How exploring Arts can be not just a learning opportuninty but also a vehicle of inclusion? With the first months of local activities foreseen by our strategic partnership “Art of Inclusion”, funded by the European Programme Erasmus+, all the four partners of the project gave their practical answer to this question. Associazione Uniamoci Onlus- coordinator (Italy), Diakonisches Werk Bremen e.V. (Germany), Centro Social e Paroquial Santos Mártires (Portugal), Fundatia Crestina Diakonia Filiala Sfantu Gheorghe (Romania), partner of the project, are organizations working in the field of social inclusion of people with disabilities, who had some months to work on the creation of descriptions of six local artists’ career and works (some from previous time and some living ones): target group of the activity were groups of learners made of adults (volunteers) and adults with disability. How to actively involve them? Each organization used his own method to reach the result and overcome the differences; here a summary of how the workshop was held.
At first each national group organized some meetings with the group of learners for the selection of the artists to be explored: each learner had the chance to propose some artists, some information about them were collected and presented and the six artists were chosen by voting or by drawing; interesting the choice of the German partner to make an open casting for the selection of the artists from former time on facebook, which gave some public attention to the partnership activities.
After that it was time to collect information and write the texts about the artists: the groups were made of people with very different abilities so tricks were used to make the activities more dynamic and allow the active involvement of all the learners, for example the Portuguese partner proceeded to search for historical details of their region and in particular the rural world so the users made several walks where the physical activity was successfully combined with the search and collection of interesting data of cultural heritage or both the Italian and the German partner visited some art exhibitions; about the living artists it was also possible to meet them and to interview them or to invite them to have a live exhibition, so the research for information were combined with the opportunity to meet the artist, asking questions, enjoying their art in live performances or even working together.
About the process of collection of information and creation of the texts, in Italy the educators or some volunteers or users with a higher cognitive abilities looked for a big text about life and while some small groups of learners were looking for the artists’s work and small description, another group was reading the information underlining the most important ones to be included in the text to be typed on computer; the works to be explored were selected by voting and considering specific criteria and their descriptions were enriched with the considerations by the learners. The final text was read and discussed in the group to share and consolidate the learning outcomes; in this phase, if we were working on a living artist, the group prepared and interview for the artist to be made during a meeting with him. This collaborative and supportive approach allowed to people with physical and or mental and or cognitive disability and able-bodied volunteers to work together giving their active contribution to the workshop. “This experience was rewarding for all, including the technical team, because it was very good to research the artists and their importance in the region behind the mountains in Portugal” - Sergio Afonso, the responsible of the project in Centro Social e Paroquial Santos Mártires.
Soon we will be able to publish and share the results of this activity: an international collection of descriptions of the career of European artists that have a link with the home cities of the partners of Art of Inclusion, realized with the active contribution of our diabled learners and volunteers.
In the meanwhile we would like to leave you with a consideration by Jürgen Stein, the responsible of the project in Diakonisches Werk Bremen e.V. : ”even if we did not look specifically for this point - each of the deceased artists showed in the biography some impairment (early trauma, psychic depression, walking impairment), which was indeed not unimportant for the life and work. This supports our statement that each one, artist or not, is different and in a way impaired.”