There are no borders in me, I want to be free. The sky is the limit, for my community – the international workshops in Budapest

by Julia Maria Stachura, ARTeria

Freedom is about being able to make decisions according to your own visions and preferences. When we talk about art, artistic creation, development, the term “freedom” takes on even greater meaning. Taking up topics such as the mental condition of artists in post-pandemic times, the ability to control stress, the ability to set boundaries – these are just some of the issues that were raised and developed during the intensive three days of workshops of the Creative Agora project.

During a workshop for artists – educators from seven countries of the Creative Agora partnership, in Budapest, Hungary, a jointly written song was created. This task was prepared by Uni’Sons team. Together with other participants we composed a melodic line, and then in smaller groups we wrote the lyrics. Writing words about freedom in a foreign language, with newly met international educators, was an extremely creative but difficult task. Each of us was involved, despite the different visions for writing the verses. When working in groups, the voice of each participant counted. Freedom of speech, openness and kindness of the participants contributed to the creation of the title song of the workshop. At the end, when we sang a freshly written song together in a beautiful, gilded room, symbolic words about freedom, borders and community resounded.

Working together on creative workshop tasks aroused a lot of emotions. Participants of the workshops represented the artistic sector of each partnership country. The opportunity to cooperate in international groups, inspiring conversations with artists, participation in activating workshops prepared by artistic groups will remain in my memory for a long time. Already during the first day I felt a huge amount of ideas, I absorbed every even short conversation with people full of passion, art and openness.

After the second day of the workshop we went to a theater play about the homelessness crisis in Budapest. This is a difficult, burdensome but current topic, not only in Hungary, but all over the world. A conversation with the director of the play helped to understand the concept of the project. During the play, we, as the audience, together with the actors, were to actively participate in the performance.

The next part of the second day of the workshop was a block devoted to the wellbeing of artists in post-pandemic times prepared by ARTeria Foundation team. At the beginning of my presentation, I invited all participants to integration exercises, and then I had the opportunity to give a presentation on the well-being and mental condition of artists. As a student of preschool and early childhood pedagogy and a recent high school student, I remember very well when the world as I knew it before (before the Covid-19 pandemic) turned upside down in an instant. I remember when as a high school student I was sitting at the school desk during a Polish language lesson. During this lesson, the headmistress entered the classroom and announced that we were all to go home as soon as possible at safe distances. It was a huge shock for me and the moment when I felt absolutely stressed by this sudden announcement about the evacuation. Now, more than 2 years after that event, when I am an adult, I work with children as an animator, I also train younger animators, I have gained a bit of life experience, the thought of the pandemic makes me and many people afraid.

Artists from time immemorial have always been more sensitive and sensitive to art, led an “artistic” lifestyle, functioned in a way that deviated from the average person, experiencing emotions much more. For artists, educators, dancers, vocalists – for every member of artistic circles, with the pandemic entering the circulation, life has also changed. Owners, employees, artists-educators of places such as ceramic studios, painting studios, music schools, dance schools, artistic and therapeutic centers faced a huge crisis. This crisis concerned both financial issues and the mental condition of artists. The problems caused by the pandemic aroused fear, anxiety, frustration, lack of creative inspiration in many artists or led in some cases to suicides due to the inability to cope with the dynamics of the pandemic.

However, there were artists who tried to get out of the pandemic as much as they could. In my presentation, I also talked about the methods and ways that artists used to constantly create. Internet platforms, social media, online trainings and workshops, live coverage during various thematic broadcasts, caused great activation and unification of many artists and people willing to create pandemic works together.

I also listened carefully to the presentation of the Polish playwright – Weronka Murek, who in her presentation brought us closer to the subject of mental condition and challenges at work in the theater environment. The next part of the workshop that day was a breathing workshop conducted by Wenancjusz Ochmann. Each participant after a whole day of intensive workshop work, during the exercises ending the day could relax.

Third day of the workshops was prepared by Urbani Separe team and focused on the social impact.

This three-day workshop filled me with positive energy and willingness to further develop my competences in the field of being an animator educator. Beautiful Budapest, smiling people, the smell of freshly baked Hungarian kurtos at metro stations will remain in my memory as a time of inspiration and magic.

I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the creation of the Creative Agora project.

There are no borders in me. I want to be free.