Arriving at the Art and Environment Days means being greeted by the most peculiar welcoming team: three young ladies (Adriana, Anita and Maria) wave hello in their fish costume as soon as you set foot in the area where the Festival is held, in the Raina Dona Amélia Spa in São Pedro do Sul (Northern Portugal).
The Days (12-14 October) are organized to sensitize people on the connections among environment, arts and society and are promoted by the Associação Portuguesa de Educação Ambiental (ASPEA), with the collaboration of the Municipality of São Pedro do Sul, the Alves Martins Educative Center and the São Pedro do Sul Spa. The attendants are young people, professors, educators, researchers, politicians and representatives of different public institutions.
Some of them have shared with us their opinions and thoughts on this important Festival.
Joaquim Ramos Pinto, ASPEA Chairman, has stressed that "these Days are meant to create connections between artistic expression and environmental protection, using new perspectives and patterns of communication". He believes the event offers new instruments to defend the ecosystem: music, theater, dance, plastic arts as well as daily routines that anyone can adopt.
The importance of initiatives like the Festival was underlined even by Mercês Teixeira. She, who works for the Environmental Portuguese Agency, has linked the necessity to sensitize people to the possibility of realizing a sustainable development. Art and Environment Days and its siblings involve a myriad of local actors who learn to translate the theory into action. That is, statesmen, professors, students and their families all experience the possibilities they have to live a greener life. "If everyone of us was involved, the success rate of the strategies to implement a sustainable development would be higher. The strategies themselves would be more efficient".
ASPEA’s Festival was praised again by Teresa Sobrinho, councilor in the Municipal Chamber of São Pedro do Sul. She has always had high expectations towards what it could achieve, due to her experience working with ASPEA as dynamizator. Also, Sobrinho defined ASPEA´s work as one of "high quality" as it never fails to have a positive impact on territories and communities. She claimed to be sure of the Days’ success and to be satisfied of the chosen location - as the region of São Pedro do Sul needs environmental protection now more than ever.
And this is a goal which here as much as everywhere else ASPEA aspires to reach through the wide variety of in- and outdoor activities proposed to the attendants. The workshop in Environmental protection developed for the schools by ASPEA have been particularly appreciated by the community. David Silva, the ASPEA directive team member who helped bring about the whole event from day zero, has always been certain that these Days would be very interesting for students (and everyone else, really!) exactly because they have a theoretical and practical dimension.
One extraordinary example of this double nature of the Art and Environment Days is the work of Raquel Bontempo. Bontempo is a Biodance Professor who was invited at the Festival to present her "Take Care of Life", a performance based on the idea of using dance as a mean to protect and feed human life... Just like ASPEA wants to protect and feed the environment through the arts.
Undoubtedly, the Art and Environment Days are a unique chance to learn and experience - which makes them a must-go Festival!
MagdalenaOliveira and Magda Mendes