‘To live, in general, is a challenge. The best you can do is to make the most if it’, Carla jokingly adds, ‘ I did that for instance by creating my own job!'.
The handover between Carla Delfos and Maria Hansen took place on 15 September during a festive celebration at the Westergastheater. It was a historic moment and a joyous occasion. It was also a moment for the incoming Executive Director, Maria Hansen, to present herself for the first time the ELIA network.
‘The steps I want to take with ELIA would not be possible, had it not been for the solid basis that Carla created’ says Maria. ELIA started out with small steps and now it is the major network for higher arts education. Carla believes that we cannot change the world, but every small step makes a difference. Her advocacy work for the arts and arts education is a testament to this belief. Here, she quotes a verse that sums up the importance of arts in our societies: ‘If you are looking for hell / Ask the artists where it is/ If you can’t find the artist/ You are already in hell’. The raison d'être for founding ELIA in 1990 is more relevant than ever and there is still much work to be done.
Carla is retiring, but she will remain active with new projects already lined up. She believes that she is leaving ELIA in good hands with Maria and she concludes her speech with a symbolic gesture - Carla hands over the first print of the Europe City Culture (2017) publication to Maria, as she steps onto the stage to say a few words.
Maria acknowledges the immense responsibility of the task at hand and stresses that she feels confident that with the support of the ELIA board, network and office she will carry on the torch. For Maria, ELIA is a ‘platform for teachers, leaders and students of Higher Arts Education to share, compare, discuss and innovate’. This platform is ‘at the heart of the future of ELIA’.
Building on ELIA’s history under the leadership of Carla, Maria envisions ELIA as a ‘modern and relevant voice for the arts and arts education in our societies’. A network that ‘recharges your batteries’ and ‘facilitates conversation’.
Maria then gives Carla a ceramic flower that is modeled on an art deco ceramic part of the municipal theatre building in Haarlem, where she spent 10 years of her life working. This symbolic gift is a thank you to Carla for making the transition a special experience.
The reception concluded with a champagne toast to Carla, Maria and the future of ELIA.