What is the project about?
As the political situation surrounding migrants and refugees becomes increasingly fraught, the Welcome Festival is more essential than ever. The celebration provides a space for people to encounter one another not as citizens, refugees, and tourists, but as people. We are not the political categories we get placed into; we are individuals with common basic needs for community, support, and acceptance. The Welcome Festival serves as a beautiful reminder of this fact during a time when it’s all too easy to lose sight of it.
The Welcome Festival aims both to create an atmosphere where people can meet and celebrate alongside others they may not normally encounter, as well as to provide a platform for networking, where individuals and organizations can connect, grow, and thrive. Schön, dass ihr da seid! has recently become an officially registered association. Although festival preparation currently consumes most of our time, the endgame is to establish a hub for people and initiatives to team up and participate in sustainable, long-term projects in the realm of inclusion, integration, and diversity. The festival itself is only one day, but it is both the culmination of countless hours of dedicated volunteer work, as well as the beginning of another year of self-organized creative thinkers coming together to make our city an even better place to live.
At the festival:
The main feature of the Festival is the large, colorful buffet, which is open to all, free of charge or for a donation. Schön, dass ihr da seid! prepares lots of food, some is donated from catering companies and other business, and all guests are invited to bring a dish of their own to share. Alcohol-free drinks are issued at the bar on a donation-basis.
From 12:00 until 8:30pm, our stage program features musical acts and speakers. This year, local artists – both Berliners and new-Berliners – such as Dota Kehr and Fattouch featuring Jamila will grace the stage. Together with the Festival Radio, which is run by refugees, we invite guests to dance and enjoy!
The Welcome Festival is a family-friendly space. This year the Kinderspace (kids’ area) is run by a team of both children and adults. The Kinderspace volunteers carried out weekly workshops at a refugee camp in Berlin during the months leading up to the festival. The children will be running the show and demonstrated just how much agency and power they possess when included. Our young visitors will be invited to take part in our program consisting of six culturally stimulating stations: learning to write your name in a new alphabet; taking part in a game based on the geography of the Middle East; getting to know a children’s book about life in Syria; playing some games and sports; building and painting a house in our rainbow village; and crafting a tree while learning some Arabic.
Another new edition this year is out first ever Womens’ Tent, organized by the SUSI Women's Center, DaMigra and international Womenspace. The tent will provide a safe space for women to converge in privacy. There will be open roundtable discussions on topics particularly relevant to women seeking asylum, as well as self-defence workshops.
The “ConTent” workshop tent provides a space for political and social discussions, which are emerging in a society increasingly characterized by migration. The tent will also house readings and an exhibition.
20 market stands will make up a trade fair-style experience, where 40 different refugee-support initiatives will be representing themselves. Here, initiatives can find ways to collaborate, while also inspiring and engaging individuals.
How we work:
Since Schön, dass ihr da seid! was founded in the summer of 2015, we have been working in groups within the larger structure (Stage and booking, food acquisition and preparation, Kinderspace, Languages and translation, Decoration, Finance and funding, etc. In these groups, refugees and Berliners work together, creating projects and working relationships that persist beyond the Festival.
What are the objectives and who is the target group?
The Welcome Festival is first and foremost a space open to everyone living in Berlin in the short or long term and who are interested in the possibilities of successful coexistence in a culturally diverse city. We aim to serve as an example of the power and beauty of multiculturalism and to detract from the fear and hate that threatens our society.
The Festival is designed especially for refugees, who we invite to enjoy a relaxed, sociable day, and take a break from everyday life. Information on support projects aim to provide easy access to cultural life in Berlin. In addition, the Festival is aimed at groups, initiatives and projects from the Greater Berlin area, which are committed to migration and integration. It is intended to create a platform for them to introduce themselves and their work in a relaxed atmosphere, to meet like-minded people and interested parties and to network. They are also invited to actively participate in the design of the Festival through partnerships.
Why should someone support this project?
The Welcome Festival is an active and direct contribution to the understanding and integration between new and old Berliners. For the thousands of participants it is a very special day that brings together the joy of life, solidarity and networking, all of which resonate long after the actual Festival.
Where does the money go?
The Welcome Festival is organized by a team of volunteers. Funds collected will be used to reimburse rental materials such as tents and tables, electricity, security, and for administrative fees and production costs. We need a total of EUR 6,000 for the Welcome Festival 2017. If we reach our first funding goal of 3,000 EUR, 50% of our costs will have been covered by you. If our second funding target of 6,000 EUR is met, we can compensate all costs via this corwdfunding project! We have decided to work with two funding goals because we want to make sure that your support will definitely contribute to the project. Thank you so much!
Who is behind the project?
The initiative Schön, dass ihr da seid! was created in the late summer of 2015 as a group of committed Berliners were determined support the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and destruction, making their way to Berlin. The group came together to bundle the strengths and circles of friends to organize a large Welcome Picnic on Tempelhofer Feld.
After the huge success of our first festival in the summer of 2015, we vowed to repeat the action every year.