Between Christmas and New Year, it’s customary to slow down, especially in those parts of the world where it is also midwinter. The twelve days of Christmas are a kind of human hibernation, a time of rest and recovery, and building strength for trials to come. Like other festivals, the moment is marked through cultural participation, and the continuous evolution of tradition. For several years now, people in Šančiai (a historic suburb of Kaunas, Lithuania) have been using art to strengthen the community and affirm local voice and identity at a time of change. A couple of days ago, they shared a first performance of their community opera as ‘a work in progress’. (The opera was the focus of the community art summer school I contributed to in June, and you can watch some of the rehearsals online.
The four principal characters, Antanas, Gelelis, Rosalia and Frane represent aspects of the district’s past at a time of political and social change. Here are a few photos by Darius Petrulis that I’ve just been sent: there are more in this news article. In her email, Vita Gelūnienė says that the ‘weather was miserable, the performance – magnificent‘. It would have been wonderful to be there, but knowing that it happened is enough. All over Europe, all over the world, people make community art in celebration and common purpose. Their work is a source of hope for many, and sharing these images seems a good way to wish readers a happy, peaceful and creative new year.