1st European Forum - The Contribution of the Arts to Intercultural Dialogue

8th June 2009,
Brussels, Belgium
- platform annual forum

Chris TorchOur event was framed by two speeches and two responses (by an academic and by a journalist).

Chris Torch from Intercult (Sweden) presenting views from the arts on their role in Intercultural Dialogue:
"Social activists, use the arts! Artists, engage with other threads in order to be in synch with your time! … The arts can stand out by offering intercultural meeting places, creating microcosms with macro-effects, offering non-verbal communication and by linking international collaboration with local intercultural work."
Joanne Evans-Boiten

Joanne Evans-Boiten from the Mamre Project (Netherlands) looking at the arts, theatre in particular, from the perspective of work with asylum seekers:
"There are many organisations that help undocumented people with food, shelter, housing etc, but little is done to help them cope with their situation emotionally. The arts can be therapeutic to them. The arts can also get information across by speaking to people’s hearts rather than their heads. Through the arts people discover their common humanity. They help build teams and society at large."

The centre piece of the day were discussion groups which revolved around the following themes:

  • Making marginalised groups visible, legitimising their presence and perspectives and improving wider social attitudes towards them

  • Highlighting similarities rather than differences between people by showing historic and current connections between different cultures and human experiences

  • Providing a different language where things can be understood by people who do not share a single language and where challenging ideas and experiences can be expressed safely

  • Providing safe meeting spaces with the possibility of encounter with other cultures without a commitment to further engagement

  • Providing a source of affirmation and confidence building (focusing on people’s creativity and achievements, providing enjoyment)

Read the full report of the event

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