ACT is a project initiated by 10 cultural operators from 10 European countries, working in the field of performing and visual arts. ACT is a project with the support of the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
ACT emerges from the cultural operators of the preceding Imagine2020 project. This European project evolved around raising awareness on the climate crisis, and presenting the arts as a strong designer of possible futures. Social awareness and citizen action on these issues recently saw an enormous increase in intensity and spread.
ACT maintains our focus on arts, ecology and climate change, but we connect this the interlinked issues of inequality, climate justice and urban ecologies. Finding ourselves in the Anthropocene era, we seek to include the agency and voicing of the non-human and other voices. Recent uprisings and protests in our cities support our agenda to adress via the arts the networks of dependency, inequality and power that define our (in)ability for collective action. It is not just transition, it is a just transition which is urgently needed: a transition that is based on our ethical awareness and ecological understanding of interaction between species, humans and their political and natural environments.
This agenda of a ‘just transition’ defines our cooperation as cultural partners. It inspired us to agree on a set of shared values. These are embedded in the choice of our artists, the structure of our project and the ways we engage our audiences. The nature, size, focus and statutes of the ten partners vary widely: from state funded city theatres to independent festivals. Most of us are firmly based in the performing arts, but our approach includes also visual arts, community oriented arts and critical discourse. The issues we adress in our project are mirrored in its structure and organization. In the ACT project our differences are our strenghts. We learn from and share each others formats and practices. We provide our artists with opportunities to develop their work and connect it to various European localities.
“It’s important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is, or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and tremendous destruction. The hope I’m interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act.”Rebecca Solnitt, in: Hope in the dark, 2003
In the coming for years you will see the ACT project emerging around the work of artists we engage with. All of the artists we work with connect to our own attitude in a way that is best described by a motto of the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci: ‘I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will’. In their artistic production, this attitude finds quite different expressions. The attitude, curiosity, orientation and discipline of our artists provide our compass. This compass has roughly three dimensions:
We connect with artists who explore these new and emerging constellations (the incurable curious); artists with a very clear, consequently unfolding artistic practice (the conscious developers), and those challenging the political and social status quo from the domains of the arts (political propellers).
The interconnection between ecology and social and political issues requires a true European exchange whilst firmly rooting in the particular, local and concrete situations of the ten cities/regions in which we work. We aim at fostering connections between the local and the European. Sustained impact and real learning require more than incidental exchange. The diversity of our localities and the knowledge and tactics that are present in our communities contain the potential for deeper learning. In our project we foresee work that is shared with the whole group, work that is presented among several partners, and individual, local productions.
Under the labels ‘collection Europe’ and ‘relay lectures’ we present two shared formats that are rooting locally and circulating through Europe. Also our yearly Summerlabs will involve all the partners.
Under the label ‘spaces and means’ we will combine and learn from each others activities and practices that provide place for ‘cultures of othering’, or ‘futuring’. The opening and inclusion of our own facilities, or the political struggle for creating these places will be shared among the partners.
We will be able to support via coproductions the work of artists we connect with. We will also invite artists through commissioned work for artistic explorations and development of work that connects to the issues ACT wants to address and raise.
At two moments in the four year period we align our artistic agenda with major political moments/events on climate and biodiversity. Under the label ‘agenda’ you will find how we actively foster overlapping of discourse and audiences.
We are always open to get in touch with you about the work we do. We provide a bi-monthly newsletter, keeping you updated on the content and reflection of the project. Opportunities to connect it to research, production and communication are welcomed.
Please contact the project lead partner, Theater Rotterdam / Arie Lengkeek via a.lengkeek [at] theaterrotterdam.nl