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This blog is inspired by the Arts-in-Conflict program of the Treaty of Utrecht foundation. This foundation is preparing the festive tercentennial of the historical peace treaty of the same name.
The Treaty of Utrecht was concluded on 11 April 1713 and marked a critical moment in the history of Europe and Utrecht. The Treaty of Utrecht brought an end to a series of devastating wars that had claimed many millions of lives over a period of two centuries. The balance of power between major nations was re-established in Europe itself and in North and South America. Thus in 1713 Utrecht briefly served as a ‘UN headquarters’. The Treaty of Utrecht is regarded as an important event on the way to European cooperation and conflict management as these exist in the European Union and the United Nations today. During the negotiations, all manner of festivities and cultural events were held, contributing to a spirit of congeniality and to the success of the diplomatic process. According to historians, the peace accord represented “a brilliant, worldwide settlement”.
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In 1713, art and culture, encounter and dialogue between different cultures made a positive contribution to the realization of a European peace whose impact was felt the world over. The long period of peace that followed led to immense cultural and economic growth in Europe. Today we are picking up the thread of the international role that Utrecht played in 1713. In 2013, Utrecht will once again take centre stage as a platform for culture and a partner and host for Europe. The overarching theme will be the social role of art and culture.
Within that theme the program Arts-in-conflict pays special attention to those artists and cultural rebels who work in [post] conflict zones. This blog wants to highlight their work, and the worlds in which they undertake their efforts. This blog, than, wants to look around in the field of power of culture and arts in connecting people.
Arts never stopped a war. But arts gave and continue to give people hope. Hope to re-establish links with their past, with the outside world, with their future. Perhaps arts and cultural acts are no big fires burning up, but steadily burning flames, serving as eternal gatekeepers of that cherished emotion: hope.