My first Action Research experience in the project “In my art”

Hi everyone, I’m Cyrielle and I took part in the Action Research of the In my Art Project and I would like through these few lines to tell you how I lived this experience.

Everything started when I was implicated in the organisation of the Kick-Off meeting here in Bremerhaven. The kick-off meeting is the first meeting between all the partners to clear up the steps and deadlines of the project. It was a very nice meeting as I met different people from different parts of Europe, and we all exchange about the project (but not only) during two days.

One of the next tasks I did, was to conduct interviews. It was for me a first experience, as I never did it before and took pleasure doing it. I can here tell you a funny anecdote. I was in a bar in Bremerhaven, was talking to a new guy I didn’t know before and was telling him about the In my art Project and that I was looking for young people to interview. He was intrigued and interested, and we decided to meet the next day to do the interview and since then we stayed in good contact.
Hence through the interviews, I was able to meet new people and to experience more about my own city and what was going on concerning art.

After the interviews, I had to analyse the data we collected through the interviews but also through the questionnaires we shared. It was here again very interesting to read and listen to the responses of people concerning art. To be honest, it was not an easy task but I definitely improved my IT skills making power point presentations and graphs.

This project also inspired me on this corona time to be more artsy. I then decided to build a table with woods, to try painting or even sculpting. The beauty of this project is that the people I met through my interviews gave me some tips and helped me with the manipulation of woods. I was at that time very grateful for it!

Being part to an european erasmus + is always an interesting experience through which you learn a lot about others but also about yourself.

Art is a wonderful way to connect people and I can only hope that thanks to the project more people will realise it and make such connections.

Cyrielle Kugler

How has the COVID-19 situation affected young artist?

Asociación Caminos wanted to know more about it and collected feedback from 3 different young artists in Málaga. Overall, we can say that the impact which the lockdown situation had on them differed, though it always proved to be challenging and, in occasions, beneficial.
A young poet, although he found himself with more time to pursue his craft, which usually might inspire people to express their thoughts on the specific situation, felt a lack of motivation and inspiration to create art due to the lack of freedom. Though incapable of finding the proper inspiration to write, he decided to take up drawing for the first time in years, with an unexpected positive result.

Another artist, this time a photographer, pointed out that while maybe other artists, like writers, might be better suited to working from home, for her this time of “home office” takes away from her time and ability to focus on her work and for abstraction. The transformation of the home into a workplace also was something she had reservations about, though given circumstances, she and fellow photographers decided to give it their best still and engage in competitions to see who can get the best shots from home.
A young actress has seen her castings and some projects she was participating in stalled for the moment, as face-to-face meetings and activities are impossible. During this time, she has continued working using online programs to meet other artists and even to participate in online castings. Though her normal activities have been paused, the situation has proved a chance to meet important people in the film industry and to build online networks of professionals of this sector. Despite the lockdown, the more intensive use of online communities and she could make new connections due to this that she wouldn’t have made otherwise.

Arte Migrante

The “In My Art” project started in Bologna during an Arte Migrante evening in which Bianca talked about the project and with Jenny they painted the hands of some participants with the symbol of “In My Art”. After that, that was in the beginning of January, we met in February for the Action Research Workshop in a place that is called “Il Cerchio Dalla Libia a Via Libia”, a gathering for many young immigrants that are just arrived in Bologna. The place is runned by Eta, a very generous lady that provides food and accommodation for them. Arte Migrante started in November to do an event every month there and so some of the youngster of the place already knew some of the “In My Art” participants. The workshop lasted one afternoon and after we had dinner together there. We started the workshop with a “knowing each other” game in which every participant had to discover some personal facts about the others. Then we did a creative brainstorming on “Art” and “Inclusion”, with drawings, words and images.

Regarding “Inclusion” here are some extracts of what was shared: “Inclusion is to find a home”, “Inclusion is to be/express yourself”, “Inclusion asks for attention”, “Inclusion is the art of improvisation in which no note is wrong”, “Inclusion is knowing each other, is diversity, be open to the change, needs attention, is questioning yourself”, “Inclusion is to be open to dialogue”. For Art we have: “Art expresses a culture”, “Art is what your hands can do”, “Art is about looking elsewhere from the same place”, “Art is passing time counting the hours differently”, “Art gives joy”, “Art is helpful to life”, “Art is always social”, “Art is empathy and humanity”, “Art is a universal language”, “Art has no rules”, “Art is everywhere”, “Art is a way for inclusion that unites a society”. It was a very comfortable moment in which we shared our thoughts and feelings in a safe space, with no judgement and discrimination. One of us didn’t speak very well Italian so we had to be careful to express us in a simple but clear way. After this part we discussed local organizations that work with art as a tool of inclusion, and we found that in Bologna there are some (other than Arte Migrante): Cantieri Meticci that deals with theater, Vicini D’Istanti is a social tailoring that works with immigrants, AfroBeat is a collective of musicians that involves different neighborhoods in Bologna, young and old people from all over the world. In little groups we tried to analyze what constitutes the strengths of making art with different kinds of people and creating a community that has the value of inclusion. Starting from this discussion about local organizations, finally we wrote a draft of possible questions to ask during the action-research and the interviews. We wanted to do the interviews in person but the Covid-19 changed our plans, so we had to do them on-line to our friends or family members. Some of us like Tiziana did them to the housemates. Eli said that “The interviews went pretty good, because we came near to people’s mentality to try to understand what are people needs, what they like or not about Arte Migrante for example. Trough the interviews we understood that people really wants to meet other people here in Bologna”.

For every one of us was very interesting doing the interviews especially for some that study sociology or anthropology. It was a way to practice a sort of field work. What came out was also that in Bologna lots of youngsters know Arte Migrante and other associations but they don’t always participate at these events. “That’s because Bologna is a sort of passing through place in which nobody is permanent” said Tiziana. Aurora thought was that: “Maybe most of the time the problem is the place of the gathering because if it’s too far I’m dissuaded from going, but also if I don’t know nobody there maybe I don’t feel like going”. All together we suggested that the people that organize events for sharing personal stories and art should focus on making new participants feel at ease, and explain in a simple but clear way what they are doing and what the aim of the event is. Mamadi asserted the importance for young immigrants to feel included in the community of the city they live in, and he considers art to be the best way, because it goes beyond language. He suggested that maybe the city could offer more events with a mix of Italian and African dances and music, open to everybody so that people can meet. He also mentioned the fact that many of his friends don’t speak Italian very well and this makes it difficult for them to be aware of events but also other facilities that the city offers. The city and its organizations should work to provide more dialogue and information not only in Italian. Eli concluded: “In this project you can find the world in a room” and that when you go to Arte Migrante: “You can feel that is a valuable thing and that people feel at home”.

2nd Transnational Partner meeting Online

Due to the Covid-19 emergency, the second Transnational partner meeting that was supposed to take place in Spain among Caminos organization was cancelled and held online via the Zoom platform. Even though it was not possible to benefit from the intercultural experience abroad and to know closely the work field of the Spanish partner, we experimented new techniques and strategies of virtual communication stimulating our creativity. The meeting lasted two days and gave us the opportunity to share about the state of the art of the Action-Research and put the basis for the Training course for youth workers that will take place in October 2020. Stay tuned!

What is art? More than one definition!

Within societies we see art everywhere. It can be pretty much anything as art is subjective and is down to the individuals’ perspective. Understandably, throughout different cultures and religions art is separate; it can be interchangeable for some but fairly separate for others. The ways in which art is different is there are so many forms of it as it is a way of expression that has evolved over time.

So what is art? Art is seen as a process that can deliberately have contrasting elements that appeal to our emotions. It encircles an inclusive scale of human activities that we see in daily lives such as: music, film, literature, and paintings etc. Personally, art – for me – is cinema. Everything about the film industry fits into my definition of art. It is the most advanced piece created as it captures the visual images in a dynamic way. Of course there are other elements that fit into film such as acting, scripture, cinematography and directory. But the whole commodity of it is the most fascinating and intriguing aspect.

Many people have their own definitions of art and that is exactly how it should be. Nobody is the same and that is how art is in a way, because no artwork is truly the same. On this note I feel as though this is why some young people struggle with the question ‘What is art?’ because realistically there is no real answer as everybody’s is going to be different. Furthermore, an issue that we are seeing in our communities is the lack of art facilities or activities. Without a doubt a lot of youth are not as involved in art projects from what I have noticed since growing up. We have the most obvious ways in which they are that could be art classes in school/college, however I feel as though it is difficult to be involved within such activities outside of an educational background. In Expanding Horizons there has been a push to change this and to get younger people involved with their community in expressing themselves.

The ‘In my art’ project is going to give that push to people who struggle with expressing themselves and can help them do it throughout their own form of art. A group of us met up in February regarding the project and we all got to discuss the thinking behind artwork and what it means to us, what skills are necessary and how to encourage others to take part. We came up with questionnaires that we were going to ask members of the public to answer so we could see what the everyday person would have to comment on the project. By doing this it would be easier to understand the multicultural variations within the community of Merseyside.

From researching in this project it has even helped me further my interest in other art forms. Cinema is my top one as I connect to it the most but from hearing other people’s opinions I have taken an interest in Modern Art. As a result I have begun to appreciate more pieces I see, as in March I took a trip to the Tate in Liverpool and was able to feel a certain way towards the paintings and sculptures there. Besides, this is the aim of the project. To open our minds and get a better understanding of art and what it means to us.

Ellie Leacy, 20.

Art and social inclusion on the spot: In My Art goes on facing challenges and opportunities

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.

Kick-Off Meeting in Bremerhaven

The kick off meeting of the project “In my art” took place from the 20th to the 21st of November 2019 in the child care center CONNECT (AWO), in Bremerhaven (Germany). During the two days meeting the participating organisations got to know each-other better through formal and non formal methodologies and defined all the necessary management aspects for the success of the project.

The kick-off meeting has been an opportunity to directly know the workfield of the German partner and enrich the intercultural learning process of participants.