability in all its forms. For the next two months, the articles here in the digital Magazine will delve into these topics, with contributors opening the door to thinking and possibility in theatre and performance for children and young people. To underpin this the programming of Bibu 2022 provides focus on Indigenous practice throughout the world, and the learning that we can gain from Indigenous perspectives on country and land, on belonging, identity and care as well as perspectives on theatre and the place of art across generations.
We are at a time where the frailties of our sector have become very clear – the cracks and gaps are more visible and our role as an Association never more important. It is vital that we continue to seek ways to involve new people and expand our reach and knowledge. We now have the delightful promise of gathering again travelling to experience in real life wonderful work created for children and young people; to sit once more in shared space, to feel the effect and energy of live performance and talk, listen and dance together once more. And we have with us always, the tools and mechanisms to bring those who cannot attend into the gathering in other ways, offering workshops, performance, discussions and social events parallel to the physical.
During this time between 2019 and now we have not been idle and we have discovered much. The extraordinary 20th World Congress – on the ground in Japan and in the digital realm for the world – was a great success with more people than ever before connecting, some for the first time, to the generous community of ASSITEJ. The digital will be with us forever, connecting people who have not had access before and making new forms of practice possible – forms that will have the least impact on the planet, and the greatest possibility of international collaboration and exchange.
ASSITEJ International has grown as an Association since we last met, in connection, responsibility and invention; our EC meets and works in different ways and our shared knowledge of the global community has grown. The challenges we face are many as we see fragile systems buckle under the impact of the pandemic but we are stronger than ever in our resolve to advocate and work for children and young people’s right to access theatre and performance, and for sustainable creative practice for TYA artists everywhere.
The ASSITEJ Magazine will provide stepping stones towards the Bibu Festival and the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2022 in Sweden; a glorious event of celebration and sharing for our community, encouraging engagement from all. Come with us on the journey through the ideas, practice and inspirations of our members through this ASSITEJ magazine.
ASSITEJ would like to thank the organisers of Bibu festival and ASSITEJ Sweden for their visionary work and approach and our wonderful EC working group who have created this magazine for us to enjoy.