After seven months of dialogue and organization, a group of “more than 150 policymakers, artists, theatre-makers, theatre & performing arts structures” have published ‘The Dresden Declaration.’ This declaration serves as a conclusion of the work of the European Theatre Forum 2020: European Performing Arts in Focus, the first conference of its kind and held entirely online.
With this declaration, twelve EU theatre and performing arts networks have called for a way to re-envision the future of theatre in Europe, both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This group of twelve, also known as The Consortium, stresses the “importance of culture in Europe, fundamental for every democratic society” while also establishing a collective political voice for theatre and arts sectors. Their declaration defends the theatre and justifies its “added value” to Europe. They argue theatre functions as a means of fostering democracy, enhancing social cohesion, stimulating critical thinking, nourishing empath and imagination, and promoting intercultural dialogue. Furthermore, it stresses the heightened need for these functions as the world begins to envision a post-COVID-19 society.
Above all, the work of The Consortium seeks to define a “sustainable future” for theatre and the performing arts that relies on “pan-European sectoral collaboration.” They’ve laid out a plan for this future in eight steps- with the first goal being to survive and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Additionally, looking beyond the pandemic, they outline the need to reform the theatre with a focus on inclusion, diversity, and access, working towards environmental sustainability, and the “urgent need to defend the freedom of artistic expression.” Most notably, their efforts will be targeted at actual policymakers in the EU and its member states.
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