It is some eight months since ...
the WE-Hope partners, associate partners and friends gathered at the beautiful National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts (CNAM) in Paris for our final public event, featuring a performance of the WE-Hope cantastoria. Now, as we finally wrap up the project, it is appropriate to remember that wonderful event as well as to reflect on the legacy we have achieved since – and hope to go on creating.
Sign to our final event in CNAM. Credits: WE-Hope Project.
There was something magical about meeting together, in person, last September. Our whole project coincided with and was deeply impacted by COVID and we had become used to seeing each other as small rectangles on our screens. And what a beautiful venue! The cavernous gallery that CNAM generously offered us for this event was a work of art in its own right and allowed the sunshine to stream through its vast windows, to brighten up the day. We are very grateful to Pascale Heurtel and her staff for making this venue available to us – and for all the hard work to organise the event on the part of our partner, Michael Culture. Thank you!
Each of the partners was able to explain to the assembled audience of approximately 60 people their role in WE-Hope, and what participation meant for them and their organisation. Amaryllis Raouzaiou and Paraskevi Tzouveli of the Greek Bank of Memories spoke movingly of the challenges of collecting testimony in a time of pandemic, when so many migrants’ lives were made much harder than they already were. Dr Spyros Bekiaris, from our technical partner the National Technical University of Athens, joined us by cyberlink to explain how his team built the WE-Hope Digital Bank of Memories. Sam Lindley, the Creative Director of Threshold Studios, shared with us the journey to create our exceptionally beautiful cantastoria, inspired by the testimony we had collected. Erica Picco and Greta Fedele, representing our associate partner Lapsus, then helped to launch Are Refugees Welcome? – our learning resource, which they had helped to write. Fawzia Worsley represented the Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) at our event; KRAN were a fantastic support to us in connecting with migrants and in helping us to shape an ethical approach to our work.
The significance of our project was placed in a wider context in the panel discussion that followed. Its theme was ‘Memories and experiences of migration in Europe: the role of heritage, art and technology to celebrate our common values’. We were so thankful to the panellists, all extremely knowledgeable and influential in their fields: Barbara Gessler of the European Commission; Aline Denis of the French Ministry of Culture, Tere Badia from Culture Action Europe and Lucy Marinier of CNAM. Prof. Heather Hughes of WE-Hope also participated.
The panellists of our final round table. Credits: WE-Hope Project.
Then we were all treated to a live performance of the WE-Hope cantastoria. Artists Juliet Russell and Zach Walker were both in attendance; a local Parisian choir provided the voices. Our cantastoria was our (updated) contribution to an ancient visual storytelling art, using images and songs, to be performed in public spaces. Zach’s digital imagery powerfully represented the humanity of migrants in their search for safety from conflict, while Juliet’s haunting ‘mouth music’ spoke of our capacity for empathy across cultures and nations.
From left to right: 1- Portrait of the Gabriel Fauré choir 2- Picture of the performance and 3- Picture of Zach's installation. Credits: WE-Hope Project.
What of the legacy of our achievements?
The Digital Bank of Memories contains over 200 memory clips from the testimony that we collected and can be accessed here.
Are Refugees Welcome? is available for download in Italian and English editions here (translate the site into English or Italian for access to the required version). Our first print run of this resource ran out and we have been fortunate to secure further funding to reprint, from the Lincoln International Business School. Email us at email@example.com for hard copies. This resource includes many examples of the testimony from the Bank of Memories – and encourages learners/users to make their own cantastorie to celebrate our EU values of tolerance, celebration of diversity and inclusion.
A picture of the hard copies of our learning resource. Credits: WE-Hope Project.
We hope that those who are touched by WE-Hope will therefore go on creating. Those of us privileged to have been a part of this project will certainly continue to encourage engagement with our resources.