2004 UNESCO Children’s Performing Arts Festival of East Asia (Suwon, Republic of Korea, 29 July – 2 August 2004)On 29 July, the Director-General attended the opening ceremony of the third UNESCO Children’s Performing Arts Festival of East Asia (CPAF), which took place from 29 July to 2 August 2004 in the City of Suwon (Republic of Korea).
He was accompanied by Ms. Sumi-Jo, a famous Korean opera singer and UNESCO Artist for Peace, as well as by Ms. Komaki Kurihara, the Japanese award-winning actress and Special Adviser to the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan.
Addressing the young participants, the Director-General remarked that “the performing arts are one of the best ways to make contact with others. I hope you get to understand one another better. This is important if we are to build peace and friendship. You, the children and young people who have come to this festival, are the natural ambassadors of peace. This makes you hope for the future”.
First launched in Beijing, China, in 2001 to promote regional peace and cultural harmony, the second edition of the CPAF was hosted by Japan in Fukuoka in 2002. The festival had to be cancelled last year in Macau SAR due to the health difficulties in the region at that time.
Over 600 talented young artists from domestic and international performance groups unfurled a message of peace, thus laying a cornerstone for intercultural understanding. These young participants from four countries and two regions in East Asia – China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, Japan, Mongolia and the Republic of Korea – took part in this festival aimed at sharing their different modes of cultural expression, thereby enhancing mutual understanding and respect. Through their skillful performances, which combined traditional folk songs and dances with modern expression, displays of contortion and pop songs the children conveyed clear messages of peace and friendship to transcend the borders and cultural differences of East Asia.
After the artistic performances, which ran for three consecutive days, the children had the opportunity to take part in a special music class held by Ms. Sumi Jo who taught them several children’s songs. The children also visited and performed in five schools within Suwon City, after which the non-Korean children stayed at Korean artists’ homes to experience Korean culture and build friendships.
The Director-General regretted that the children from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were unable to participate this year but stated that he was “encouraged to note that the core objective of the festival – to encourage dialogue among cultures – seems to have taken root in the region”. He also said that he hoped they would be able to participate in the festival next year, especially since this annual event is gaining in popularity as a forum for cultural exchanges among young people in the region.
The fourth UNESCO Children’s Performing Arts Festival of East Asia will take place in Macau SAR from 28 July to 30 July 2005.