Nadácia Milana Šimečku/Milan Šimečka Foundation
We have been organizing [fjúžn] festival of new minorities in Bratislava for 15 years. It brings topics of migration and life of foreigners closer to the general public, creates a space for meetings and gives voice to foreigners who live in Slovakia. We aim to broaden and establish our activities outside of the capital, searching for communities of foreigners and partners to help us show and present the diversity of Slovak society and thus make it harder to use fear of the unknown to divide us.
Piešťany, Banská Štiavnica, Komárno, Nitra, Trnava, Košice and other (10 cities in total)
We are trying to aim at cities or regions that A) have quite a big numbers of foreigners living there - in this case we try to create space for the foreigners´communities to present their projects, ideas, open up about their life in the region and for the majority population to get to know them and understand the importance to have a safe and tolerant space for everybody or B) cities or regions that have very little experience with immigration and thus are prone to fear the unknown and believe that foreigners are a "threat". When choosing the cities we want to go to, we consider how many foreigners live there, if there is a specific need to bring this topic closer to the people (attitudes) and whether we can find partners from cultural sphere and migrant communities to work with.
We seek local actors and foreigners who would join the festival to present their lives, engage in community and cultural events that would bring attention to the fact that they are part of our society and it does not mean they are pushing anyone out of it. The society we want to present is one which is welcoming to all. We need to create different strategy for each city or region depending on their experience or attitudes (it might be different to work in Komárno where we need to find a way to talk about both traditional national minorities (hungarian) with diaspora of "new minorities" of foreigners and for example in Nitra or Trnava where many of the foreigners are manual workers who are looked at through different type of stereotype than other communities elsewhere.
Our target groups are migrant communities and individuals living in Slovakia (their status, activities and background might be very diverse). We try to find flexible ways to engage them - either inviting them to our events (discussions, hosting guided walks -city through the eyes of foreigners, community events) or exploring how we can connect their cultural or cummunity projects to our program - giving them platform to present what they do.
The other target group is the "general public" for whom this is a chance to meet and talk to people who are often stigmatized and looked at with some kind of prejudice, or who are almost invisible. The point is to encourage them to meet other people and create their own experience-based attitudes towards those who we often hear about as "the others".
First step is to find (or intensify) cooperations with local actors. Then we prepare a program for each city that meets its needs best. Our multi-genre character means we can adjust it flexibly. We want to work with local schools, have discussions, exhibitions, Forum theatre (bringing topics of tolerance or discrimination), community events, etc. Some things might be universal for all the cities (exhibition/concerts), but in each town we want to create an exclusive content that would best work in each context - depending on the experiences, attitudes and so on. We also want to support the local communities throughout the year in their activities that might later be presented during the main festivals. We are also developing web that will compile information and stories of foreigners.
Our goal is to bring the topics of migration to places where it is perceived as something "distant" (and often negative), through stories of local migrants. We want to create an opportunity for local migrants to be heard, to get their stories shared in local media in order for the local population to realize they are also part of their city. We expect that some collaboration will be created between local Slovak and migrant artists, a symbolic gesture will be shown by the municipality to acknowledge all its inhabitants, either through the festival or local media who will discover interesting people with a story worth sharing. We aim at building a critical mass of people showing acceptance towards diverse inhabitants in the local communities.
We believe that the topic of migration became very challenging in many (if not all) European countries - even though each country might have a very different experience with migration. We have been witnessing misuse of the topic from many political figures or other actors in Europe. By improving negative or indifferent attitudes toward migrants locally, in the long run, it might get more complicated to misuse these topics in the future. People might start demanding more humane solutions, solidarity-based approaches and the bases of democracy and dignity of all might be taken more honestly and seriously. It is of course just one of many aspects, but starting locally and creating personal experiences for people is one of the ways to contribute to that.
Slovakia is home to around 140 000 foreigners at this moment and the number of foreigners living here is still growing by approx. 18% every year. We believe this country should be a safe and welcoming space for all its inhabitants. Attitudes towards many different minorities suggest there is a long way ahead of Slovakia to get there. We have 15 years old experience with creating a festival in Bratislava and we feel the need to establish similar events in other parts of Slovakia. We want to use the experience, expertise, networks and the fact, that many people around the country share this vision and work in other Slovak cities more intensively and consistently.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
For 1 city:
Office expenses - 100 EUR
Management, dramaturgy - 500 EUR
Production costs - 1 000 EUR
Subsistance, travel costs - 200 EUR
Publicity - 400 EUR
Program - 1 500 EUR
= 3 700 EUR x 10 cities = 37 000 EUR
+ Contingency - 5%
38 850 EUR