A Manifesto of Social and Personal Responsibility: It Is Up to Us to Choose What We Lose and What We Save During the Pandemic
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” (Elie Wiesel)
The most treasured things in life are precisely the ones we take for granted. We don’t know how to appreciate them, to enjoy them, or see their value until they’re gone.
In 2020, health, love, harmony, emotion, beauty not only that no longer seem to come to us naturally, but they are more fragile and vulnerable than ever. With our existence at stake, we follow fretfully the immediate and the quantifiable yet have no longer eyes for the ineffable that makes the very fabric of our lives.
As the COVID-19 crisis is claiming lives and wreaking havoc on the global society and economy, it’s difficult for us to see how the pandemic grinds the arts and culture, although, in normal times we nourish our spirit with their beauty.
Consumed with physical survival, we do not see the agony of the creative scene. The Americans for the Arts organization estimates a direct financial loss of more than $ 9.1 billion for the arts as of July 13, with an addition of more than $ 10.4 billion in event-related spending by arts audiences at local businesses. In the EU, Eurostat estimates that by the end of the year, more than 7.3 million jobs in the creative and cultural sectors will be affected, raising the issue of preserving “at all costs” Europe’s artistic and cultural values. In Romania, the subject of the existential threat that art and artists face today has not generated any concerted reaction or cohesion. Everyone gets by – in the long historical tradition – as best they can.
Meanwhile, with each day that passes in fear, confused rebellion, and inattention, we lose something precious. We lose emotion, intimacy, art, sparkle, and inspiration. We lose freedom, the audacity to dream, the courage to follow our dreams, energy, music, beauty.
No doubt we will someday look back to this unknown, unexpected, unwanted, insecure, and troubled time, in which we risked what was most fragile and vulnerable in our lives to survive. We will reflect on the way we led through it and the way it transformed us. We will continue to live with those who we have become at the other end of this challenge. And it’s up to us to tell the difference between what we lost and what we saved in this trial.
For Romanians – artists, musicians, or the general public – the George Enescu’s legacy and everything that the Festival and Competition which bears his name represents today in the world are an identity landmark, a restoration of dignity, a defining emotion. The George Enescu International Festival and Competition, the artists, the organizers, the people behind the scenes, the press and the public who made it possible every time, have met in the past with fear, censorship and prohibitions, social disorder, financial scarcity, or with the prospect of dissolution.
After 1989, the Enescu Festival has transformed from a propaganda tool created by the Communist Party in 1958, into one of the most appreciated events of its genre in the world. The Festival is listed in the Top 3, and the Enescu Competition in the Top 5 internationally. The transformation did not come easily – it has a tumultuous history. Nevertheless, despite the turmoil, the organization of the Enescu Festival and Competition according to its calendar remained a constant, spiritual standard, even in the darkest moments.
September 1991: Miners were called to Bucharest to overthrow the government – a shock to the young Romanian democracy. The Enescu Festival continued to bring music and beauty to the concert halls. 2009, in a full financial crisis – the Enescu Festival and Competition survived the severe cutting of funds. 2013 – The government reduced funding by 30%, and since then we’ve had to separate the Competition from the Festival and turn to more private sponsors so as not to lessen the value of the Event. The Competition reinvented with a well-deserved new personality, being organized independently in alternate years with the Festival.
Through all the adversity, it has always prevailed the intrinsic strength of the Enescu Festival, as well as those who give it life; the music, the spirit, and the values of George Enescu, whom we promote; its adaptability, the support of the public, the responsibility we bear for our great composer’s heritage and life-model, for spectators and artists, as well as for those to whom we leave as heritage this everlasting source of beauty.
Because music is beauty in life. Music does not stop for fear or loneliness. Music brings us closer when life keeps us apart, creating bridges of solidarity immune to geography, space, or time. This is why now when the pandemic threatens the Enescu Competition and Festival, we are moving forward wholeheartedly. “Music starts from the heart and speaks to the heart”, as George Enescu said.
Music Must Go On
Our message to you – persons of culture, artists, musicians, opinion leaders, spectators, music lovers, and life lovers – is that in times of crisis, we all have the responsibility to adapt gracefully, to act for life to continue, while keeping room in our lives for beauty and plans and dreams, and their realization.
We – the George Enescu Festival and Competition – preserve the beauty created by music, talent, dedication, work, honesty, and the entire ineffable universe that great artists bestowed us with, imparting inestimable value to humanity. And we carry on, this time online.
Join the 2020 Enescu Competition that takes place this year ONLINE with the message Beauty in life!
Ponder a self-reflection exercise and share with us – what is that beauty that you would like to hold on to, in your life post-pandemic? What would you save, at any cost, from what is beauty in your life?
Tell the story publicly, inspire those who follow you, spread beauty during the pandemic through your story and, if you want, accompany it with the music of dreams-fulfilled at the Enescu Competition.
Bucharest, August 2020 | George Enescu International Festival and Competition