Looking Back at Results of European Intercultural Festival In Minsk

The closing ceremony of the European Intercultural Festival 2013 took place in the art café of the Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus on May 26th.
It was the first time the European Intercultural Festival opened its doors in Belarus. It lasted for seven days and incorporated 21 events engaging more than 600 participants: from the youngest six-year-olds to the mature people of the golden age. The festival had four working languages and participants from more than 10 different countries. Thanks to the number of events everybody had found something to their liking. Public lectures on the history of the European Union, cooperation policy among Member States and the Eastern Partnership Initiative countries, info days with presentations of the EU programmes and possibilities for Belarus by foreign experts and volunteers, foreign language classes, or screenings of interesting films about Europe followed by discussions. Especially successful was the presentation of the English version of  the book “This Country Called Belarus” by Uladzimir Arlou and Zmicer Herasimovich for the foreign diplomatic missions to Belarus. Apart from that, meetings with expats who for a time have called Belarus their second home were  available in the frames of a “Culture Café” project during the Festival.

The closing ceremony started with awarding the winners of the competitions organised as part of the Festival.  Tablet – the prize for creating a symbol (logo) for the project that had built the background for many events throughout the week and is proudly decorating numerous giveaways and souvenirs – went to a young architect from Lida who now works in Minsk Victoryia Vilcheuskaya.

The children’s competition “Painting Europe” that was organized in cooperation with the Center for Support and Development of the Young Entrepreneurship had to crown not one, but ten winners. Young artists between the ages of six to twelve painted places they have already seen or are dreaming of visiting. The jury, consisting of the organizers and the Belarusian artist Zmicer Herasimovich, judged the submitted works.

One of the winners, twelve-year-old Safia Pratsko, who had placed Europe on the back of a cute cat, described her choice this way: “Cat is for me a symbol of freedom and travelling”.

The other winners have depicted European landscapes and castles in a number of different techniques. Young artists were presented with children’s maps of Europe where Belarus is marked by a wisent, puzzles, wooden construction kits of famous European architectural landmarks, easels, water colors, albums and books that tell the story of the European Union for kids.

Another competition announced as part of the festival was the competition for the best photo titled “European Neighbourhood”. The organizers left it to the participants to decide what having Europe as a neighbor means. The jury, consisting of twelve members including two professional photographers, had to select from 137 submitted pictures and gave the victory to the work by Vitali Brazouski “Paris” who had managed to see a bit of Europe in his native Belarus. The winner expressed his hope that competitions with titles like “European Neighbourhood” would soon become obsolete, as Belarus will finally become a real part of Europe. The winner received a trip to Brussels where he will be able to make even more interesting photographs.

Works of the finalists of both competitions are available here: photo competition and children’s painting competition.
“Seeing the huge demand and enthusiasm for the festival this year we are now planning to make it an annual event. We are also looking into expanding the geography of the project within Belarus as well as outside its borders”, - says Sviatlana Zinkevich, director of the “Office for European Expertise and Communication” in Minsk.
During the seven days of the festival we have kept a diary with short reports and pictures from the events. All the entries can be found on the websites of the organizers and our partners.

The festival was organized by: “Office for Democratic Belarus” (Brussels, Belgium), “Office for European Expertise and Communication” (Minsk, Belarus), youth education center “Fialta”, Belarusian Institute for the Strategic Studies (Vilnius, Lithuania).
The festival was supported by partners: “Liberal Club” (Minsk), “Center “Third Sector”” (Hrodna), “Homel Democratic Forum” (Homel), portal “New Europe” (Minsk), “New Faces” (Belarus), “Office for Promotion of Initiatives“, information partner – tut.by

A photo report from the closing ceremony of the exhibition can be found at this link