Interregional – Casestudies

Case Study 1: Hyphen Danes and Hyphen Germans

Case Study 2: Alibi

Case Study 3: The Congress of   Regional Culture

Case Study 4: OK – The Musical

Case Study 5: The Beskidy Highlanders’ Week of Culture

Case Study 6: Madness of Summer – the Askov Event 

 

CaseStudy1: Hyphen Danes and Hyphen Germans

By Bente von Schindel, Secretary General,

Kulturelle Samråd I Danmark

 

1. Background of the project

Denmark’s only country border is the border with Germany, more specific with the part called Schleswig-Holstein. Through the Danish/German history, the area has been the source of many wars, especially because of the lands around the border Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg

The Three Years War from 1848 – 1850 strangled the population’s division into two hostile national camps, the Danish-oriented Schleswig and the German-oriented Holstein. Prussia sent troops to support Schleswig and Holstein.

In Schleswig the Danish government tried to stop the population’s shift from Danish to German language by promoting the use of Danish in church and school with compulsion. It didn’t work!

The result was the war in 1864, where Prussia and Austria defeated Denmark, and we had to abandon Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg. Until 1920 the people living in Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg were Germans, but many of them in the north of Schleswig were still Danish in their minds and culture.

The Danish Border Association

In 1920, after the 1st World War, a referendum was held and the result became the border that exists today.


2. Who is involved and what they have done

The new boundary delay left a modest Danish minority south of the border and a somewhat larger German minority north of it. On November 2, 1920, The Danish Border Association (Grænseforeningen) was established. It has now 64 local associations. There is also a corresponding association in Germany.

Cultural minorities are an important resource in a democratic society.

 

Both associations work for:

  • Democracy, freedom of expression and equality apply to all, including minorities.
  • That the individual in the border countries is free to choose his or hers national identity without the authorities having any doubts about the authenticity of his motives.
  • Anchoring in own culture is a prerequisite for understanding other cultures.
  • Cultural minorities are an important resource in a democratic society.
  • Danish and German languages and culture are strengthened in the meeting with other languages and cultures.

 

3. Relation to the goals of “bridging social capital

The cooperation of the two Border Associations is building a bridge between former segregated regional groups. In order to reach that goal they have

  • Spreading knowledge of and an insight into growing up in a minority
  • Spreading knowledge of identity, culture, democracy, prejudices, minorities etc.
  • Help individuals to put both past and present in perspective and relate to other ethnic minorities.

In order to reach the goals the association has established 3 other associations:

  • The Association of Student Ambassadors
  • The Cultural Meeting Ambassadors
  • The Cultural Meeting Blog

The Association of Student Ambassadors

The Danish Border Association’s “Student Ambassadors” is a team of high school students from the Danish and German minorities in the Danish-German border area, who visit places for Danish youth education and the eldest primary school classes. The visit consists of a group of 4-8 students and the group engages in a dialogue with the classes about minorities, culture and languages.

A visit of the “Student Ambassadors” can be a part of many different educational contexts at all upper secondary school levels and in the eldest primary school classes as e.g. studies about society, Danish, history, cultural understanding, language etc. Often the ambassadors participate in interdisciplinary projects.

The activities of the “Student Ambassadors” are based on their own stories, which provide knowledge of and an insight into growing up in a minority, but at the same time they are also quite ordinary high school students.

Through the personal meeting, the “Student Ambassadors” thus provide a different starting point for dialogue on issues such as democracy, identity, culture, prejudices, minorities, etc. The “Student Ambassadors” can help put both past and present in perspective and relate to other ethnic minorities.

The Cultural Meeting Ambassadors

Efforts for cooperation across the Danish-German border have become an exemplary work copied in border cooperation in many countries around the world. As the last new initiative, the two associations now work with the refugees and immigrants from Denmark and Germany as they believe that the experience they have brought in bringing people of different nationalities, languages and cultures together can be used all places where populations must find a community.

Therefore The Danish Border Association now offers dialogue meetings on identity, nationality and citizenship throughout both countries. It´s an activity hosted by young ambassadors and it is based on personal tales about growing up with more languages and cultures. The dialogue meeting is facilitated by young people with different minority backgrounds, “The Cultural Meeting Ambassadors”. As an extra twist, there are perspectives on the experience of Danish-German border countries moving from conflict to peaceful coexistence.

Participatory exercises by The Danish Border Association

Through participatory exercises and open dialogue they find community in the diversity. Identity, nationality and citizenship – this and much more are discussed in a dialogue.

Dialogue meetings are an offer for anyone interested in being challenged and informed about cultural meetings and minorities. The primary target groups are educational institutions, associations, as well as conferences and the like.

Cultural meeting ambassadors are educated to facilitate open and constructive dialogue based on own personal stories and engaging exercises. But they are also in dialogue with the participants about your experiences and thoughts in relation to the coexistence of minorities/minorities and the majority between.

A handful of cultural meeting ambassadors with different minority backgrounds take part in the dialogue meeting. It could i.e. be a girl from the Danish minority in South Sleswig, a boy from the German minority in the south of Denmark, a Danish-Somali boy and Danish-Tamil girl. But it could also be Chileans, Tamils and Greenlanders.

The Cultural Meeting Blog

In addition to offering dialogue meetings, The Danish Border Association’s 40 Cultural Meeting Ambassadors stand behind “The Cultural Meeting Blog”. Based on various monthly culture-related themes, blogs about personal anecdotes and thoughts are made. The blog posts are fun, serious, touching, polemical, but above all different, since each blogger has his own style and look.


4. Relation to the Inter-regional theme

The Danish Border Association works to create community and understanding between a German and a Danish region.

Poster about the work of the two border-associations

Based on the young people’s own experiences from their own region, it is believed that anchoring in own culture is a prerequisite for understanding other cultures (in other regions).
 

Not either-or, but both-and

The young people call themselves hyphen-Danes as it emphasizes the community with young people south of the border.

The young people would like to have dialogue meetings with anyone interested in being challenged and informed about cultural meetings and minorities. They are in dialogue with everyone about experiences and thoughts in relation to the coexistence between people from different regions/countries, from different minorities/minorities and the majority between them.

 

References:

The Danish Border-Association: https://www.graenseforeningen.dk

The German Border-Association: https://www.bdn.dk/dansk.6104.aspx
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Case Study 2: Alibi

By Damien McGlynn, Communications & Partnerships Director,

Voluntary Arts

 

1. Background of the project

Alibi is a larping event devised by Irish artist Mark Durkan and took place several times in Ireland and London. Larping, or Live Action Roleplay, is a cultural practice with a variety of different forms and genres. According to Durkan, it is “about roleplaying a character for a period of time, interacting with other people who are doing the same thing to express the conditions of a constructed reality”. There has been a remarkable growth in larping activities across Europe and farther afield, as people from all walks of life come together to explore an emerging form of creative and personal expression away from their daily routine and environment.

Larping is primarily done purely for the benefit of the participants as there is rarely any kind of ‘audience’ and the ‘performances’ can often be sprawling across vast sets or locations. “It’s a way to understand yourself and empathise with others by stepping into the shoes of someone else and seeing the world through their eyes”, says Durkan.

Those that put together the framework of a larping experience – which may include character sheets, scripts, sets, key triggers – are usually known as ‘larp designers’. They often have an element of control, especially initially, but the idea behind larping is to allow the ‘players’ to make their own decisions within the context provided and in keeping with the character they have chosen, or been allocated.

Nordic Larp, the variety of larping that he is mostly concerned with, is about experiencing psychologically intense or emotionally challenging situations or characters. The Nordic larping community defines their unique style as including three key characteristics: Immersion, Collaboration, and Artistic Vision. A fully immersive commitment to the character, a willingness to allow other characters to develop at the expense of your own prominence, and an understanding that many Nordic larps are intended to make artistic or political statements which may ultimately change participants’ own attitudes.


2. Who is involved and what they have done

Alibi was an event inspired by an experience designed by Nastassia Sinitsyna, Yauheniya Siadova, Alisa Matavilava from Belarus that centered on a group of people roleplaying fictional characters that were reuniting for one last party together. Durkan then decided to try to figure out a way to create a new experience that was specifically relevant to an Irish context. He worked collaboratively with a multi-disciplinary group of Irish people from across different art forms to design an experience that “explored the social context of ‘going out’ and partying and how people construct identities around these events and build alibis to experience them”.

The group included Durkan, artists Eilis McDonald and Áine McBride, filmmaker Stewart Lambert, theatremaker Jamie Harper and writer John Holten as well as artist Cillian Finnerty, Michelle Doyle, and archaeologist and game designer Ivan Pawle.

Alibi event promotional poster

 

The Idea

The idea has grown since its first incarnation and has been staged several more times in Ireland as well as being interpreted for different locations such as London, Zurich and Minsk. Each time it was staged, it was done in collaboration with a series of partners. One was held at Project Arts Centre as part of the curated programme at Live Collision, an international festival of live art in Dublin and another at Dublin Castle, in collaboration with the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Each iteration of the Alibi experience attracted a diverse range of participants with about 40-50 people at each event. Taking place in the centre of the capital city meant that it was accessible for people from across the country. The particular nature of the national transport system in Ireland means that the easiest routes all lead to Dublin rather than between other major cities. Participants travelled from across each of Ireland’s four provinces to be part of Alibi, coming from some of the more rural counties such as Leitrim, Kerry and Donegal as well as other big population centres such as Cork, Galway and Derry.

Larping

As a relatively new art form, larping has attracted people from all walks of life. Many have come to it from working in theatre – particularly improve theatre – and also contemporary art, but huge numbers come from other professions. This immersive experience gives participants a license to free themselves from their normal day-to-day lives and their own personality. The freedom to temporarily inhabit another person, while unscripted, is attractive to many people for a wide variety of reasons.

Filmed interviews with Alibi participants for evaluation

The participants in Alibi came from all over the country and from a range of professions and backgrounds, but they arrive and participate in creating the experience as equals. The setting is laid out by the ‘larp designer’ – in this case Durkan and his collaborators – but the experience is created collaboratively by all those involved, with each person making their own creative choices and steering the narrative one way or another.

The event begins with an extensive workshop phase introducing the concept of larping and the particular details of the experience before things get started. This allows newcomers a chance to grasp the approach and also gives time to get all the participants familiar with the context of the experience and their individual roles. The workshop time is a sort of bridging point between being themselves and becoming a new character for the duration of the experience. The principles of larping are also explained so that all participants are aware of how to interact with others during the shared experience. As the workshop ends, phones are left behind and the participants enter the 2-3 hour experience as their new characters.


The community

In a review for the performance website DRAFF, Áine Ní Laoghaire wrote: “With the fiction Alibi established, strangers attempted to create and become part of a community. Despite the reality of the odd situation we were in, no one around me blatantly broke the fiction. There was something deeply genuine in this unspoken agreement, and as a rule, despite the freedom to behave however we wished, people were kind to one another.”

Filmed interviews with Alibi participants for evaluation

After the experience ends, there is also a debriefing period where participants discuss their experiences with one another. This is an informal, social gathering where the participants are free to mix as their real selves and talk about the Alibi experience or anything else. A week later, another similar gathering takes place to allow for further discussion with added perspective once the adrenalin of the initial experience has worn off a little. The experience of interacting openly as fictional characters through larping – or other forms of theatre – can allow the participants to bond quicker than they might otherwise so the social interaction following the event is less inhibited because of the shared experience they’ve had through role playing.

Durkan has also gathered some of the participants together one year on to share their thoughts on camera for a film that is “part evaluation and part art piece”. Through these interviews, the range of motivations for participants to get involved has become apparent.

Alibi event promotional poster

According to Durkan: “Some people were interested in trying out the cultural practice of live action role play. Others wanted to push their social boundaries or have an alternative social experience. A number of participants wanted to understand someone they knew better by playing a character similar to them. Many wanted to understand themselves better by seeing the thoughts and actions of their character in contrast to their own. Most of all people wanted to see what it was like to be someone else.”


3. Relation to the goals of “bridging social capital”

The common thread in these motivations is “understanding”. The experience of trying a new activity, meeting new people, being a different person, viewing things from a different perspective – these are all means to developing a greater understanding of themselves and others. This fun, exciting, creative event also has a clear profound effect on participants in terms of their outlook on life and the people around them. Compared to some other art forms which have been looked at through the BRIDGING project, this desire to connect with unfamiliar social groups is a little more overt than in other cases where the creative experience is often the initial priority and the social benefits are recognized as a welcome after effect.

In order to reach a wide and diverse audience across the country, the promotion of the events has made use of the networks of all the collaborators who came from different fields. The larger organisations and venues who hosted the events promoted them as something slightly out of the ordinary in their programme and these are respected and trusted organisations, but word of mouth was the main driver for reaching participants. Having a team of people helping to devise and facilitate the event meant that each had some personal ownership of it and shared this within their own personal and professional circles with genuine enthusiasm.

The event was also promoted with an element of mystery which heightened the appeal for many. The idea of not knowing exactly what the experience would be and what role the participants would play is an enticing thrill that helps to make the event stand out from more traditional arts events where the audience is more passive and their experience is more predictable.

The host partners also helped significantly with various logistics in terms of facilitating access and technical support. The ability to plan an event in spaces that are experienced at hosting cultural events and large crowds eliminates some of the risks and barriers that would have been presented elsewhere, while the experience still seemed unique in the context of the venues’ wider programmes.

While larping is a very specific form of creative participation, the characteristics of this model could be adapted and developed in other circumstances. The collaborative approach to co-designing the framework for an experience is useful in maintaining an open thought process and offering multiple routes for promotion and involvement. The freedom to act and take action that contributes to the overall project as a participant is crucial in drawing people to the activity. The fact that larping is seen as something slightly apart from traditional theatre and culture makes it more welcoming or approachable for many people who would be reluctant to get involved with other art forms. Finally, the staging of Alibi in multiple circumstances presents a way of collaborative working between larger organisations or public bodies and artists, facilitators and participants. The co-creation is genuine within the larping framework and there is mutual trust and respect among all the collaborators which is essential to allow such an ambitious – and personal – experience to be attempted

 

References:

Mark Durkan http://www.markdurkan.com/

Nordic Larp: https://nordiclarp.org/what-is-nordic-larp/

Live Collision | Alibi: http://www.livecollision.com/portfolio/alibi/

DRAFF: Alibi review by Áine Ní Laoghaire: http://www.draff.net/alibi.html
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Case Study 3: The Congress of Regional Culture

By Agnieszka Dadak,
President, FAIE

 

1. The Background of the Project

The 3rd Congress of Regional Culture took place the days 17 – 20 of October 2017 in Cracow (South of Poland, Małopolskie Voiwodeship). The organiser of the event, from the very beginning in 2015, is the Małopolskie Cultural Center SOKÓŁ.

For three years now it has been a prestigious and extremely important event, addressing issues related to the protection of intangible cultural heritage and radiating throughout Poland and its regions. It is also a forum for the exchange of ideas aiming at disseminating knowledge about the culture of the regions.

The 3rd Congress of Regional Culture was attended by over 300 people

The third edition was attended by over 300 people: the regionalists, lovers and creators of culture, artists and scientists, managers and instructors of folklore groups from all over Poland, journalists, directors and employees of cultural institutions and – for the first time – directors of culture departments of marshal offices. Participants of the Third Congress represented 11 regions and 43 districts.


2. Who is involved and what they have done

The participants took part in some thematic panels and 10 workshops, as well as in some events presenting the culture of various regions- the representatives of the ethnographic regions of Małopolska and Silesia: Podhalańscy Highlanders, Nadpopradzcy Highlanders, Żywieccy Highlanders, Babiogórscy Highlanders, Eastern Krakowiacy, Western Krakowiacy, Lachy Sądeckie, Lachy Limanowskie, Lachy Szczyrzyckie and Pogórzanie. There was also a spectacle – a story about life, illustrated with music, dance, singing and narration with the participation of groups from Lachy Sądeckie and Eastern Krakowiacy, where about 100 performers cooperated. The event was accompanied by presentation of toys from the collection of Regional Culture Center in Bielsko-Biała.


3. Relation to the goals of “bridging social capital”

The activities relation to the goals of bridging social capital:

Because the Congress of Regional Culture idea refers to the fact that each region has its own specificity – these are some distinctive conditions, historical events, ethnicity of the groups occupying it, etc. People living in a common, distinguished spatially or historically area; develop their own, specific culture, distinguishing them from the other regions.

Because the Congress idea assumes, that the regional ‘own specificity’ is a distinguishing feature on the one hand and a basis for dialogue on the other hand. It is the foundation of identity and potential that can be strengthened through documenting, protection and education and also used as a promotional and economic advantage of the region.

Because the Małopolskie Voivodeship initiated the Congress in order to create a forum for exchange of ideas, aiming at dissemination of knowledge about the culture of regions and its ennoblement as a domain that shapes a person and determines how he or she later copes in the present.

Because the main theme of the first Congress (organised in 2015) was to ennoble intangible cultural heritage as “a factor of rapprochement, exchange and mutual understanding between people.” The inspiration to take up this topic was the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage, ratified by Poland in 2011.

Because the inspiration for the second Congress (in 2016) was a fragment of Pope Francis speech presented at the Wawel Castle in Kraków July 27, 2016: “Identity awareness, free from the mania of superiority, is essential to organize a community […] to inspire society and culture, keeping them faithful to tradition and at the same time open to renewal and for the future.”

Because the third edition, in 2017, was devoted to reflection on the “abilities” of the heritage of traditional culture, stimulation and shaping of which gives a chance of remaining alive. The subjects covered were, among others, about the ability to enter into intercultural dialogue, about the ability to regain lost members of the community cemented by specific heritage, and about the ability to assimilate outsiders, which is a real challenge – but also a great chance – in the present era (since the perception of “strangers” may be refreshing and enriching for the community).

Transmission gives a new dimension to heritage, because only when in touch with “others” we have the opportunity to show ourselves: our image of the world, our system of values, specific features of our collective imagination.

Only when we touch others we have the opportunity to show ourselves

 

4. The current situation

Activities in the field of promotion and dissemination knowledge about the cultural heritage of the Małopolska regions are being continued by the Congress organisers. In 2018 there were organised, among others:

  • 21st Nationwide Meetings of Children and Youth Carol Groups
  • Theatre Workshops for the instructors
  • 6th Meetings of the Małopolska Amateur Theatres
  • 36th Overview of Regional Bands, Groups, Instrumentalists, Singers and Folk Singers the name of Jędrzej Cierniak
  • 42nd Carpathian Festival of Children’s Regional Groups
  • 32nd Inter-voivodeship Sejmik of Rural Theatrical Ensembles
  • Inter-municipal Tournament of Recitative Art

5. Potential

The already realised three editions of the Congress have built a platform for cultural dialogue, where openness of the partners, accepting each other’s equivalence, is needed.

The Congress is also a platform for developing understanding based on discussion. A discussion about heritage can become response to contemporary problems, because culture dies without dialogue.

The Congress has a great potential for inter-regional exchange, based on inter-sectoral cooperation – since its participants are representatives of various environments, such as non-governmental organisations, academia, creators, culture experts, propagators of the cultures of national minorities, specialists in intercultural communication, ethnologists, ethnomusicologists, economists, journalists, regionalists, ethno-choreologists, culture animators…

The Congresses and accompanying events enable to exchange of ideas

The event is also gathering participants of various types of institutions and regions (such as theatres, museums, centres of culture and education etc. ) with which the Małopolskie Cultural Center SOKÓŁ cooperates, that  upgrade the development potential.


6. How this relates to the theme of the compendia

The Congresses and accompanying events:

  • Created an opportunity to participate in workshops conducted by folk artists;
  • increased the potential of inspiration for future activities of individuals and amateur groups;
  • increased curiosity of the world and knowledge about diversity of its cultures;
  • increased knowledge about how to become an ambassador of the tradition and culture of your region;
  • counteracted exclusion and stigmatization;
  • contributed to learning regional marketing on a micro scale through creating narrations, based on the energy of the local heritage;
  • involved and joined together people with various life- and professional experience;
  • enabled exchange of ideas, inspiration and exchange of experiences in the field of bringing to life, popularizing and assigning a “practical” dimension to the traditions of Polish villages of various regions;
  • enabled development of competences in the field of intercultural communication and management of a multicultural teams;
  • enabled to learning some mechanisms of human psyche, which makes us take “otherness” as a threat;
  • Promoted ethno-design showing how to find inspiration for creative activities in the traditional, folk culture and arts.

 

References:

http://www.kultura-regionow.pl/

http://www.mcksokol.pl/
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Case Study 4: OK – The Musical

By Damien McGlynn, Communications & Partnerships Director,

Voluntary Arts

 

1. Background of the project

The Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme (CAPP), funded by Creative Europe, brought together eight partner organisations across Ireland, the UK, Finland, Spain, Germany and Hungary to create an ambitious transnational cultural programme focusing on the collaborative arts practice. Tate Liverpool – one of the CAPP partners – had been deeply involved in collaborative practice since its foundation in 1988. Collaborative working and piloting new approaches to learning within a major art gallery were the norm at Tate Liverpool over the next 30 years.


2. Who was involved and what have they done

CAPP has initiated and funded residencies and commissions across Europe during their four-year project from 2015-2018. In late 2016, an open call was launched that offered an opportunity to devise a collaborative work at Tate Liverpool which engaged with communities from the city of Liverpool and from Lancashire to the north of Liverpool. The open call received about 160 entries but the standout proposal was from Berlin-based American artist Chris Kline.

OK: The Musical aimed to tell the story of a small town in upstate New York, near Albany. Kinderhook is where Chris Kline grew up and the idea was tell the entire history and folklore of this little-known town through a musical theatre piece developed and staged by the participants in the project. Tate Liverpool had already approached Super Slow Way to partner with them on the commissioning and management of the project. Super Slow Way is an arts commissioning programme working with local communities in Pennine Lancashire.

The idea of using a musical theatre piece to bring diverse communities together was intended to allow lots of potential routes into the project, through set design, writing, acting, music, costumes and much more. Kline, being new to the region, used the established contacts and trusted reputations of Tate Liverpool and Super Slow Way to make initial connections and approaches both in Liverpool and Burnley in Lancashire.

Tate Liverpool was the host of the project

The first group who were approached to be part of the project was the Choir With No Name, an organisation that runs choirs for people who have been affected by homelessness. One of their choirs meets weekly in the Bluecoat gallery in Liverpool. Kline spoke to them about taking part and had to put some work in to convince them to take part in the project. This would be the first time the group worked on original music so it was a significant departure for them.

Each of the groups that were approached usually had an existing connection to Tate Liverpool or Super Slow Way (or someone in their teams), but the effort in getting them on board for the musical was largely Kline’s. Coming to the area as an outsider meant he had a fresh perspective and new way of working, but it was his strong personal skills that brought people on board and made them comfortable. Spending time with each individual, talking, listening and valuing their opinions and input. This was all crucial when approaching groups from Burnley to take part in a project outside of their own locality.

The Valley Street Community Textiles Group were brought on board to help make pieces for the production and the Burnley Wood residents’ group joined to fulfil a number of roles across the project. Kline split his time equally between Liverpool and Burnley for most of the project, having weekly meetings with each group at the time and place that they were used to. Sociable meetings with food were important in these early meetings. This was important in building the trust and personal connection between the artist and each of the groups’ participants.

During the intense period of work on the project between February and April 2017, there were four or five occasions where the groups were brought together in Tate Liverpool to develop different aspects of the production and discuss how they thought the story should be told. Tate covered transport costs to bring people together and worked with Super Slow Way to manage the logistics and needs of all those who travelled from Burnley. Tate and the artist would like to have brought them all together more but the logistics and people’s availability made this impossible.

The social and welcoming atmosphere of these meetings was very important to making sure the participants integrated and felt comfortable enough to contribute meaningfully to the project. Kline’s efforts in building direct relationships and trust with the participants at the very beginning meant this was easier to achieve. Many of the participants from Burnley had never before been to Tate Liverpool and some of them, especially younger members, had never been to Liverpool. Again, a relaxed, sociable atmosphere with food helped to make everyone feel relaxed and though they often worked in their own groups, the collaborative nature of the production meant that they began to build relationships with other teams and groups.

OK: The Musical aimed to tell the story of a small town in upstate New York, near Albany – Kinderhook

Both Tate Liverpool and Super Slow Way are both effusive in their praise for Chris Kline, saying that the project would not have been the success it was without his thoughtful, open and considerate approach to working with such a diverse mix of people. Lindsey Fryer, Head of Learning at Tate Liverpool’s described the key characteristics that Kline possessed, saying he was “respectful” and established a good working dynamic within the group. “Participants understood his ownership of the work and respected that. Chris had great listening skills and provided a clear framework for all to understand their role. Within this framework it allowed their creativity to flourish. Chris understands group dynamics very well, he can deal with any type of person, and he knows how people think.”

Laurie Peake, Director of Super Slow Way, described how Kline made everyone feel equally important. “He made a personal connection with each and every participant. They were really valued. This created the right environment for people to feel able to unleash their creativity!” Super Slow Way acted as a bridge to bring these people into a new environment but it was the welcome provided by Kline and Tate Liverpool that made this a success, along with the focus already established on an end goal. “Any sense of difference melted away because they were all part of the one team – with a deadline!”

About 350 people from across Merseyside and Lancashire were involved in the project. As well as the groups mentioned previously, the artist worked with the Bluecoat’s Blue Room group, YPAS (Young People’s Advisory Service) and the Royal Court Community Theatre Choir. The entire project was seen as a public event too though, placing the process on an equal level with the finished product. The gallery space in Tate Liverpool used a production workshop for the duration of the commission was open to the public. One of the key cast members in the final performance was recruited after he had walked into the space one day by chance. All of this contributed to an active, interactive and creatively stimulating environment that welcomed and valued input from anyone who wanted to contribute.

Peake described the freedom that came with staging an original work, rather than restaging an existing piece. “There were opportunities for them to colour that in with their own input. They were each able to see their contribution to a bigger thing – feeling pride in playing their part in something to be staged in a prestigious venue. Everything was being developed concurrently so people could feel they had input.”

Peake also spoke of how the content of the musical resonated with local participants, despite being focused on a small town in the US that none of the participants had ever heard of before. But this micro-history of a community told a story that could be both familiar and fantastical. Many aspects were things that could easily be related to life in Liverpool or Burnley and this gave them all a personal connection to the work.


3. The potential

A project like this is reliant on a number of factors coming together to create an environment conducive to creative collaboration and each is important to consider. The personal skills of the artist (or facilitator) have been highlighted as a crucial part of what made the participants feel welcome and valued. The participants themselves need to be bold and brave, taking creative risks and expressing their own views – something which may happen more easily in a supportive and collaborative environment.

The two partner organisations involved both brought a wealth of experience and a trusted position within their communities. Tate Liverpool has embedded itself within the local community in Merseyside for the past 30 years, but has also bravely embraced more collaborative and co-creative approaches to its programming, learning and engagement.  The willingness of a big, established arts venue to put their trust in an artist and to be open and welcoming to community-led project development is one of the key reasons why this project stands out.

As part of the CAPP network, the project has been presented at events in Dublin and elsewhere and shared through European-wide channels. A documentary film was made showing how the musical was put together. The participating groups were all brought back together for a celebratory event and meal and they were shown rough edits of this documentary to get their feedback and input to ensure that the story of the project was told in a fair, accurate and representative way rather than being entirely from an institutional perspective.


4. Relation to the goals of “bridging social capital”

All projects are unique – and in particular, collaborative projects are always different due to the partners involved – so there is a cumulative effect within an organisation of having this kind of activity in their programme. But there is also a short term memory in some institutions so it is important to make sure the learning from a project like OK: The Musical is surfaced and made visible throughout the organisational structure. Celebrating innovation is key in getting this kind of practice embedded in an organisation’s future strategy.

It’s also important in maintaining the relationships built with new communities. Temporary projects can establish a relationship with individuals and communities but a shift in organisational strategy can allow that relationship to be maintained and to grow over time. Chris Kline has kept the banner made by the Valley Street Community Textile Group as an artwork and has consulted the group on touring the piece internationally. Keeping those personal links between Tate Liverpool, Super Slow Way and Chris Kline and the participants and groups is what will really make a significant difference in building long lasting links across communities.

 

References

Super Slow Way: https://superslowway.org.uk/projects/o-k-the-musical/

OK: The Musical: http://okthemusical.com/

Documentary film: https://vimeo.com/253028135

Cultbytes interview with Chris Kline: http://cultbytes.com/all/interview-christopher-kline/

CAPP (Collaborative Arts Partnership Programme): http://www.cappnetwork.com/ 
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 Case Study 5: The Beskidy Highlanders’ Week of Culture

By Agnieszka Dadak,
President, FAE

 

1. Background of the project

In the summer 2018 there will be the 55th Beskidy Highlanders’ Week of Culture, taking place in several various towns and villages of Southern Poland (on the borderland of the Ślaskie Voivodeship and Małopolskie Voivodeship).

The event is being organised by the Regional Culture Center in Bielsko-Biała together with Municipal Cultural Center in Żywiec. Beskidy Highlanders’ Week of Culture is the biggest in Poland and one of the biggest in the world folklore event, being organised since 1954.


2. Who was involved and what have they done

The Festival includes two main events:

  • Festival of Polish Highlanders Folklore, which is the largest meeting of the Polish highlanders, bands, music bands, singers, instrumentalists, and artists of folk art, folk culture specialists and audience that loves highlander folklore . The festival aims to cultivate and promote the wealth of all the mountain folk culture ethnic groups and groups and enclaves forming and active at the mountains and foothills area. It is a review of ensembles and soloists presenting the most valuable and authentic values in singing, music, dances, rituals and folk customs. Festival of Polish Highlanders Folklore includes a contest of regional song and dance ensembles and bands contest, Contest of singing groups, folk singers and instrumentalists (including “master and disciple”). Contest is directed to participants presenting the culture of Polish origin. The festival is accompanied by exhibitions and fairs of folk art.
  • International Folklore Meetings that are held during the Beskidy Highlanders Week of Culture since 1990. The basic premise of IFM is to present and to understand the cultural heritage of different nations. The main emphasis, in accordance with the rules, is placed on the authenticity of the songs, music, dances, rituals and customs.

Every year several groups from around the world take festival audience on a remarkable, often very exotic journey. Their struggle is evaluated by the International Artistic Council consisting of eminent experts in folklore, ethno-musicologists and choreographers.

Poster from the festival

The best group for the entire presentation is awarded the Grand Prix and six teams receive awards for the individual elements of the program. IMF is held under the auspices of the International Council of Societies of Folklore Festivals and Folk Art (CIOFF).

In 2018 there will be around 100 ensembles from several countries participating.

  • Promotion of social capital

The activities relate to the goals of promoting social capital:

  • Because the idea of ​​the Festival is to create a space, where non-governmental organizations, cultural institutions, dance/musical ensembles and cultural researchers present their achievements in the field of protection, documentation and popularization of the folk culture attainments of their countries.
  • Because each time the Festival creates a space for getting to know people from different cultures and creates an opportunity to preserve cultural heritage.
  • Because all the concerts and shows are available for the wide public free of chargé – everybody interested may come.
  • Because the event is accompanied by several regional events, that are also promoted within the Festival.

3. The current situation

During the Festival, there are also numerous accompanying regional events organised, such as the following events in 2018:

  • 49th Festival of the Polish Highlanders Folklore in Żywiec
  • 29th International Folklore Meetings in Żywiec
  • 71st Highlanders Celebrity in Jabłonków
  • 24th Istebiański Picnic in Istebna
  • 40th Wawrzńcowe Hudy in Ujsoły


4. Potential

The Festival has great potential for development. It became one of the biggest cultural and touristic events in the region.

It is also an element of students’ education in the fields of: cultural studies, ethnography, and art history.

The Festival is a member of the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts, CIOFF.


5. Relation to the theme of inter-regional bridging

  • The Festival makes it possible to meet people living in neighbouring towns / villages, preserving their specific, regional/local culture and traditions (in two neighbouring Voivodeships – Śląskie and Małopolskie);
  • The Festival takes place also on the borderland of closely coexisting cultures: Polish, Czech and Slovakian (international dimension);
  • Participation in the event brakes cultural barriers – there are also ensembles from more remote countries present (as Brasil, Turkey, Mongolia, Serbia – taking part in the International Folklore Meetings);
  • It supports the folk ensembles at presenting their attainments, the culture of their regions (and countries);
  • Is a multidisciplinary event, including presentations of folk art, culinary traditions, music, singing, dance…);
  • The Festival promotes common cultural heritage of the Beskidy Mountains region, promoting the Podbeskidzie Region and Beskidy Euroregion – but also the traditions of neighbouring Małopolskie Region;
  • It builds and develops networks of cooperation of the local communities and local authorities from various regions in Poland (and in the world);

 

References:

http://rok.bielsko.pl/tkb.php
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Case Study 6: Madness of Summer – the Askov Event

By Bente von Schindel, Secretary General,

Kulturelle Samråd i Danmark

1. Background of the Project

Every year at the end of July, a large group of amateur musicians gather for a symphony orchestra event at a Danish folk high school – Askov Folk High School – far from the capital. They come from all over the country, i.e. from all the 5 regions that Denmark formally is divided in.

The event can celebrate its 70th anniversary this year, and the number of participants has doubled over the 70 years and is now over 300.

The Landmark of Askov Folk High School     

Denmark, as mentioned, is divided into 5 regions, but there are no more than 5,000 inhabitants in the country and the distance from the northernmost part to the southernmost is only 550 kilometres. Therefore, nobody has made real thoughts about organizing activities solely for the purpose of bringing people from different regions together. But of course you’ll find some differentials between people from the north of Jutland, the south of Zealand and Copenhagen.


2. Who was involved and what have they done

In Askov people from Jutland, Funen, Zealand and Copenhagen will gather. And here doctors, lawyers, members of parliament, unemployed and unskilled people will gather.

And children play side by side with their grandparents. But nobody thinks they are doing it in order to build bridges – neither at the regional level, the generational plan nor the social plan – because they all have a common platform and passion – the classical music. But everybody enjoys the combination of people of different ages, education, part of the country etc. And everyone develops professionally and personally from the relationship with people who aren’t from the same region as them but play with as much enthusiasm.

And in the demanding works, everyone helps each other across different boundaries. For the program is demanding. I.e. are the works to be played in 2018 Stravinsky: Divertimento from The Fairy’s Kiss, Benjamin Britten: Peter Grimes, Mahler: Symphony No. 1 and Beethoven: Symphony No. 5.

Rehearsal of “Peter Grimes”

The classic amateur music in Denmark

The classic amateur music in Denmark has a long history. When the Askov event started in 1949 there were approx. 40 amateur symphony orchestras around the country. Today there has been a doubling of the orchestras, and this corresponds well to about 3.000 orchestral musicians. Thus, 10 % of these gather at Askov High School every summer, supplemented by a number of foreign amateur musicians, preferably from Sweden, Norway, UK, Germany and the Netherlands, so in a way the event is also building bridges between people from different countries.

3. The potential

From interviews with participants:

“The great thing about the yearly Askov event is that it brings people of all ages, from all sorts of different environments and from different regions together. The happiness of playing music, which everyone has in common, makes you experience an intimate gathering with friends, often seen only one week a year”.

(Female violin player from France)

“And I totally fell in love with the atmosphere, the music joy and all the weird and helpful people I met. That summer a whole new world was opened for me”.

(Male horn player from Copenhagen)

“If Askov was a religion, I would be a dedicated member!”

(Conductor, the Netherlands)

 

People from all regions and of all ages are joining the course

“Askov is a sanctuary where you are together across age, education, political view, job, and culture, region – together on an exalted purpose of achieving beauty, insight and music. And I love it!”

(Female violin player from Copenhagen)

”If you are already from the earliest years are experiencing the joy of being active, see what it means to play with people who are different from yourself, if you contribute to a musical community, listen to others with another meaning and receiving instructions from people that may not agree with you there is a high probability that the interest and the desire to cultivate music remains intact for the rest of life – for the benefit of oneself and others”.

(Female violin player from the middle of Jutland)

“You quickly form a secret union that has led to sympathies, friendships, togetherness and some love for sure too”.

(Male clarinet player from Copenhagen)

“The music here exists by virtue of our collective specialness … during the crazy collective Askov Event; our common music vision is quite unique and very pronounced”.

(Male viola player from Funen)

A place to learn about music and people

4. Relation to the theme of inter-regional bridging

In interviews specific about being together with people from other regions the answers are:

“Here all boundaries and differences between people disappears/vanish and through the intense love for music the impossible happens”.

“Socially, the event was a very happy experience for me”.

“The music here exists by virtue of our collective specialness … during the crazy collective Askov week; our common music vision is quite unique and very pronounced”.

 

References:

Musisk Center Askov: http://musiskcenter.dk/

Askovstævnet: http://www.daos.dk/sommerstaevnet

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