Welcome to WE-Hope, a project connecting people through memories and experiences of migration and surviving the trauma of war, in Europe and beyond its borders. We use heritage, art and technology to celebrate our common values.
WE-Hope promotes social inclusion in Europe. Funded by Creative Europe, it is indeed a project about hope. Its full title is ‘Out of War Experiences, Hope for the Future’. It is an exciting collaboration of six partners and three associate partners in Italy, Greece, Belgium, France and the UK. The partners are: National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and Elleniki Trapeza Anamniseon (Greek Bank of Memories) in Greece; Banca della Memoria in Italy; Michael Culture Association (MCA) in France and Belgium; and Threshold Studios and the University of Lincoln in the UK. Our associate partners are the Manchester Refugee Support Network in the UK, and Laboratorio Lapsus and Associazione D+ in Italy. The University of Lincoln is leading this project.
Stakes of the project
WE-Hope originally planned to bring together the stories of survivors of war fought long ago on European soil, with those who experienced more recent conflicts, resulting in large numbers of people seeking safety in Europe. Just as were getting started, however, the coronavirus pandemic overwhelmed our societies. So we are now broadening our range of stories of survival, to examine how groups such as the very elderly and ethnic minorities have experienced this most recent trauma. We want to make invisible stories visible by promoting the values of a common heritage of tolerance, solidarity, inclusion and mutual respect.
A moritat singer in Basell depicted in 1356, Hieronymus Hess (1799–1850)
We are now entering the first phase of this three-year project: collecting testimonies. Memoro is leading this phase, while our technical partner, NTUA, is building a digital archive to host the testimonies.
Threshold will lead the second phase, starting later in 2020, to commission an artist (or perhaps group of artists) to design and create an artwork inspired by the stories in the digital archive. This artwork may be physical or digital and will be a contemporary re-working of the old cantastoria. Italian for ‘story singer’, this popular artform brought together performance and images in many European countries elsewhere long ago; it has largely died out now. We look forward to seeing how it can be interpreted today.
The third and final phase, which MCA will lead until the end of the project in October 2022, will be a programme of activities across Europe. We want the WE-Hope version of cantastoria to help change hearts and minds about how those who call Europe ‘home’ have overcome suffering, past and present, and inspire us all to look forward to a hopeful future together.