Polish Association - Gdansk Branch
TJ arts (our old name)
Land of Harmony - Slovakia
Running from October 2008 to the end of June 2010
What follows is from the general introduction to the project brought up to date - apologies for any shifting between future and past tenses. Editing is such fun!!
Each member of the partnership works with learners with special needs (intellectual disabilities). The target group is composed of adult learners, trainers, local community groups. Each institution wants to integrate their disabled learners in the European community by means of theatre and music workshops.
The participants wanted to take part in European cooperation to exchange experience, good practice, information and methods in order to apply all this in their own organisations. Often the learners with disabilities and their trainers lack opportunities to gain benefits from networking with people in the same situation in other countries. Also the challenge of being confronted with cultural differences would enhance their integration and knowledge of European citizenship. It would be a process of intercultural learning in ways of working with people with intellectual disabilities in European countries.
The objectives of the partnership were:
- to exchange different experiences in theatre and music as a tool of empowerment of people with disabilities.
- to create new ways of working with disabled people
- to create learning possibilities for participants with disabilities so that they can learn from each other
- to compare artistic theatre and music techniques and models
- integration/inclusion of disabled people in the European community through theatre and music.
- positive image-building through valuable art of disabled learners.
- empowerment and independency of intellectually disabled people through arts workshop and travelling to European countries.
- intercultural learning by exchanging of experience in work with intellectually disabled people.
Poland and Slovakia were both involved with theatre with people with intellectual disabilities. We and the Poles work with music as a tool of empowerment. The exchange of experience would involve meetings between partners that want to exchange theatre experience and between those working in music, followed by a final meeting to put the whole project together in Gdansk in May of 2010. This meeting to bring together all the activities in the theatre and music workshops. Finally presenting a theatre show with live music. Most of the actors from those theatres would be disabled people and young volunteers. Also live music would be played mostly by disabled people.
It would be impossible - and probably quite boring to go over such a long project so I will keep things short and let the pictures and videos speak. As we aren't a specialist group we went into partnership with Together Borders, Supported Housing, and out of this relationship came Billy who proved an absolute gem. Having severe autism and no speech we worked at all times within his constraints. One of the great joys of working with him for a long period was seeing him extend his abilities and build up such solid relationships with us. We also worked well with the support staff who came with him - quite a number of the period of the project. Out of the support workers Chris and John got to go to gdansk with Billy, alongside Alan, Fin, Haley and Justin from TRASH - flying out on the 22nd May for a return on the 29th. This you might remember was at the tail end of the worries about the Icelandic volcano.
From Monday to Thursday the group worked with Polish musicians and integrated their work with the Slovakian groups theatre piece. On the Friday they held final rehearsals on on Friday night took part in the Festival Akcept 2010. The festival went well and the group came back the following day having made many new friends and with promises of meeting again. In fact Haley is going back over at the end of July.
Picture and video follow on in other articles