WYA Europe holds fourth European Arts Forum

World Youth Alliance Europe has concluded its 4th European Arts Forum, this year under the title “Arts and Common Values“. Taking place in Brussels from the 23th to 27th of June, the forum gathered around 60 young artists, art critics, scholars, European decision-makers, diplomats and participants from across Europe (Italy, Croatia, Belgium, Spain and Lebanon) for an exhibition, workshops, and conferences that examined the relationship between art and the common European values.

The Forum simultaneously exhibited the diverse work of young artists from across Europe and equipped the youth with the tools necessary to fully accept and support common European values of human dignity, freedom, tolerance and respect for human rights. The exhibition ranged from photography, musical and acting performances, paintings to movie screenings.

On the opening of this year’s EAF, participants were greeted by Ms Zsófia Villegas-Vitézy, Cultural Counselor of Hungarian Cultural Institute, where the event was held. Ms Villegas-Vitézy pointed out that “talent for art is a gift but also an immense responsibility, because we are invited to show life from another perspective”. Soon after, WYAE Regional Director Elisabeth Gudenus officially opened the Forum inviting young artists to exhibit their experience and vision of art on the theme of common values. Then followed a discussion with the participants lead by Lucia Czernin, Luka Tripalo and Jerónimo Ayesta López. We talked about the “extra” in the ordinary and how all of us are called to make of our lives masterpieces. How poetry, same as art, is a lifelong vocation in which an artist should persist even when his efforts are fruitless. Finally the discussion turned to the main theme of the event: How values are represented in art, and Jeronimo invited artists to improve people’s hearts through beauty and make the good be something we want to achieve. Because indeed, beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. The day ended with an ice-breaker where participants could get to know each other better.

On Sunday, participants enjoyed in five different city tours, discovering vivid parts of Brussels and enjoying the sunny day.  While their thoughts were still occupied by the beautiful scenes from the city, participants visited the House of European History, where they learned about common European heritage and the history of conflicts and unity which gave a great introduction to the city of Brussels, the heart of Europe. The day finished with a cocktail party and musical performances from two singers and pianists: Isabel Pérez Dobarro and Amal Sfar.

On Monday, the program continued with the promotion of artists through presentations of their work and vision. Artist shared many stories and experiences that led them to create the exhibited artworks. In the afternoon, all participants gathered at Place du Luxembourg in front of the European Parliament, and created collaborative artwork under the topic: “United in differences” – everyone could contribute with their individual creativity and vision about unity in culture. The structure, that was a base for drawings made by participants, was a work of architect Fernando Molina. Participants also gathered around Theodore de Solages from Brussels Rock School and had an opportunity to create their own sound which grew into a great concert. To celebrate another beautiful and successful day, participants gathered around an intercultural table and tried many delicacies from all over the Europe, Lebanon and Turkey.

On Tuesday, art and common values were linked through a panel discussion in the European Parliament moderated by WYAE Director of Advocacy Antoine Mellado. Young artists and art enthusiasts had a chance to share their experiences in different projects and point out many positive aspects of art. Another panel discussion followed about the relationship between art and the human person and the role of the European Union in encouraging young artists.

Wednesday was the last day of the project when participants had a chance to reflect and discuss about what they learned and what they will be bringing back home. The forum officially closed with a lunch ceremony in the Taipei representative office in EU and Belgium, with speeches from Croatian MEP Ivica Tolić and Italian MEP Brando Benifei who encouraged young people to be the change in the world and bring values which are necessary in these moments, where most of all, we need unity.

The event was hard to finish. For five days, EAF gathered so many amazing minds, creative thinkers and doers, cheerful faces, and amazing young leaders. Many friendships and partnerships were made and every person brought something very special to this event. Arts & Common Values encouraged us to seek beauty in everyday things, to find extra in the ordinary, to find beauty and inspiration in each other, and will be remembered and serve as a motivation for further creation.