A pistol shot in Sarajevo. A month later – on July 28th – war is declared. Exactly a hundred years after the explosion which changed history, Europe seems once again to be in turmoil.

Not as earth-shaking as the unrest which preceded the First World War, but just as intense and profound. The very idea of a united Europe, nurtured and developed since the Second World War, seems to change before our eyes and dissolve into the manifold forms of contemporary disquiet.

This climate of uncertainty and vulnerability is not just a result of the recession. It questions the foundations of European citizenship, our behaviour, our choices, our values.

Even those we consider timeless. Such as artistic values.

For more than twenty years Mittlefest has registered the changes and the tensions affecting Europe. In the 2014 programme the signs of a fragile and unquiet beauty appear clearer. The past intertwined with the future of music, a theatre of lost identities, the subtly cutting thought which inspires the creators of dance – these are some of the directions we have seen the arts take in recent times.

Like an international atlas, a collection of maps from a geography of art, Mittelfest 2014 recognises these signs and follows them in many countries. What we are presenting is a cartography of disquiet.

But we like to think that this year’s programme enables the public to discern the outline of an art less fragile, a grace more lasting. To underpin the desire – with each month, each day, that passes – for a greater beauty.

Franco Calabretto