S.P.A.C.E – Sustainable Partnerships for Arts and Culture in Europe
Although most villages in Albania and Romania have designated cultural centers, such spaces are still anchored in mindsets from the previous totalitarian regimes and disconnected from the present life of communities. The situation in East-Germany is different, but has comparable roots and backgrounds in history. Meanwhile, alos new community spaces emerge in non-urban areas, providing new models of social activation through culture.
With S.P.A.C.E in 2022 we aimed at testing partnership models among cultural practitioners in rural and smalltown communities from the regions Central Romania, North Albania and East Germany. The partners icebauhaus, Mihai and Maria Fratila Foundation, Fagaras Research Institute and Tek Bunkeri are initiators of MOCI Balkans, enabling new partnerships of cultural spaces and between creative pioneers. With S.P.A.C.E (Sustainable Partnerships for Arts and Culture in Europe) we have activated local initiatives and inspired collaborators to develop future-oriented cultural solutions to systemic challenges. Cultural SPACES in rural areas can re-emerge as spaces of freedom placed at the heart of local community development.
We have implemented three stages of the project: The first phase of basic research and peer-engagement, which consisted of virtual exchanges with engaged peers, and mixed research in the first month of 2022. Building on the learnings from phase one, we have developed strategies among peers and communities to test various types of exchange. This process was guided by virtual activities and two study trips to Romania and Albania in May 2022. The activation phase in July 2022 tested our practical exchange and different types of collective impact through the co-production of the Micro Festival in Romania.
During the study trip in Romania (May 2022) we had the opportunity to meet, interview or talk to 17 practitioners of the 10 visited independent spaces, initiatives, and local public institutions in the town of Făgăras and four villages in the area. From the beginning, the Albanian context was slightly different, when it came to the identification of cultural spaces and/ or initiatives esp. in rural areas. During the study trip in Albania (May 2022) we have focused on small organizations outside the capital in the cities of Laç and Lezha, which are located in the northern part of Albania, while Kamza is to be considered as a suburb of Tirana and have explored in total 15 spaces and places of interest, including local public institutions such as the cities cultural or cultural centers.
For the Micro Fest in Romania (July 2022) we discussed developing a framework to specify that actions should lead to the activation of a local cultural space, or put in contact cultural actors that do not usually work together. We could involve more than 500 people directly in the preparations and realization of the planned activities of the festival in different locations. More than 20 different formats and activities were introduced and realized. The schedule of the Micro Festival was structured into three main action days, one day in each of the selected villages of Mandra and Sona and at the river banks of the Olt in Fagaras. In the beginning and the end of the festival week we were hosted by the space @Home in Fagaras, where we had our space for planning, reflections and also a collective intervention of space making and improvement of the facility.
>>> check the short report: Micro Fest Romania
Cultural spaces, esp.in the Balkans, belong to local communities, just as local communities belong to cultural spaces. Even though these cultural spaces receive relatively limited attention in everyday life, they are essential for how local communities work, the wellbeing of locals, and the education of future generations. Appropriating cultural spaces through re-thinking their role and function in local communities is essential for communities to own their future and well-being.
We continue to see the tested approaches as appropriate strategies to empower young citizens, where exchange and co-production are fundamental for the creation of free and open societies. Our particular focus from the beginning was on how these mechanisms can enable reconciliation and promote resilience in (post-)conflict and post-socialist transitional societies.
Topics and sub-topics to be covered should be based on our experiences and focus on: skills and resilience of rural activism, exploring more local resources and potentials for social change, intensifying space making and cultural hackathons, interventions through arts and crafts. We will foster the format of participatory prototyping workshops, where peers and community members develop or modify local solutions on site.
H.A.N.A (ALB) https://www.hanacentre.org
Sebastia NGO (ALB) https://www.facebook.com/sebastia.kurbin
Grupi ATA https://grupiata.com
MKBT – Make better (ROM) http://mkbt.ro/en
Mandra Chic http://muzeuldepanzesipovesti.blogspot.com
Sona Noastra (ROM) https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100064776996333
OMA (DEU) www.altenburgammeer.eu
COCONAT (DEU) www.coconat-space.com