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PolskaÉire 2015 FestivalAnna-Maria BakAnna-Maria Bak

Posted 21/03/2015

By Anna-Maria Bak

To champion the diversity that Polish people bring to Ireland, PolskaÉire 2015 has been established as a nationwide festival to coincide with the UEFA Republic of Ireland vs. Poland qualifier on the 29th of March.

This initiative is led by Irish Minister of State for New Communities, Culture and Equality, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin T.D. (Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Department of Justice and Equality), the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Dublin and the Football Association of Ireland. The festival is supported by Dublin City Council and other local authorities, along with many Polish organisations and cultural, community and sporting groups across the country.

It is estimated that there are presently 150,000 Polish citizens living in the Republic of Ireland resulting in Polish becoming the second most widely spoken language on the island. Throughout the week there will be cultural and sporting events for everyone to take part.

Festiwal PolskaÉire2015 ma na celu pokazanie wkładu żyjących tu Polaków do kulturowej różnorodności Irlandii. W tym roku Festiwal zbiega się w czasie z meczem piłki nożnej, który planowany jest na 29 marca w ramach eliminacji UEFA.

Dane szacunkowe mówią o 150 tysiącach obywateli polskich mieszkających w Irlandii, w wyniku czego język polski stał się drugim najczęściej używanym językiem na wyspie. Przez cały tydzień będą się odbywać imprezy kulturalne i sportowe, w których udział mogą wziąć wszyscy zainteresowani.



AFGHANISTAN: the mirror is broken, the image remains

Posted 15/03/2015

By Randall Calvin & Guadalupe del Olmo

EU Spectator caught up with Painter Artist-Designer Hachem Barakzaï at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

We were very impressed with the wonderful exhibition of his work, and what made it even more interesting was the political backdrop - given the fact that he is a political refugee from Afghanistan.

As described in the title of the expo "Afghanistan: the mirror is broken, the image remains," Afghanistan, far from being a land of war and conflicts, it is a country whose riches include its past civilizations, its ancient cultural heritage, and that is what Hachem Barakzaï wants to show through his paintings.

Self-determination, the right of peoples to choose their own destiny, is a principle of international law according to which every nation has a free and sovereign choice in defining the form of its political regime, without any foreign influence. This is a collective right that can only be exercised by a people as such.

Afghanistan is a great nation, whose past is steeped in ancient history and civilizations.

Its population is welcoming, hospitable, friendly and respectful, as one would expect from a country with a five thousand year history.

Afghans will know how to handle their own future, provided they are allowed to choose their own destiny.

Man was born free, and must be able to live free…

Since his childhood he has had a passion for music, poetry and painting. And it is through painting that he decided to express his love for his country, "my Afghanistan," in order to show its true face despite the sadness of a devastating war for more than three decades now.

Indeed, his first oil painting was done on his arrival in Pakistan as a political refugee, he was thirteen at the time.

Later on, when his family chose France as a haven, he did his first black and white portrait: it showed the face of an Afghan nomad. This sketch brought him notoriety, beyond anything he could have hoped for... Still, when his family and friends pressed him to study fine arts, it was obvious to him that Afghanistan didn't need painters so much as political activists.

What he had in mind was a career in politics, in order to help his country.

Years went by, and he still wasn't sure if he could go back to Afghanistan for good. Then he decided to be active in a different way, from France, in order to help save and promote the name of Afghanistan, and its noble past as a glorious crossroads of civilizations in central Asia.

So, through his paintings and drawings, he chose to present his country and its beautiful, courageous and dignified people, its rich culture, magnificent, colourful landscapes, multifaceted reality, and numerous historical monuments. In this he hopes to convey all the human tenderness Afghanistan offers.

Far from being a land of war and conflicts, Afghanistan is a country whose riches include its past civilizations, its ancient cultural heritage: this is what he wants to show through his paintings.

Naturally, though he was happy to find in France the freedom he was denied in Afghanistan, the teenager he was then suffered from being an exile: “I felt like a bud ripped from the bough. That was when I fully understood the meaning of the word freedom,” Hachem said.

The life of the Afghan nomads, the main theme of his paintings — which are being shown all over the world - is the life of free men.

Their way of life is rooted in a philosophy of independence and liberty. They are proud people, yet they have chosen to live the simple life. They are free people... free to go wherever they choose.

For the Afghan people, who thirst for "liberty and independence," these words are heavy with meaning and carry a fervent demand:

Born free, a man must live free...

And freedom is priceless...


By Randall Calvin and Guadalupe del Olmo



European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage

Record outreach and participation

Posted 08/03/2015

2015 has seen a huge number of applications for the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards. The prize highlights the best achievements in the care of Europe's precious cultural heritage.

This year, a total of 270 applications have been received, submitted by both organisations and individuals. Applications came in from a total of 33 countries, the largest number since the award's creation in 2002. The prize is backed by Creative Europe, the EU's programme to support the European cultural and audio-visual sectors.

The prizes on offer are divided into four categories: conservation, research, dedicated service to heritage conservation and education, training and awareness-raising projects in the heritage sector.

Conservation projects are strongly represented among this year's applications, with 132 projects submitted. 78 applications were received concerning and education, training and awareness-raising projects in cultural heritage. For the other categories, 39 research and digitisation projects were submitted and there are 21 potential awardees for dedicated service to the heritage sector.

Where applications came from

What is most impressive this time around, however, is the geographical span of the applications received. The number of applications that came in from Central and Eastern Europe increased massively; with projects from Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, among others, all now under consideration for the prizes.

Italy is home to the greatest number of applications at 49, closely followed by Spain at 41. Next comes the United Kingdom, with 19 projects potentially up for awards.

The final number of winners could be as high as 30 and these will be announced jointly by the European Commission and Europa Nostra in mid-April.

Awards juries will decide which projects will be acknowledged as having accomplished the most significant and remarkable work in the service of Europe's cultural heritage.

Award ceremony 11 June

A high-profile ceremony will be held on 11 June at the Olso City Hall, Norway, for the winners. The ceremony will include an artistic performance and heritage professionals, volunteers and support from across Europe will be among the invitees.

The President of Europa Nostra, Maestro Plácido Domingo, and the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, will present the awards on the night. A Public Choice Award, decided by an online poll, and the 7 Grand Prix laureates will also be announced at the ceremony.



Rock & Roll – On the road

Posted 01/03/2015

By Randall Calvin & Guadalupe del Olmo

EU Spectator magazine caught up with TAO, the one and only "rock writer" who plays with his band aboard the fabulous TAO Love Bus, bringing on the road the real- Spirit of Rock! We interviewed him and the crew on Place Luxembourg at the doorstep of the European Parliament Brussels.

So who is this Tao? See the video.

More than 800 concerts in more than 600 Italian cities, a European Tour in 2012, seven  years of never-ending tour, exhibitions at the most important Italian venues like Motor Show, I.M.D Sanremo, MEI, Rolling Stone magazine, Hiroshima Mon Amour,Hard Rock Cafè, Rock ‘n’ Music Planet, Bikerfest, press reviews on the most important Italian newspapers, TV shows at the Italian channels Rai Uno, Rai Due, Rai Tre, Italia 1, Canale 5, La 7, Sky and various regional TV shows: all this is the “TAO Love Bus Experience”: TAO Concert  brings the music to the people!

TAO is a songwriter with five albums published – “Forlìverpool” (2005), “L’ultimo James Dean (2007), “Love Bus/Love Burns” (2010), “Spirit of Rock” (2012) and “Between Hope and Desperation” (2014) Producer and inventor of the revolutionary project TAO Love Bus Experience, that is to say the first rock ‘n’ roll motion tour on board of TAO Love Bus, a Volkswagen van of the ’70 “hippie style” (with powerful audio equipment), inside which TAO and his band give life to a real powerful concert.

TAO Love Bus Experience is a music project to help revive the atmosphere, the spirit and emotions of the roaring rocking years. But, most of all is to present, without any filters, the words and music of TAO.

TAO LOVE BUS is a functional structure:

1. stage-boxit contains TAO and his band, all the equipment, a mixer and a sound-engineer (who is also the bus driver), diffusion equipment set on the roof and electrical current generator. A rock ‘n’ roll room running on four wheels...

2. radio-poster: either in movement or parked it advertises itself as well as the event that will take place.

3. store: it contains records, T-shirts and TAO’s gadgets merchandising.

4. a work of art: the magnificent graffiti conceived by Marco Fiori and Patty Pey bring us back to the psychedelic cartoons of the Yellow Submarine and in the San Francisco of the Flower Power era!

Usually, every performance in one city takes place twice daily, in the afternoon TAO Love Bus goes round the most important streets - with the concert in movement – and stops in the places (streets and squares) with the majority of people gathered– and then the concert. At night the bus comes to a stop for the main concert, in popular night spots where a lot of people gathers, usually near clubs and festivals.

During the show, TAO and his band, sitting in the bus and full of energy, play songs taken from the four albums of TAO – “Forlìverpool”, “L’ultimo James Dean”, “Love Bus/Love Burns”, “Spirit of Rock”, Between Hope and Desperation” and also songs taken from the great successes of the beat generation and rock ‘n roll (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Creedence, Animals, David Bowie, Lou Reed,  and even Johnny Cash).


By Randall Calvin & Guadalupe del Olmo