What is the function of art in a time of crisis? Can art and social responsibilities be combined together to create new forms of expression and policies? How is art being used to address the current crises in our world today? Perhaps one of the most pressing challenges that we face today is the issue of refugees. The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates that there are over 20 million refugees in the world due to various conflicts and instances of persecution.1 They arrive in waves, literally washing up on Europe’s shores in rickety boats unfit for the voyage, and then must travel overland as best as they can to countries that will have them. In 2015, Germany accepted over 1.1 million refugees and plans to accept more in the coming years.2 In Morocco, the waves of migrants and refugees from other African nations caused His Majesty, Mohammed VI, to call for a formal migration policy in 2013.3 We believe that art can help us face the problems that arise out of these various political, religious, and economic crises. By bringing an international group of artists together here in Fez on 12-15 January 2017, we will create a forum for sharing art, encourage cross-collaboration across geographical borders, and discussing positions on the role of art in the time of crisis.
The city of Fez is a melting pot of cultures, languages, ideas and arts. The spiritual homeland of medieval intellectuals such as Leo Africanus, Ibn Khaldun, and Ibn Battuta, its streets preserve the stories of some of the greatest thinkers and creative minds in history.
The location of Fez is important for the city represents the marriage of numerous peoples, histories, and cultures over time, including those between Europe and North Africa. As such, the city of Fez is a bridge between the East and the West, between the Islamic World and Europe.
Guest of honor : GERMANY
As it currently stands, Germany and Morocco are partners on the issue of asylum and international refugee rights, a partnership that began in 2015 and will continue into 2017.
Our reasons for designating Germany as our guest of honor during the 2nd International Artist Gathering--Fez are many, but two reasons in particular stand out. First, c. Its capital, Berlin, attracts artists from all over the world to study art, to work with one another, and to live in a dynamic city. Second, Germany is the main European country dealing with the issues of refugees and how best to integrate them into a new society, culture, and country. In contrast to many of its neighbors, Germany accepted a record number of refugees in 2015 and plans to keep its borders open to other asylum seekers. While the challenges of social and cultural integration are numerous, the arrival of refugees presents opportunities for economic growth. In an article published on 2 September 2016, the German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that more than 20,000 additional teachers are needed in the coming years to meet the educational needs of refugees, and that the 2018 budget for new subsidised housing construction was increased to 1.5 billion euros.