It’s a sunny afternoon in early May, and while students in other high schools throughout Italy are immersed in reading, writing and a host of other studies, over one thousand students from the Adriatic port city of Brindisi and surrounding area are gathered together to put on a show unlike anything that has been seen in recent times.
The event is called BAMS – “Brindisi, Arte, Musica and Spettacolo” and showcases the talents and creativity of students attending the Brindisi Liceo Artistico (Academy of Arts) and other upper-level institutions of higher learning in and around the city.
But far from just being a day spent in the sun showcasing arts and crafts, and listening to high school bands, vocalists and dancers – the theme of the BAMS festival touched a nerve in every student involved: “Better Art Than the Mafia”.
The Mafia – unfortunately – is alive and well in Italy and perhaps thrives strongest in the South. Students with no future to speak of will always be a reliable resource for underworld activities. The BAMS festival sought to demonstrate that there ARE students who care and who want something more out of life.
Guglielmo Carrozzo , President of the Puglia Board of Education, thinks a festival of this kind demonstrates solidarity among students. Remarked Carrozzo, “Ã¢Â?Â¦The BAMS festival wasn’t just held in Brindisi, but in areas all over the Puglia Region. The student unions suggested it and I thought it was a good idea, but the kids had to put in the effort to coordinate the event in order for it to come together…”
Coordinating this festival was no easy task. Two student-representatives from each school in the region were responsible creating a work force that would garner participation, get the necessary permits, and assist in setting up the stages in addition to a dozen other jobs necessary for getting this event off the ground.
Adds one student, “…the city is showing its support by allowing this festival to happen, but it’s just the first step. The only way to get rid of the Mafia influence by demonstrating that the city is proactive in it’s obligation to young adultsÃ¢Â?Â¦”
Amid the blaring sounds of electric guitar and hip-hop dance demonstrations, the student union set up a kiosk to collect signatures to present to city hall along with a letter of intent to the Mayor.
Adds Caroozzo, “Ã¢Â?Â¦one of the aims here was to get the support of local businesses to agree to try and underwrite a meeting place for the students. Not just a place where they can hang out, but a youth center of sorts where the students can come and feel free to be creative and in general have a sense of purpose. Hopefully, the Commune (city hall) will take a look at this and realize that it serves a deeper purpose than just spending a day out of school…”
In an area spread out in a piazza above and on a portion of port of Brindisi, two stages, 20 bands, dozens of artists, dancers and singers converged for a day that passed all to quickly.
Added physical education teacher Giulia Lezzi, “Ã¢Â?Â¦The students wanted this and they deserve all the credit for pulling it off. It came together pretty good and the students behaved themselves which is importantÃ¢Â?Â¦”
Only time will tell whether this festival has any lasting impact, but at least for now, area students in Brindisi can enjoy knowing that voices were heard and that their hard work coordinating this festival was worht it.