Art, Fascism and Democracy: The Politics of Division versus the Politics of Inclusion

The civil war in Spain was seen as a European war against fascism and foreshadowed WWII.  What lessons can we learn from the Spanish Civil War in relation to standing  up to fascism particularly in view of the attacks on democracy and human rights that we are  witnessing today?  

This  project tells the stories of artists and activists  who supported democracy and freedom and stood up against fascism in a time of war. Using theatre, film and political activism, organisations from four different countries across Europe work collaboratively to reflect on the ending of the Spanish Civil War as a key turning point in European history. Using creative processes of theatre, film and on-line digital resources the project explores the effects of fascism on the lives of ordinary people and what happens in society during and after civil war when totalitarianism and fascism  takes over and free speech, democratic processes and civil rights  are denied. 

As part of the project, twenty stories of resistance were gathered, five each from Spain, Ireland, Germany and Italy,  all linked to the Spanish Civil War and the fight between fascism and democracy, promoting a remembrance of a shared European history. The stories were used to inspire and create a Democracy and Freedom book; The Art of Courage available to download here, a theatre workshop model and the creation of a film, Humanity in the Ruins.

Enjoy performances and workshops exploring stories of resistance from artists and activists  who stood up against fascism during and after the Spanish Civil War. Engage in a Democracy and Peace  international symposium and public debates on how to prevent the growth of fascism and intolerance  in society, exploring how to recognise a ‘scapegoat’ and deconstruct the discourse leading to exclusion and marginalisation. The project brings people together to explore contemporary democratic  achievements in Europe today and the role European solidarity can play in promoting civil rights (including freedom of speech and the right to vote), free media and open debate which are indispensable elements of democracy and peace.

The project is supported by Europe for Citizens and the partners are Ifescoop, Valencia, Spain; Smashing Times, Dublin, Ireland; University of Hannover, Germany;  and Consorzio per la Formazione L’Innovazione E La Qualita, Pinerolo, Italy.

I Speak – A Video installation by Mary Moynihan 

Inspired by an imagined recreation of moments from the lives of women in WWII

Based on life of Dolores Ibarurri or La Pasionaria (1895-1989), from Spain, a revolutionary leader, political activist, Communist and crusader against Fascism during the Spanish Civil War who created the famous cry ‘They Shall Not Pass’. 

A total of 278,366 citizens made up of community and youth members including hard to reach groups, ethnic minority groups, refugees, artists, and activists, come together to remember key moments in history and to explore European solidarity as a key part in sustaining democracy, equality and peace today. Access to project activities and products raises awareness of the EU’s history and diversity and aims to encourage citizens to reflect on the freedoms they enjoy today and how those freedoms were promoted and fostered by the EU, creating a sense of European citizenship, and the importance of diversity and civic engagement for all.

Project Documents and Reports

Final Report Arts, Fascism and Democracy