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Why a city theatre concerns itself with the fate of undocumented migrants

| 9 February 2022
In March 2022, NTGent organises an event that raises the voice of undocumented migrants in Belgium and Europa. The struggle for the civic rights of migrants now is what the struggle for women's rights and equality was a few decades ago, says artistic director Milo Rau.

A city theatre is more than a stage for plays. It is an agora, a place where all the voices and stories of a society are to be told. A city theatre is a democracy in small. It is the blueprint for an ideal republic in the making. But how is an equal and democratic theatre possible, if a whole part of the population and therefore our audience is excluded from society?

It is estimated that there are around 100,000 undocumented migrants in Belgium. These people are our neighbours, our customers, our local shopkeepers. They work, live and raise their children in our country, but they don't have access to the same rights documented Belgians do. Not only does this two-class society constitute a major violation of our society's ideals, it is a dysfunctionality that facilitates international crime and generates huge economic costs. We cannot accept this system that brings forth the dehumanization of hundreds of thousands of refugees as a natural disaster; we as a society are responsible.

The greatness of a democracy is measured by the way it treats its weakest members. That is why NTGent, for many years, has been supporting debates and campaigns that raise the awareness  for global and social issues.  The question of the civil rights of the migrant population is what the struggle for women's rights and equality was a few decades ago.

It is the task of a city theatre to not only represent the present and past on stage, but to also negotiate the future. That is why we support the campaign In My Name, just like we support every demand for a more fair and more diverse democracy and by extension performing arts field.

 Who are we? Who do we want to be? What are our central values? What does democracy and 'rule of the people' truly mean? Who should be heard when it comes to the concerns of our city, our country, our world? These are questions we must face every single day. Whether we like it or not. Because democracy is born anew every day. At home, in our working environment and especially here, in our city theatre.

We look forward to your opinion, your critiques and your ideas.

Sincerely.

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