By Mari Trini Giner (via Are We Europe)
In Hungary, a country dominated politically by the extreme right since 2010, there is an island on the Danube river that seems unaffected by this politics. Since 1993, one of the biggest summer festivals in Europe has been held in Budapest for a week. It is Sziget – the island of freedom. In the last edition of the Sziget, there was a special addition to the program. These photos may not be the typical ones you would expect to see from a music festival, and yet enhance the organization’s core values.
As Tamás Kádár, CEO of Sziget, and József Kardos, director of the festival program, say: “Since Sziget exists, Hungary has changed governments. Luckily, we are strong enough to continue with the same values we started, fighting for human rights, inclusion and tolerance.”
During the festival, this message is clear with all the posters around the island spreading messages from their “Love Revolution” campaign about peace, freedom and anti-racism. The message on the main stage of the festival is: “The power of our diversity unites us. Together we can change the world.” In addition, last year there have been artists from more than 60 different countries and visitors from more than 100 countries.
For the first time, there were presentations and brief speeches on the main stage as part of the “Love Revolution Special” program. They called attention to social changes throughout the world and the collective responsibility of society, with the aim of giving voice to different causes, from climate change to refugees.
In the Global Village space of the festival was the “Tent Without Borders” – a place where a collection of organizations, including UNICEF Hungary, UNHCR, Terres des Hommes, Living Together and MNHI, the National Museum of Immigration History Paris, organized different activities daily, from documentary screenings and debates, to games, dance and virtual reality experiences about refugees.
For the dance class and the fashion show with African clothes, to which everyone was invited to participate and put on some of the accessories, the Master of Ceremonies was Jean Paul Mehansio, founder of Afropeps. Meanwhile Sol Picó, the choreographer and Spanish dancer, made a specific piece for Sziget with 20 young Hungarian dancers, about the struggles and tragedies faced by migrants in the Mediterranean.
“This is a tribute to the people who have died in the sea,” Sol Picó said. “This raft has arrived directly from the coast of Aleppo. It was full of people trying to reach the European coast. Its capacity is for 50 people but more than 100 people were sailing on it. This is a real raft. The Catalan NGO, Open Arms, has lent us this raft. While these people are dying on the sea, Europe is doing nothing and our silence makes us accomplices.”
In Sziget, in addition to the integration of immigrants, refugees or LGTBIQ+, there was another area, XS Land, where they focused on people with reduced capacities. They had different sports facilities and games so that anyone could see in first person, for a few minutes, the difficulties faced by deaf, blind, people with Parkinson, and people in a wheelchair. You could, for example, play wheelchair basketball or football, learn to paint without using your hands and go climbing with your eyes covered. More complicated than it might sound, although everything is a matter of practice.
This article is part of the Discover series, a collaboration between the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards and Are We Europe. This project is cofunded by the Creative Europe programme.