On January 27, the European Green Party (EGP), also known as the European Greens, hosted their New Years’ Reception virtually. It was traditionally held in Brussels. This year the event was mainly dedicated to culture due to its significant role during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the Covid-19 outbreak threatened artists’ and creators’ futures, those same artists were the ones who often helped us feel connected and inspired throughout the difficult times by providing entertainment during quarantine times.
Michał Suchora, a Polish activist, hosted the event and was responsible for the transition between each performance and speech. EGP co-Chairs Evelyne Huytebroeck and Thomas Waitz opened the reception. Both speakers regretted the unprecedented situation of 2020 and remembered the importance of staying hopeful for a better 2021.
Evelyne Huytebroeck highlighted the “urgent need to move towards a more ecological and democratic society based on solidarity” in her speech. Thomas Waitz also focused on the event’s theme: culture. “We need artists… We owe it to the artists to finally introduce proper social security and a minimum pay”, said Waitz. The co-Chair also encourages us to support the culture sector as much as possible to make sure we still have artists when the pandemic is over.
The event was centred around experimental musician Jacek “Budyń” Szymkiewicz and butoh dancer TO-EN. Both Polish artists delivered outstanding performances even in the online environment. In the interview with Suchora, before his performance, Jacek Szymkiewicz spoke about how the music industry had no opportunity or support during the last year. “I think that there were certain people in our industry that managed to get some support, but many artists and I were just not supported at all,” said the experimental musician. In response, the European Greens gave special thanks to the Green family fund donors who supported the artists and made things easier for them.
Bénédicte Linard, Vice-President of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and Minister of Children, Health, Media, Culture and Women’s Rights was also a guest at the event. In her speech, Linard stayed optimistic for the future and highlighted the importance of universal access to culture, especially during times of crisis.
The last speaker in the reception was Romeo Franz, a member of the European Parliament and vice-chair of the Committee on Culture and Education. In his speech, he remembered how badly the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the arts and how much we need to help those artists affected by it. “We the Greens want to be the voice for the cultural sector, and we won’t leave cultural workers behind,” concluded the vice-chair of the Committee on Culture and Education.
Overall, the reception reinforced the importance of protecting artists and cultural workers as well as providing equal access to culture now more than ever. “Artists will help us cope with the consequences of the crisis, create new narratives that bring us together, and imagine the world of tomorrow. European culture will contribute to our collective recovery, and thus must be given the necessary financial support” states the Europeans Greens official website.
The event is available on Youtube in both English and Polish.