On Wednesday 27 January, members and friends of the European Green Party convened for a virtual New Year's Reception. Traditionally organised in Brussels and gathering mostly local supporters, this year we hosted our Green family from all over Europe. The reception was an opportunity to take stock of the year 2020 in all its unprecedented ways, but also celebrate our green successes. Our host was the talented Polish activist Michał Suchora who navigated through our virtual event taking place in both Brussels and Warsaw.
We kicked off the programme with the EGP's co-Chairs Evelyne Huytebroeck and Thomas Waitz who prided our movement for what we've achieved and gave us fresh energy for what's ahead of us. "From politics and business to civil society, everyone is looking at the future differently and wants to build a new model for society on a more sustainable basis" said Evelyne Huytebroeck.
This NY Reception was special for one more reason: it was dedicated to culture. Covid 19 sparked an avalanche of crises. Among many, it did not spare cultural workers who often helped us feel included, connected and inspired. We were reminded once again that culture heals.
The reception centered around the performances of the two Polish artists - experimental musician Jacek "Budyń" Szymkiewicz and butoh dancer TO-EN. Jacek delivered a short but energetic concert that left no one without a smile and TO-EN shared a multimedia performance through which she asked the audience to take a moment and reflect on our relationship with the environment, nature and ourselves. We would like to give a special thanks to our Green family fund donors who supported the artists and made things at least a bit easier for them.
We also had the opportunity to hear from Bénédicte Linard, Vice-President of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and Minister of Children, Health, Media, Culture and Women's Rights and Romeo Franz, Member of the European Parliament, Vice-chair Committee on Culture and Education. Bénédicte Linard who has been fighting for universal access to culture through and beyond the Covid19 crisis said that we need culture, as individuals and as a community and probably even more during times of crisis. Romeo Franz reminded us that culture is an essential tool for combating discrimination and racism. "We the Greens want to be the voice for the cultural sector and we won't leave cultural workers behind", he concluded.
This New Year's reception reminded us that artists, performers and cultural centers were the first to count losses. They were stripped off their income and will be the last to open their doors. That's why, in the words of Thomas Waitz: "We need artists... We owe it to the artists to finally introduce proper social security and a minimum pay."
We firmly believe that protecting artists, cultural workers and infrastructure, as well as bringing equal access to culture for all is now more important than ever. Artists will help us cope with the consequences of the crisis, create new narratives that bring us together, and imagine the world of tomorrow. European culture will contribute to our collective recovery, and thus must be given the necessary financial support.
To learn more about emergency support measures provided for culture in 2020 check out this report from Culture Action Europe/European Cultural Foundation. You can find out more about the general and country-specific support to the cultural sector in this interactive map and this report provided by KEA European Affairs research center.
The Green family wishes you a healthy and culture-filled year!
You can experience the event again on Youtube.