The “In my Art” – INclusive Multicultural societies through Art Training handbook aims to share art-based practices with youth workers, educators, teachers, youth leaders, organisations, and anyone interested in discovering new approaches and ideas to promote intercultural community-building through art(s).
The purpose of this handbook is to create a link between art-based methods and a combination of non-formal and informal educational paths to stimulate the active participation of young people and involve the community, being inspired by the experience of Arte Migrante. The latter is a spontaneous practice established in Bologna in 2012 (www.arteMigrante.eu). Today, it has twenty-six informal groups of youth and adults running free art-based intercultural activities in their city.
The “In my Art” experience confirms and shows that promoting social inclusion of people with fewer opportunities because of their migratory background requires the whole community’s involvement and not creating targeted environments.
In the context of the “In my Art” project, art refers to any cultural expression (such as visual art, dance, music) serving as the “excuse” to get together. The key is creating open and inclusive environments that allow people to share their culture using different languages (arts).
The practices described in the handbook were implemented during the local “In my Art” project activities between December 2020 and July 2021. These took place in Italy (Bologna and Palermo), the United Kingdom (Liverpool), France (Lille), Greece (Thessaloniki), Germany (Bremerhaven) and Spain (Malaga). They began with a training programme for youth workers in October 2019. The training was based on the results of an “Action-Research” (Intellectual Output 1) on the impact of art on social Inclusion among young people between December 2019 and September 2020.
The action-research helped youth workers better understand how art can develop intercultural and inclusive communities into non-formal education paths. It directly involved our target group (young people) in undertaking the investigation and the piloting phase of art-based practices – in and with – the local communities. This direct involvement was a key factor that made the “In my Art” experience relevant to young people’s concerns and needs in the different local communities in Europe.
In this perspective, peer-to-peer methodologies and horizontal approaches represent an educational strategy that favours the possibility of change:
“Feeling a commonality with the other people involved, sharing similar problems or common experiences with them, fostering the credibility and effectiveness of educational communication” (Vitone M.)
The innovative element of the “In my Art” experience, contained in this handbook as a reading and intervention tool, consists of various methodologies and techniques for developing inclusive and intercultural communities adapted to different socio-cultural and educational contexts. This element is grounded in recognising the uniqueness and complexity of community dynamics that need to be known to act as agents of change.
The project was directly affected by the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. It led to a rethinking of the methods and objectives by which the intervention had been designed.
During the first lockdown in March 2020, experienced in many countries in Europe and worldwide, the “In my Art” project represented an anchor of resistance and hope for many young people and youth workers, stimulating creative thinking and the development of digital technology skills. Therefore, the present work represents the memory of an exceptional historical period. The partnership assumes the responsibility to tell and highlight how beyond differences, we are all vulnerable human beings seeking a future of peace, relationships, and good living together in diversity.