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Czech Republic: "Ghettofest" street festival to show the real face of the "ghetto"

Brno, 30.4.2012 20:03, (ROMEA)

A new festival called "Ghettofest" will open on 2 June in the neighborhood of Brno around Bratislavská street, which is mainly inhabited by Romani people and the socially vulnerable. The festival will provide a different view of these places, which are usually connected with many stereotypes. The aim of the event is to open up the "ghetto", a concept laden with prejudice, to other residents of Brno and draw attention to it, festival organizers told journalists today.

"We want to draw attention to the fact that Czech and Romani people live alongside one another here along with members of other nationalities like the Ukrainians and Vietnamese," said Alica Heráková, the festival's PR manager. She said the festival will offer entertainment, a space to meet others, and will open up discussion about the future of the locality.

The festival program includes several concerts and theatrical performances. For example, the bands Čankišou and Gulo čar (who come from what is often called the "Bronx" of Brno) will play on Bratislavská street. The program also includes an artistic workshop for children and an expert debate on the future of the neighborhood at the Museum of Romani Culture. Organizers will also unveil a mural on the wall of the former penitentiary in Soudní street, designed by a Brno-based street artist named Timo.

The festival has chosen the "Angel of Hope" as its symbol, expressing hope for better coexistence and mutual understanding. There are a total of 22 such angels and people will be able to find them at various locations on the streets of Brno throughout the month of May. "Young artists from Brno and children from the locality have designed and produced them for Ghettofest," said Heráková.

The festival is organized by the Tripitaka civic association. "Ghettofest is a new concept for the issue of coexistence, in which we believe," said the founder of Tripitaka, Zdeněk Raiser. In his view the event could be repeated in years to come and could expand into other localities as well.

Tripitaka is also organizing a project called "First Success" (První úspěch) for people aged 26 and younger who have grown up without their biological parents. For half a year they will be employed at the Experimental Theater Center as actors, designing performances under the direction of a professional director, dramatist and playwright. Tripitaka is also designing a project for a textile design center where young Romani mothers can work as seamstresses.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Radka Steklá, ras, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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