Bob Bales, Founder of European House of Arts with Scottish and Irish roots, has lived in Germany, France, Poland, Austria and Romania and, as a musician has played in all European countries and many other places in the World. Bob’s musical adventures have taken him on stage with the best of the folk scene worldwide. As a composer his abilities can be heard in different shows like Magic of the Dance and as a performer he can be seen as an artist with his solo programme and also in different formations.
Back in the early 1970's when I was hiking across remote areas of Europe I used to imagine what was going on in the minds of the peoples of the great migrations; the Celts, Slavs, Germans, Huns and all the rest of them that make up our wonderful continent Europe today. The face of Europe has changed in many places in these few decades, but the charm of our multi-cultural society is only just being discovered. Most Europeans still see themselves as being only member of a certain nation, Dutch, Irish or whatever. What I see in addition is a network of ethnic groups whose boundaries can only be drawn on a completely different type of map. We believe in our nationalities, because we are born in our countries, we did not choose them. When we leave 'our country' we go abroad to the foreigners. What about East and West Germany, now united as a country, but still divided by unseen factors deriving from different ideological, social and economic backgrounds? What about the Silesians? You enter the area of Goerlitz in Germany and you are already in Silesia, which most people consider only to be in Poland. Or the Sorbs, a Slavic group amongst the Germans. There are hundreds of examples like this from all over Europe and my belief is not to disrupt the national boundaries that help to make an identity easier for the majority, but to enjoy further the diversity of our ethnic origins. Europe is a delicate network of different tongues with a vast variety of customs and traditions. The great powers of the 19th century no longer dictate the national boundaries of Bosnia, Romania, Poland and many other great peoples, but it is a trap to remain in the restrictive belief of national pride. If we can build on our national identity by embracing our newly-won European identity, then we can learn to respect and include our cultural diversity, and by doing so develop our desire to build an environment fit for all ethnic groups, side by side.
I love talking to all kinds of people, wherever they are from in this World. My movement is nevertheless called European House of Arts, because I feel European. I am not Asian African or American and I prefer to leave the cultural values of other continents to those who know better than I do. So it is with this movement that I wish to imply all the possibilities to create a platform of art, culture and education to nurture these thoughts. People have had enough of nationalism in its negative sense. It is time to reconstruct our thoughts of who we are today.
European House of Arts intention is to group the flow of creativity from all corners of the art-world and enhance the structures of our institutions, whose tasks have become overwhelming in the light of international demands.
But art must be without restraint to ensure our future, both in the education of our children as well as in the structuring of a society we feel free to move in.
Identity is a complex of internal and external
influences through which all individuals find
and leave their traces in history.