2009 – 2015 ‘Kisharsány’ integration/community art and culture programme (HUN)

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Baranya County is a poorer area in Hungary. The Roma population is quite big there. But they have really good wines and lovely natures with a little help they could be popular tourist places.

A theather director and a culture programme organzier couple decided to help this area with their knowledge, and they were going to organize culture and art festival there. Four village mayors joined to this initation and the Ördögkatlan Festival was born.

I was working in the Kisharsány village venue as a program organizer from the beginning till the festival grown up such a big, they lost their original goals.

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To go to a village where usually nothing happening, to do something which can help them is like dancing on eggshells. They are mistrustful with the strangers. Minimum half of the community doesn’t want the change. Almost every local think, they are less, than the people who comming from the city.

From the other side, if you want to help them, you have to get to know them. You need to learn their names, their realition ships with each others, the rumors etc. You have to win their trust, to know the tensions and the problems in the community, or later the misunderstandings between the community and the organizer team.

Without them you can’t organize anything there. It is their home, you are the guest. I teached this for every collegues and every participants in every year. Next to the program organizing, program coordinating and financal tasks, my main job was to be a bridge between the locals and ‘strangers’. For this I traveled to Kisharsány several times in a year to keep the contact face-to-face.

In a 3. year when me and the venue builder team are arrived to Kisharsány, couple of days before the art camp started, the locals are waited for us in a pub to celebrate my nameday and one local-man’s birthday together. It was a surprise for us. They cooked meals, brang puddings and tradicional Hungarian spirits: palinka.

We organized cooking competition for them. They were the models and the story tellers in the film- and photo workshops. A couple of year later we organized a Kisharsány Stars competition for them about who is the most photographed in Kisharsány, who is the best amature actor/actress etc. They could joined to every workshops free of charge, the music was the most popular. We organized our smaller events and meetings to the local pub. We cooked our meals from the local materials. We organized welcome and goodbye events for them before and after the festivals.

From the 3. year we got an old, empty mansion house to use as a festival venue. It much bigger than the previous placese. We had to work a lot on it, but we could filled it with new ideai. E.g.: we are collected clothes, books and games during the year, and on the festival we are opened our exchange shop. If you found something dear to you, you have to left something there instead of the selected object. That was the only rules. The ‘something’ can be a sing, a drawing, a poem, not just an other objects. It was an unclear help for the poorer locals and in a same time a good invitation for them to come and stay.

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Because while the festival get bigger and bigger, the locals are started to find themself on the border. Finally they didn’t get anymore free festival tickets. In the twinkle they become the servant and the guest become the queen. They didn’t feel comfortable themself anymore in the festival venues. They didn’t want to come anymore to the programmes. The bigger festival meaning bigger money for the villages, but me and my collegues wanted to give them something else as well. A real experiences. A general respect. So we kept our place free of charge, and did everything to turn the wheel back, but after two hards years, we had to recognize, it’s not working anymore…

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