« The time will come when nations on the hopscotch board of the universe will depend as closely on each other as the organs of one body, unified in its structure. Filled to bursting with machines, will the brain still be able to safeguard the existence of our thin rivulet of dream and escape ? Humanity marches at a sleepwalker’s pacetoward murderous mines, led on by the inventors’ song »
(René Char, Furor and Mystery, tr.Mary Ann Caws/ NANCY kine, 2010°
image @copyright Théâtre Royal du Peruchet
At our last Council meeting in Bali at the end of April 2023, we spoke of desire, enthusiasm and inspiration. We spoke of vision, solidarity and dynamism. We called for breath and spirit for journeys, trajectories, lines that open up new landscapes. Crossings are much more than crossings, they are promises that cast glimmers and more than glimmers, new days. There are no certainties, just the change needed to see what we see differently, to create and discover new forms, a lucid material, a rustling horizon.
The UNIMA centres are the driving forces of UNIMA, which increase the vision of our organisation tenfold when national interests exceed their own. UNIMA international has often had to deal with this question of trust, but also with this question of commitment to this or that event, or even more to the values of our organisation and its longer-term vision. What is UNIMA for? The national centres cannot exist without UNIMA International, which proposes a vision and not just one, two or three projects of interest to a few. UNIMA has always wanted to be more than a symbol, but a dynamic of actions and words (a semiology) to give substance to projects that give meaning (both a pragmatics and a semiotics). Protocol invites, and status frames. But what are we talking about? asks the ingenuous observer and the artist convinced of the necessity of art. How can an international arts organisation not work with the international, with its members, its centres and its many unsuspected cultures?
How can an organisation only talk about itself? And not put the effervescence of artists and the desire for new worlds at the heart of its activities? Why are borders so present? How can we not support the initiatives of our members and centres? Does every organisation simply reproduce an apparatus of power and control for the few? Why don’t we have enough resources? Seeking answers also means proposing something new, new ways of operating, such as a different form of governance from the one previously proposed, which no longer seems suited to the challenges we face.
Thinking about UNIMA also means thinking about its multiplicity and proposing a better representation of all the centres and all the points of view which, in a way, all ask for more UNIMA and which, all, believe that our organisation makes the difference. To speak of UNIMA is also to think international and cooperation for the puppetry arts, and even more than to speak of cooperation, but above all to speak of collaboration and projects, which await and will be realised through the dynamics of international UNIMA with the national centres. Thinking and proposing a new Unima means proposing a new solidarity for the centres, which will no longer be blocked by a continental view of dialogue, but which will be open to exchanges beyond continents and commissions, with the centres and members who propose projects and which UNIMA international will support and develop. Thinking about UNIMA also means acting on the ground through regional and international projects. The Executive Committee, like the Board, as well as the General Secretary and the President, have a role to play as catalysts and relays, as well as proposers, supporters and developers.
Not only do we want to see an active “decentralisation” of centres that come together for better communication, but also that come together around common projects. But we also want transcontinental collaboration, which could involve groups of 5 or 6 centres working on projects involving exchanges of artists and shows, residencies, research, cooperation between festivals, projects to bring together centres and the members who carry out these exchange projects. From then on, the decentralisation that we hope for, and in the most unrealistic utopia yet probable, will lead to the creation of regional international groups (as is the case with the Unima Nordic group and the South-East Asia group), but also to regional international centres across the world, and also to cross-continental international collaborations between centres. This second part of UNIMA’s internationalisation dynamic could be called the UNIMA ECCENTRIC’ @project, which is both essential and pragmatic. This multiple and transversal project of UNIMA International is the development of the collaboration and potential of UNIMA International “with” the centres and members, and of the members and centres “with” UNMA International. This potential and this development affect all the dynamics of the UNIMA International commissions with the centres and members, whether they be research, education, workshops, festivals, therapeutic projects, residency projects, dramaturgies, staging, schools, heritage, new creations, exhibitions, books, etc. UNIMA is not only networking, but also networks of creativity, of projects and exchanges of projects. UNIMA is the World Organisation for the puppetry arts.
For the full development of this proposal, UNIMA must formulate the search for means and resources. The accepted proposal of the “associated members”, members who address groups, companies, institutions, foundations, Museums, festivals, magazines, cultural centres and other actors ONG or not on the ground of the socio-cultural development, the research, the education and the culture, corresponds to the emancipation of our international organization of any preeminence, for a bigger opening and a bigger interconnection with the worlds of the cultural actors of the puppets and the actors of the international civil society. This emancipation will be done in all independence of the States and the particular interests for a bigger representativeness and for a bigger relevance of our organization, by making us at the same time closer to the actors of the worlds of the puppet and by making stronger our organization and the future projects in its professionalization and its transversality in the whole of the commissions and the values, that the UNIMA promotes, as also in the realization of the project ECCENTRIC’ mentioned above. Many collective members will no longer benefit from the status of individual members, but rather from the new status of “associate members”. This new financial contribution reflects greater fairness in terms of participation, but also support for the development of finances for more projects, more professionalisation and more communication. I would like to thank you in advance for your understanding.
I wish you a wonderful season of festivities, festivals, creativity and encounters!
General Secretary of UNIMA