Balkanconnection 2.0: The Young Generation and the Future of the Region
How can a young person from the Balkans present an idea that works today to find an audience? What visions of the future does the youth have? Is this the only way out of stagnation and into diaspora? How can social media be used to create and further develop a positive Balkanconnection 2.0? And how can this in a pandemic ensure that people distance themselves socially, but create an authentic inner closeness? How can the art from Balkans play an important role in this? And what influence does the new generation have on politics here in Germany, but also in their respective home countries?
With our festival in 2021, we would like to offer the youth of Balkans, in both the individual countries of origin and in the diaspora, a platform to conduct a discourse on the future for the art and culture in the region. Especially during and after the corona crisis, it will be important to look for new ways of cooperation and communication to give young artists the opportunity to shape and develop society. A whole range of new, progressive and courageous artist are already showing their talent on social media and are engaging with their followers. With national and social boundaries increasingly disappearing, the only point of difference among young people is their preferences and interests. Balkanconnection 2.0 is formed between those who already reside here in Western Europe and those who still live in the Balkans and striving to leave. This connection should be used constructively at our festival to create new contacts for future projects, to present the current projects and to give the local scene new impulses and ideas.
This new generation speaks in a bold way with its own voice that wants to be heard everywhere in Europe and around the world. It connects the soul of the Balkans, traditionally and culturally with the modern world and the ideas of the future. The Balkans wants to show themselves in individual performance and commitments, they also increasingly demands political participation. In Germany there are many people from the Balkans who are shaping society through their social and artistic commitments, but also want to gain more influence on the active shaping of politics and culture. This enables an exciting interaction between individual groups with different backgrounds and opens a discourse for future-oriented topics.
The youth from the Balkans no longer just want to be victims of politics and have to endure the system that destroys any perspective for them, but they want to get involved socially and artistically and use their potential to create a better future for themselves and all human beings.
The Balkantage have been an integral part of Munich’s cultural scene for 14 years. The motto for the 15th anniversary of the festival, which will take place next year in Munich from 26 February to 5 April 2021, is “Balkanconnection 2.0: The young generation and the future of the region”.
This time, the focus is on the young generation of the Balkans, both in the individual countries of origin and in the diaspora. They are given the opportunity here to develop a vision for art, culture, and society in the region. Especially during and after the Corona pandemic, it is important to seek new ways of cooperation and communication for this.
The festival with its diverse cultural events with over 5000 visitors always also offers a platform for discourse on the future of art, culture and life in the region and promotes dialogue between the cultures as well as ways of life of all countries on the Balkan Peninsula.
This is also bitterly necessary. Not so long ago, in the 1990s, the individual ethnic groups of the former Yugoslavia waged a brutal war against each other, which ultimately led to the disintegration of the Balkan state. The division of the country into different nation states is not only expressed by the state borders of the respective countries, but also by the extreme demarcation of different ethnic and religious groups from each other.
At the Balkantage, all ethnic groups come together peacefully, recognise more similarities than differences and dance hand in hand to traditional music during the Balkan Bazaar. Organising this and making it a reality was not easy, especially at the very beginning, and actually a big risk, because the wounds of the cruel war were and still are deep and painful.
The concept and idea for the Balkantage came from Sadija Klepo, the founder of the association “Hilfe von Mensch zu Mensch e.V.” and Dr Dieter Hüttner. Sadija Klepo experienced the war and fled Bosnia with three children. Nevertheless, she never gave up the vision of peaceful coexistence and held on to it against all odds and doubts.
The association “Hilfe von Mensch zu Mensch” (Help from Person to Person) was founded in 1992 as an aid and donation initiative for Bosnian war refugees. It has continued to develop and is still committed to making our society more humane and open. Migrants and refugees are helped to stand on their own two feet and integrate into German society. More than 200 employees from over 30 nations are now working towards this common goal. With her selfless humanitarian commitment to society, Sadija Klepo has set new standards in integration and migration work in Germany. On 3 November 2015, she received the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon, the highest honour bestowed by the Federal Republic of Germany.
The year 2020 showed how essential culture, participation and exchange are. The multi-year cooperation between Hilfe von Mensch zu Mensch e. V. and MÜNCHENSTIFT GmbH within the framework of the Balkantage is dedicated precisely to these three pillars of being human.
The nine MÜNCHENSTIFT homes are home to elderly people who need permanent care and assistance in their daily lives. Since 2014, we have been on the path of intercultural opening. We want to make our homes and services attractive for people with a migration background. This year’s motto of the Balkantage, “The young generation and the future of the region”, offers another good occasion to exchange ideas about joint cross-generational projects.
We, residents and staff of MÜNCHENSTIFT as well as our friends and guests, are looking forward to stimulating conversations, getting to know each other and moments of togetherness. We look forward to hours of music, dance and literature from the diverse cultures and traditions of all the countries of the Balkan Peninsula.