The 31st UNESCO-International Theatre Institute world congress and associated events will start on Tuesday, May 17 with the expected participation of 100 countries, putting the Philippines on center stage for the first time since 1948.
The world congress will have several components focused on the theme: From Ancestral Roots to New Routes of Artistic Expression—Mobilizing Cultural Diversity to Achieve the UN Millenium Development Goals.
The Philippines was unanimously voted in the 30th General Assembly of the International Theatre Institute in Tampico, Mexico, as the host country of this year’s congress. The congress and associated events will be held in Manila from May 17 to 31.
The ITI was established in Prague in 1948 by UNESCO and the international community. It has now national centers in around 90 countries and maintains formal associate relations with UNESCO and its principal international NGO partner in the field of live performing arts.
The ITI receives support for certain international projects through the UNESCO Culture’s Sector, Division of Arts and Cultural Enterprise. Its general Secretariat is based at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
The components of this year’s world congress include:
–EXCOM 123rd Session. The Executive Committee, composed of elected senior 20 members of the ITI and UNESCO, will meet two days before the Congress proper to discuss and finalize all business matters pertaining to the upcoming Congress.
–World Congress. The Philippines will host delegations from about 100 countries with a maximum of 10 delegates, representatives and theatre artists for each country.
–General Assembly Plenary Sessions. Three plenary sessions of the General Assembly will be conducted to discuss agenda items such as status of projects, budgetary needs, election of office-bearers, committee programmes and a comprehensive Theatre Arts and Media Plan to communicate the UN Millennium Development Goals.
–Colloquium. The subject of this year’s colloquium will be the central theme of the World Congress with a special focus on poverty alleviation through arts and media. The following components will be interesting: a dialogue for development and education through theatre arts; a broadcast theatre forum delving on soap opera for social change, poverty alleviation programs in the Philippines through the KALAHI Peace Center of Culture for the Poor in Baseco and Tandang Sora, conducted by UNESCO Artists for Peace: Earthsavers DREAMS Ensemble.
–Committee & Project Group Meetings. Standing committees will meet to discuss projects or organize relevant workshops for showcasing at the plenary. There are ten relevant areas of concern, namely, Cultural Identity and Development, Music Theatre, New Projects, Communication, Dramatic Theatre, Theatre Education, Playwrights Forum, Monodrama Forum, Dance and Young Practitioners.
–Leaders Forum. The UNESCO Director General will preside over a special gathering of UN officials, ministers of culture, Nobel laureates and UNESCO artists for peace to discuss UN Millennium Development Goals which will focus on eradicating extreme poverty and covering concerns on children, women, health, AIDS, environment, peace, partnership for development and cultural diversity.
–Theatre Olympics of the Nations. During the evenings, the delegates will be able to watch performances by outstanding theatre groups from Asia, Africa, Latin America & Caribbean, North America, Europe and the Philippines.
–World Festival of Drama Schools and Workshop. The event will bring about 150 participants in 12 countries who will forge a partnership with 12 regional bases throughout the Philippines—indigenous communities as well as clusters in the National Capital Region or Metro Manila.
–FACE Broadcast Theatre, Cinema Fest. Selected works (soap opera and films) will be exhibited under the coordination of Cinemanila and the Cinema Committee of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
–Exhibits. ITI Philippines will hold exhibits on Philippine theatre, with a trade fair promoting indigenous cultural industries and creative and artistic goods.
–Special Events. Special events will cover the opening and closing ceremonies of the ITI World Congress. These include the 10th anniversary of the UN Platform of Action launched in GICOS, Manila in 1996 and the Post Congress Eco-Cultural Tourism Package for delegates to visit heritage sites in the country like the rice terraces or the underwater caves of Palawan and mountain climbing in Mt. Makiling.