On the July, 6, 2019, in the theatre Formaat, in Rotterdam, a group of people came together for the “Raise Your Voice Festival”. The festival was organized by Stichting CAAT Projects in collaboration with Stichting Formaat Wekplaats voor Participatierf Drama.
The event involved 53 citizens, including 23 participants from the city of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1 participant from the city of Budapest, Hungary, 8 participants from the city of Lisbon, Portugal, 6 participants from the city of Brussels, Belgium, 7 participants from the city of Warsaw, Poland, 6 participants from the city of Athens, Greece, 1 participant from the city of Bucharest, Romania, 1 participant from the city of Skopje, North Macedonia.
The artistic acts were previously prepared by a group of 30 young people and then presented to the wider group. They were challenged with that task and even if most of them were not artists themselves, they worked together to plan a 2 hours act with poetry, dance and music.
In preparation to the festival we have talked about possible issues that young people are facing in their local setting. The main problems identified by the young people, that were common to their countries, were the following: women’s rights, minorities ‘rights, integration of refugees, discrimination, medical and educational staff are not prepared to deal with the ones that have issues, pressure from the society to hide/suppress your feelings and emotions, a post-colonialist mindset that was preserved in Europe, to have easy access to healthy food and the lack of psychological support in mental hospitals and school.
We also need to set an example and to promote the type of society that we want to see. So the European Union and the National politicians should provide the resources needed, but then it has to be each one of us the agent of change.
When the group analysed the 5 scenarios of the White Paper on the Future of Europe, they immediately refuse the scenery to continue as it is or to focus on the single market. In general, their idea is that the politics in Europe and in each national country is way to focus on the economic interests and that is why they neglect the minorities and their rights. Thus, the only scenery that would be desirable for an united Europe was the last one, “Doing much more together”.
After this discussion and when the group was deciding for the collective message to be send to the European Parliament, they reach the conclusion that we cannot just seat and wait for the politicians to solve their challenges.
For the group the priority was to look to people as lives full of potential and not as numbers.