Despite the challenge of the coronavirus, “In My Art” project is proceeding in Palermo as in the 7 cities of the 6 countries involved (England, Spain, Greece, France, Germany, Italy) thanks to the energy of a multi-ethnic research team: Angie, Arianna, Destiny, Stefania, Elena, Ibra and Alhagie form the beautiful team of researches on the subject of art as a tool to promote social inclusion.
Why this research? The aim is to give young people a voice on how artistic expressive forms can help to create a more inclusive and intercultural communities. As Arianna says “I believe that art is the strongest way of communication and its fundamental characteristic is going straight to the heart of those who create it. Its uniqueness is immense and its ability to bring people together is even more! And that is why my colleagues and I are working together so that everyone understands its power and see the beauty of a colorful world!”. And Stefania adds, “art creates connections with others, even with those who apparently seem extremely different”.
How does this research take place?, you’ll probably ask. At the beginning, this group from various backgrounds reflected on the meaning of the term ‘research’: what is art? social inclusion? who are the young people and whom exactly is this project targeting? what is a community? how would we like it to be? does multicultural exist in nature or is it a construction? Thus, through non-formal education activities, everyone has contributed with his/her own thoughts and experience. According to Angie “it was incredible how we got involved in team building activities and discussed on these important issues among us”.
Alongside with the construction of the work team, the young researchers have elaborated the survey questions, along with the groups led by the organizations of the other European countries involved in the project.
The intent is to select and synthesize the most common questions and easily transferable ones in different socio-cultural contexts. And it was precisely in the moment of “stretching” and preparation for conducting the interviews that the virus broke into our lives, confronting us with many challenges. So, as Elena explains, “together with the other guys we had to organize and find alternative solutions to keep going on, because we really believe in this project and we really want to carry it out”. By transforming this challenge into learning, Ibra took “the opportunity to develop new digital skills, especially in the study of problems to bring solutions. So that is how I learned to work in a team even from the distance”. The interviews like this, were made through video calls and telephone calls, an experience through which Alhagie “learned how to interview people but also how to make people understand that they are being listened”. Even from home, the group has carried out activities aimed at making the project known and has encouraged the participation of other young people, as in the case of the meeting on Radio Comunitaria, a new web frequency born in Palermo thanks to the local associations Maghweb and Arci Tavola Tonda, which offers space to the authentic information: “it was very motivating and fun to be part of it” (Angie).
The project therefore continues its path thanks to its researchers and ambassadors proposing a chance of changing towards a more inclusive world. The following phases will see the publication of the research results, a work that will offer interesting ideas to reflect on the city and its community and which will serve to plan and create artistic-creative workshops led by young people in all the cities where the partners organizations of the project are based. The workshops will be inspired by the experience of Arte Migrante. Finally, after 9 months of experimentation, the experiences lived in each country of Europe will be analysed and synthesized in order to develop guidelines aimed to offering tools to understand and apply arts-based practices as a vehicle for the construction of inclusive and intercultural communities.