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Elevate Festival 2018 Theme: RISK/COURAGE

We make decisions by weighing up the risks involved.

Risk-taking is part of the nature of man. Judicious risk-taking gives us an evolutionary advantage and the better we are able to evaluate risk, the more likely we are to survive and thrive. Risky actions presuppose a free will, the open possibility we have to decide between different actions. Morally highly rated actions that are particularly risky are considered courageous (from the French “le coeur”, “the heart”). But people can also take selfish risky actions, coolly calculated to serve their own advantage. When is the willingness to take risks part of a bold plan, a bigger idea? And vice versa: When does a particularly courageous idea run the risk of crusting into ideology, of seducing and ultimately endangering people?

Civil rights, peace treaties, minimum wages, women's suffrage, freedom of expression - the achievements of modernity are seen as the results of courageous struggles that have advanced our society. And indeed, in many parts of the world today there is a considerable amount of peace, security and stability.

It becomes more difficult when adequate responses to current problems such as the climate crisis and social inequality are lacking, when the dangers of the financial market or authoritarian power structures exceed the individual's ability to act. Then humanity risks too little and often, in the process, risks itself. Is there a lack of risk-taking and courage to make necessary course corrections? Or simply a lack of clarity in the face of an overwhelming complexity of current troubles?

But there is movement. Indigenous environmentalists form worldwide alliances. Artists and Whistleblowers often risk their careers to highlight grievances. Civil disobedience and non-violent resistance again become the leitmotif for those citizens who get involved. Some activists even risk their lives to fight for their cause.

This is exactly where the upcoming Elevate Festival comes in: We want to focus on the concepts of risk and courage, look at concrete examples and discuss the pros and cons. What risk are we personally willing to accept for our beliefs? What courageous ideas do we consider important and where do we see the most urgent need for action? What strategies and methods do activists and artists from around the world use to assess the risks of their actions? And when does the end no longer justify all means?

Together with many guests from all over the world these questions and more will be discussed at the Elevate Festival. A lot of inspiration and an exciting exploration of new ideas and strategies are in the foreground, over five festival days at the beginning of March 2018 in Graz.

Through the We Are Europe festival collaboration, the TodaysArt Festival from The Hague as well as the Reworks Festival from Thessaloniki, will be visiting and co-curating some of the sessions.


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