ASSITEJ Serbia looking at this year’s gathering through a different lens

Published on 17 May 2022

As the host of the next ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering in 2023, the ASSITEJ Serbia team are looking at this year’s gathering through an additional lens.

“We’re attending the full festival including our meeting with the executive committee of ASSITEJ International because we are the next host of the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering… We have a year or so to prepare; we’re taking the torch from Helsingborg to Novi Sad and Belgrade,” says ASSITEJ Serbia Board Member Tatjana Nikolić and her delegation.

“We’re taking the torch from Helsingborg to Novi Sad and Belgrade”

Tatjana Nikolić, ASSITEJ Serbia Board Member

This is the first time the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering will take place in the Balkans. “We’re one of the founders of ASSITEJ International since 1965 and under the name of Yugoslavia and then after the break of the country in the 90s we joined as ASSITEJ Serbia in 2003, and have been a very active member of the international community ever since,” adds Nikolić.

To this end, Nikolić and her team will be following as many programmes as possible, including performances, seminars, meetings, artistic encounters and so on, while keeping in mind that they will be hosting the next gathering.  “We’re also looking at this year’s event from the organisational, networking and advocacy perspective, because for us, it’s important to improve the position of theatre for young audiences in our local, national, regional scenes and policies as well, so we’re also reading between the lines,” explains Nikolić.

As a Research Assistant, Teaching Associate and PhD candidate in the field of Cultural Management and Policy at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, University of Arts in Belgrade, Nikolić is personally interested in research, academic, seminar and educational programmes that will be taking place at the festival such as the ITYARN.

Pinned as the first performing arts festival in almost two years that will be held live in its entirety on the ground, Nikolić reflects on the long break in any kind of cultural gathering due to the Covid Pandemic which in her eyes is being prolonged due to the current geopolitical situation in Europe.

“If we knew that it’s the end of the pandemic and that the world is back to normal again, it could have been a full kick off, but since the global situation or the European situation so to say is very unstable from another angle now, and very unpredictable in a way, I don’t think we are yet, unfortunately, in full power on yet.  Covid hasn’t completely gone… and on the other hand, with the geopolitical safety at the moment, very near by, if I may say, I don’t think we can be fully relaxed and be only focused on artistic production, I don’t think we can allow ourselves that fully.

Melissa Hekkers is a freelance journalist and author.
Her most recent book, Amir’s Blue Elephant, is a creative non-fiction based on her experiences working with refugees, in Lesvos, Greece. In 2018, she launched My Cyprus Mandala, an interactive educational book series on the natural and cultural heritage of Cyprus. In 2007, she published her first children’s book ‘Crocodile’, which won the Cyprus State Illustration Award. Her second children’s book Flying across Red Skies (2012) was nominated for the Cyprus State Literary award. Her third children’s book ‘Pupa’ (2014) was adapted as a theatre play in 2019.