Elevate Festival has been running annually since 2005 and is a festival for combining contemporary music, art and political discourse. The alternative festival is all about experimentalism, freedom of expression and having an open mind.
Elevate Festival 2019 was held on 27 February – 3 March 2019 around the Schloßberg in Graz, Austria. This year’s theme was Truth, asking the question: “what happens to a society that no longer accepts facts?”
The festival was 5 days of talks, discussions, workshops and art and music performances. The sessions covered a variety of topics, mostly around the following socio-political issues:
- Climate change
- Economic inequalities
- Migration and refugees
- Technology, science and data
- Independent Journalism and Mainstream Media
Some sessions were broadcast via a livestream. Unfortunately for me, not all sessions were in English.
- Nigerian poet activist Nnimmo Bassey spoke about how the arts (music, dance, poems, paintings…) are a platform for political action. He spoke about how together we are stronger. Together, via global solidarity, we can construct the future that we want – liberty, equality, freedom. When you stand alone you can’t protect yourself and you create space for the forces who created the problems. When you have a beautiful dream, you don’t carry on sleeping so the dream can continue. You get up and take action. You can’t believe until you wake up. It’s time to see what the truth is. It’s time to expose the fake and let the fake be fake. Let the real be real. And let the truth be truth.
- Pamela Anderson gave an insight into her past activism, creating animal welfare laws, how she spoke to Vladimir Putin to stop Russia importing seal products and her general passion for animal issues, veganism, environmental issues and vulnerable people. Pamela spoke about how we need to find a new way of doing things, the importance of educating others and she encouraged people to do the best they can. She gave some advice on how to people can help create positive change:
- Everyone has their role to play
- Educate yourself
- Look at people you admire in activism.
- Be creative. Find new behaviours and new ways.
- Croatian Philosopher Srećko Horvat, co-founder of the DiEM25 movement, spoke about investing in green technology and how artificial intelligence and automation is taking human jobs. He also spoke about the importance of fun. He said he doesn’t want to belong to a political party that doesn’t know how to have fun. He doesn’t want to belong to a movement which thinks if you join a political party you are already corrupt and have to be killed. Today we have to use everything we can. We have to use music festivals. He went on to say things are changing. For example, in Hungary there is no independent media anymore as the constitution was changed. In the West, there is a sort of censorship which is fake news, which may even be worse than classical censorship. To be progressive you have to use all means possible, including arts, technology, transport, etc. in order to fight the system. You have to use this system to fight this system. There is no escape, no bubble you can go to. There is this world. Here and now. And it is now that we have to change.
You can view videos of some of the sessions from Elevate Festival: