Chair of the ERIAC Board, Zeljko Jovanovic and ERIAC Executive Director, Timea Junghaus, have convened an emergency Extraordinary General Assembly in response to the global Covid19 pandemic, which took place online on March 31. 2020.
In the invitation letter they argued:
“We see that many of our countries are deploying unprecedented emergency tactics, and a warlike language. Simultaneously we observe the weakening of public health, labor and economic systems, putting under threat the ´European project` that has once catalyzed the establishment of our ERIAC.
We know from history and from our own subjective experience that our Roma communities, settlements and residential areas are the first to suffer in times of any crisis situation, and we also feel that the present Covid pandemic is something we cannot be prepared for. Our lives, strategies, plans and activities have never been effected by such unpredictable circumstances and uncertainties. (…)
In such times culture and the arts are first to be marginalized – arts and culture budgets will be cut, art will be neglected and the significance of culture´s potential in keeping people hopeful and human is often forgotten and diminished. We – the ERIAC members and staff – know that Roma arts and culture is even more severely hit than other European national cultures, and minority culture will not be kept on the agenda and minds if we do not make a significant effort from the beginning to keep our culture alive. We have to fight the scapegoating and racism towards our people, but also of public discourse and media. Our transnational unity and solidarity will be the greatest asset in this struggle. Our culture will be the only positive public discourse about our people in the coming weeks and perhaps months. Thus, Roma arts and culture is more important than ever: it is our Roma pedagogy to the world about our hope and humanity, our resilience, survival and planetary entanglement.”
Ahead of the General Assembly, the ERIAC management has released a ERIAC Questionnaire on the impact of COVID-19 on Roma arts and culture, to assess the impact of COVID-19 on Roma culture and provide the basis for the re-direction of ERIAC’s future programming and activities, in order to best serve its community and fulfill its statutory mission.
The General Assembly brought together almost 50 participants from across the world, among the ERIAC Board members, Barvalipe Academy members, associate members and staff.
ERIAC Extraordinary General Assembly minutes