The town of Imst and the Hermann-Gmeiner-Gesellschaft worked with the Imst-Gurgltal Tourist Board, amongst other partners to launch the future "ubuntu" project. There are plans to open a "Centre for Childhood and Cultures" on the square behind Johannes Church, which will be an interactive centre encouraging participation that can be used for many different purposes. The aims of the project are ambitious in the long-term: Imst intends to be a "town of the child"; the "ubuntu" centre hopes to attract several thousand visitors every year, mainly families and young people, with its exhibition on childhood across the world and it hopes to contribute towards sustainable development in the region. The project does however have a long way to go.
What does the project involve?
A specialist centre is to be set up on the topic of childhood in Imst. One of its main aspects is to explore what childhood means within the context of different social and cultural values. It involves presenting both happy and lost childhoods to provoke socio-political discourse on childhood in close connection to art and culture. Artists deal with the topic of childhood and children's rights, taking new approaches to the topic and motivating those interested, irrespective of the language they speak or their nationality.
What are the three aspects of "ubuntu" 2007?
Every year, the "ubuntu" project in Imst will feature "childhood visionaries" - this year it will be the world-famous author Astrid Lindgren, who would have celebrated her 100th birthday on 14 November 2007. The second aspect will be the "childhood exhibition", which will exhibit works of art for periods of several months on different issues involving childhood in the cultural context of the world and all its diversity: the threat posed to childhood, its misfortune, but also the good moments of childhood and its great potential.
The global SOS Children's Villages network is taking many approaches. There are plans for an exhibition on "Childhood in India"; SOS Children's Villages India is to prepare the material and background information for the exhibition in Imst. The third aspect will see "art and childhood" unite and visitors will be invited to discuss the topic. Elmar Peintner will be the first artist to take on this challenging task in 2007.
Who are we reaching out to with the "ubuntu" project?
"Ubuntu" intends to reach out to families and young people. Maybe one day pupils from across Austria will come to Imst for five days for discussions as part of the "Wienwoche" programme (when school children from other parts of Austria go to Vienna for a week to learn more about the capital of their country) - to immerse themselves in the "ubuntu" project, as well as visit the "Rosengartenschlucht" (Rosegarden Gorge) and the mountains? "Ubuntu" also aims to address experts who want to see children have a fair childhood, the right to a childhood and cultural interaction with children. "Ubuntu" intends to and will reach out to politicians who advocate "justice for children".
How will "ubuntu" in Imst be financed?
The Hermann-Gmeiner-Gesellschaft is a non-profit association that was formed specifically for the project and will carry out fundraising activities for the project. This involves private funds such as money from ticket sales and sponsors as well as public funds and European resources.
"Ubuntu" in Imst is important. Why?
Children are not "our future". They are our present. They need us now and today. Many children around the world have wretched and shockingly awful childhoods. So it is time the world heard children laughing for a change.
Wilfried Vyslozil, executive director of SOS Children's Villages Austria: "We want to give something back to Imst. We want to use Imst to give something back to Tyrol, to Austria and the whole of Europe by creating reports on childhood in Austria and around the globe. Since we want to make the world a better place, we must start at the beginning, with the children."