Summary – What’s next for Ostrava?
After four days of immersion in the microcosmic world of Colours, the return to everyday life is akin to coming home after traveling to foreign lands. The senses overly stimulated and the body weary, the mind marvels at the experience, made all the more meaningful because unlike a good number of festival goers, I live in Ostrava. Is the phenomenon of Colours an accurate representation of life in the city of steel? What happens after the festival?
Once a candidate for the title of European capital of Culture 2015, Ostrava became the focal point, joining all relevant forces internally along with the region. Its inception was the result of the collaborative efforts of the city, the Moravian-Silesian Region and private parties, especially the company Vítkovice, host of Colours for the past two years. The main components of the 2015 project were: buildings, meant to fill in lacking cultural infrastructure; the cultural programme, centering on both long-term and one-off special events; education in the field of arts, including the opening a new department of arts management at one of Ostrava’s universities; and finally increasing efforts to improve the overall quality of life, so vital for the Moravian-Silesian Region.
From this angle, it is clear that an institution such as Colours has been successful in fulfilling some of these goals. By partnering with Vítkovice, it has indeed become a force to be reckoned with. As well as being a musical phenomenon, the festival is a source of employment for city residents. It brings tourists, supporting the local economic infrastructure. And most of all, it gives people living here a reason to hold their heads up high. But the fact remains that this boost comes only four days out of the year.
There is room for more to be done in this city. It is ripe for new cultural initiatives. And I believe that the residents of the city are already on their way, evident by their presence at Colours on the workshop and busking stages, the bicycles for Africa initiative raising money to help children in Gambia, and many more. These gems were part of the festival sidelines but easily overshadowed by the music. Perhaps the program of Colours was a bit too ambitious in trying to rein in everything that is happening in the city under its umbrella. While it adds flavor to the program, it does a disservice to the smaller cultural initiatives working to find their own place in the city’s cultural landscape.
I, for one, would love to see the potential of Ostrava fulfilled by more than just the Colours festival. It would be a show of community were they to use their influence to go beyond the makings of the festival and engage in a new dialogue with other organizations. By standing alongside other cultural initiatives, Colours can shine as more than just a music fest, but as a beacon of inspiration for others.