EGO is proud that we have been given the opportunity to be involved in the Holocaust memorial day in Coventry’s Broadgate Square. Georgina Egan, one of our artistic directors, will be delivering her speech at 1pm on Friday 27th January 2017.
You can read her full speech below. We hope you agree that it carries a poignant message and encourages a continuing collaboration within our communities.
It’s lovely to have the opportunity to talk to you today.
I was born in Coventry, grew up here, and then as a young adult I left. I was fortunate enough to work and travel abroad until eventually settling in a rural town by the sea, surrounded by the mountains, it was a beautiful place. After 10 years I simply chose to come back to Coventry, nothing dramatic had happened to make me make that decision, I just felt the need to come back. A similar story shared by many of my friends that I grew up with, we all left and we all came back.
We were discussing why, I mean if you read in the papers and the social media Coventry is perceived to be the most violent city in the UK, the ugliest city, or you hear Oh Coventry – nothing ever happens in Coventry and what’s with the ring road!. So why on earth would we come back?
We agreed, it’s because Coventry is unique, in fact it’s quite remarkable, but why is it? we banded around words that we often hear about our city… recognised for Peace and reconciliation, Innovation, Youth & Energy, 2-tone, Diversity and creativity, all these things that make us proud of our city. But there is something deeper and more profound, something difficult to articulate, in the end we said that Coventry has a kind of an under current of connectedness. We all somehow felt connected, a feeling hard to define, but nevertheless a feeling that gives us a sense of belonging and that in turn makes us feel safe.
Myself and my colleagues run a small charity called EGO, we have an arts venue and over the last eleven years we have offered opportunities and projects for people to make theatre, compose music, get involved in production arts – making sets and props as well as working with other artist to make films. And I can put my hand on my heart and say that the majority of people, when they first arrive at EGO say to us “I don’t fit”, I don’t feel safe. The very things that are so important to me.
How awful must that be? to feel like you don’t fit in, feeling isolated and lonely. We run 14 groups over the week, with over 200 members, our youngest member is 4 and our eldest 74, every member is as important as each other and together we create a space where people feel safe and can build their confidence, make some fantastic theatre and music and pieces of art and at the same time help them deal with the issues they face in their lives. Our members are made up of people from different ages, cultures, they have different abilities, different experiences, some are dealing with mental health issues, some struggling with their sexuality or gender identity, some have learning disabilities, some physical disabilities, some are very confident some are still developing theirs – the point is everyone is different, but everyone is equal and every person has their part to play in creating our safe place where individuals can develop their skills, their self esteem and their social networks. By working together, learning from each other, sharing experiences and supporting each other we have created a wonderful community.
And it’s reciprocal in its nature because our community reaches out to other communities, and partnerships are made, and together our shared vision can be realised. And the more communities, projects and organisations reach out and work together the stronger we all become.
Our city is bursting with the most incredible projects and organisations, EGO is a member of the F13 club, a group of arts organisations and artists offering amazing opportunities to people and creating fantastic and innovative work, From Theatre Absolute who created The Shop Front Theatre out of the old Fishy Moore’s Chip Shop to Arty Folks who work with people with Mental Health issues, Fargo Village, Imagineer productions, The Tin Arts, Talking Birds, Highly Sprung and many more, all out there making our City more creative, more vibrant a more positive space. And together we talk and we share and we learn from each other.
EGO also has had the pleasure of working with Grapevine a wonderful organisation supporting people with Learning disabilities. we worked with The Refugee Centre to identify people who were in most need to use The Bank of EGO, a meal bank operated by our cafe, which also helps to feed people who are homeless and sleeping on the streets. We have worked with Coventry Recovery Community, CRISIS, Jenner8 and many other organisations working hard to support people who need help
Over the last two years EGO has been working on an european project with organisations in Greece, Wales and Romania using theatre and drama techniques to challenge bullying behaviour in schools, and taking part in research and development in order to make changes to policy at a european level. A project that proved to be very successful and allowed us to make connections afar.
We are living in turbulent times it’s true, with worrying times in world politics. At EGO we can’t change who runs the world, as much as we wished we could we can’t say excuse me people but can you stop that war now please, or please Mr Trillionaire can you not use child labour to make your goods, Mr Trump build a bridge not a wall.
We may not be able to change the big things but we can play a part in the little things, show the people of Coventry that people with Learning disabilities are great artists and musicians, challenge peoples perceptions of people who are just different to them
And if we all play a part in the little things, like supporting people, giving people a chance, not judging people, being friendly, listening, giving and connecting we can make a really big difference to someones life to our community and our city.