By Tamlyn Martin
These are just a few of the delicately unfurling ideas that I’ve been wrapping my head around over the summer, working with the wonderful Euroculture en Pays Gentians organisation. https://euroculture.wordpress.com/
Well… happily volunteering my skills in exchange for the abundance of new skills, experiences, and exchanges with likeminded others to be more accurate. I also received a phenomenal, intensive training in French and
Bulgarian cooking, group catering for a huge variety of cultures and leant so much about the French food chain working with amazing local food producers. See some of the heavenly and simple recipes in our food section.
“What are you doing with all these creatives in France? Can you tell us more? How do these projects work?“ Are just some of the many questions everyone has been asking me over my last two months. Finally I have come out the other side of the creative woods to explain, but it’s difficult to know where to start… being woman’s month and working with mother earth’s climate crisis over the past month has made me
aware that no matter our gender definitions, it’s vital that we all shift toward our mothering, rebirthing, rewilding , more generative and healing modes of being… to mother our internal and external environments
back to health .
Laurent Festas is the founder or rather mother of Euroculture, due to his unique ability to intuit subtitle complexities of his childhood community and those of the central Cantal mountains communities of France and across the Massive Central, that this dynamic creative organisation was founded in
2001. The earlier echoes of the project started in 1996 with Laurent’s fathers yearly stone sculpting symposium “Pierres de Menet “designed to preserve and keep alive the ancient art of stone Masonry
unique to this region ( I’ve also participated in this project in 2014 ) Laurent Festas gathered a group of likeminded young creative residents to facilitate enriching cultural activities to invigorate the
tiny communities of these remote areas, to try and preserve their fragile cultural ecosystems, that where dwindling due to urban migration of many of the youth.
Over the last 22+yrs the projects have successfully bought fresh creative thinking, addressed many vital humanitarian issues, and hosted enriching exchanges amongst my thousands of gifted creatives and academics from across the European Union. This intercultural pollination has leading to ground-breaking
theatre productions, films, and documentaries. Festas has also initiated larger scale international exchanges with regions that suffer complex challenges around Human rights violations, political and economic repression, and all forms of suppression of human liberties. They have had incredible cultural exchanges with a Mexico, India, Turkey, North Africa during the Arab spring, and during the 2014 revolutions in the Ukrainian. Bringing youth directly affected by these issues into direct safe intercultural dialogue with youth from across the European Union to share their first-hand experiences.
Extraordinarily talents have been discovered trained and nurtured by the many expert mentors and teachers. Some of these amazingly talented participants then were invited to partake in international professional art
creations between 2009 and 2015 performing all around Europe, Mexico, and SA. More recently the complicated and unavoidable reality of migration and ecological crises, have taken on a central focus and in this year’s project these two topics have unavoidably begun to fuse, with temperatures in Europe soaring as fire and war blaze. The projects offer the safe creative space to look these crises in the eyes and create work that grows knowledge, empathy, debate and activates change.
I first met Laurent, his incredible family and team of staff in 2014 as part of an extensive cultural exchange between France and South Africa. I worked for a month in all the schools in this area teaching about Mandela’s humanistic legacy, shortly after his death. It’s been so special to reconnect with many of my students from this period (many are now adults). I’ve loved reconnecting with the community member’s and to truly observe sifts in these communities due to these projects. There are any young families living in these
villages now, buildings are being renovated, public spaces upgraded by the municipality, there are flowers and veg gardens, day visitors, markets, cool hip shops and conscious groceries… but most wonderfully there is singing, dancing, theatre, music and film , making its way to the ever younger residents ( even the older residents seem younger at heart) I can see the delight in everyone when they meet new people from other cultures.
Not surprisingly Laurent was awarded the 2018 European Citizen of the Year, a prize from the European Parliament given in Brussels and Paris for phenomenal impact his work has had in this region. The projects continue to operate with the combined support of the Erasmus project, European Union funding and massive
public local facilitation. This allows Euroculture to reach, support and work with creatives who otherwise would not be able to experience these amazing opportunities. If you are intreated in finding out more about these wonderful projects check put their face book page and website or find out how you could offer support or sponsorship by contacting Euroculture’s administrator wiz… Cécile at [email protected].