Watch the full video of the webinar.
transform! europe promoted, together with the Culture Network of the European Left, a webinar on the condition of cultural workers in Europe with the participation of the Austrian theatre director Eva Brenner, Austrian theatre, the Irish performer Antony Keigher, and Greek opera singer Margarita Syngeniotou, moderated by Roberto Morea of transform! europe.
The meeting was very useful not only for understanding the various national situations and the different, though similar, conditions through which workers and culture in general are facing the crisis, but also and above all for understanding the kind of basis on which a political action needs to take place in order to bring culture and the jobs connected to it, back to the centre of attention.
Certain questions emerged as common experiences:
- the marginalisation of the ‘free’ experiences of creating art and performing outside mainstream circuits, experiences which took place in all countries a long time before the pandemic, with the directing of public funds only to large institutions often connected to circles linked to reactionary forces. Indeed, even with the closing of concert halls and theatres, a guarantee of continued functioning was extended only to these cultural institutions.
- the crisis of live performance which, especially in the summer period, in many countries represents a very important source of income (in Greece for example even more so than tourism), and the discomfort with online forms of performance, which are no substitute – artistically or economically – for live performance.
- the trade union component of the cultural workers’ struggle to which Margarita Syngeniotou very rightly referred; she, as the union representative of Greece’s cultural workers, posed the question in clear terms and laid the groundwork for a deeper definition of support for workers.
- lastly, the use of the crisis to cancel and further privatise, open and public spaces and places dedicated to cultural activities.
In sum, the webinar was a valuable contribution to the integration of this theme by the European Left and the possibility of sensitising politics to the cultural struggle, which, I believe, has to bring together those who are carrying it out in the field of figurative and performative art.
A further aim of this webinar was to promote the next Culture Assembly in the framework of the Alternative Forum.
Eva Brenner is an independent experimental theater worker, author, and producer. After studying art, theater history, as well as stage design in Vienna, she worked for five years in Austrian, Swiss and German theaters before moving to the USA in 1980. Here she studied Performing Arts and Performance Studies at NYU, and became co-founder of the independent political Castillo Theater. Since 1994 she has been working out of Vienna, as Artistic Director of the experimental theater collective PROJEKT THEATER STUDIO/FLEISCHEREI_mobil, where she directed over 50 political performances and new formats of socio-theatre with migrants and community people. She has toured, lectured and given workshops internationally and in 2013 published her book about independent theater ADAPTATION or RESISTANCE, The Loss of Diversity.
Margarita Syngeniotou is a lyric artist and opera singer (mezzo). Having a prominent career, she both works with the National Opera Company and as a soloist and lyric song teacher. She is an experienced trade unionist and has recently been elected as Co-President of the performing artists 3rd grade trade union organisation (Panhellenic Association of Visual and Audio Artistic Sector). She is also very active in the political and social field and a member of the secretariat of SYRIZA Culture Sector.
His stage name is Xnthony his real name is Anthony Keigher. He is from Roscommon in the West of Ireland and lives in London. He is a well know cabaret artist and performer in both Ireland and London and has performed at the Edinburgh Festival, the Dublin Fringe Theatre Festival and others and is well known among the LGBTQ community in Britain and Ireland. His work always has a political edge both large and small P. He is currently working on a musical about Cromwell the English dictator who ravaged Ireland in the 17th century carrying out genocide and ethnic cleansing and hugely increasing the momentum of English colonialism in Ireland, Englands first colony. His theatre work contains radical and thought provoking challenges to patriarchy and heteronormativity. He is a radical young performer and artist.