Interview with Banda Internationale: 2017 Winner

Our winners from last year, Banda Internationale, spoke with us about their work since receiving the award and the obligations of a cohesive society.

What’s next for you? What projects are coming up next?

Following a somewhat surprising, yet ultimately positive sponsor change, we will be continuing our project work with children and teenagers. In addition to the prize money from The Power of the Arts, we recently received funding confirmation from the State of Saxony, such that over the next two years we will be able to perform more than 40 workshops and a dozen concerts with Banda Internationale at schools and youth centers, as well as weekly rehearsals for unaccompanied refugee minors and instrumental instruction for nearly 20 children per week.

The principal objective continues to be the integration and equitable inclusion for teenagers with and without a migration background in Saxony. For us, this is fundamentally about portraying education and inclusion as positive categories in coexistence and our society, rendering them tangible in real life. Segregation and separation have to be identified as a process for which there is no room in a cohesive society.

We view integration to be a process for the whole of society that must call upon people with a migration background and the social majority alike to pursue active collaboration in shaping society. Accordingly, another one of the goals to our project for the next two years, “House of Music,” is to reinforce the social cohesion among young people in Saxony’s society. The funds from The Power of the Arts are being fully dedicated to that endeavor.

What wish were you able to fulfill with the award? How has your project changed because of it?

The award from The Power of the Arts not only provided us with encouragement to get involved in intercultural education and pedagogical work and made us more independent from institutional and state funding, it certainly also encouraged those we look to for support to continue sponsoring us.

Which of your co-participants has left the biggest impression on you?

That isn’t so easy for us to answer. We primarily spent the evening with the participants from the project LABEL M, with whom exchanged addresses and actually planned to visit each other. That hasn’t happened yet, but we are confident we’ll remain in contact. The project Un-Label left a deep impression on us through its inclusive naturalness and levity, especially considering several of us deal with inclusion professionally on a daily basis. We also felt an artistic proximity to *foundationClass and the notion of first focusing on the inner values of a person rather than on origin or physical disability is probably what connects all of the nominated projects the best.

Why did you apply to The Power of the Arts? Why would you recommend to other initiatives that they do the same?

We occasionally apply for prizes and do so for a rather simple reason: unfortunately, the current media coverage is too often dominated by depressing, negative images and hate. This could give the New Right the opportunity to regain enough influence in Germany in order to shake up the current, fundamental consensus in civil society. We cannot allow this to take place and must not only contradict, but also get our own images, our own convictions, and our own stories out there. Social acknowledgment also represents an adjustment and anchoring of the moral corner stones – without wanting to seem pretentious here – shining the spotlight on positive stories of migrants, on positive energetic coexistence can only be in the interest of all who subscribe to democracy. To that end, unfortunately, we have to reconquer some of the imagery.