The Grodzki Theatre Association has created a website where artists and educators can place films, images and texts of their work with disadvantaged groups. Agnieszka Ginko-Humphries describes how it has evolved.
The belief that arts and creativity can help to break down barriers and motivate people to change their lives led to the foundation of Grodzki Theatre Association in Poland in 1999. Since then we have been involved in many national and international arts projects supporting underprivileged children and young people and those with physical, mental and learning disabilities. One such project was the Artery project, which ran from 2010 to 2012, funded by the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme, and involved organisations from Poland, Finland, Italy, Slovakia and Spain.
Artists and trainers who deal with art, education or therapy every day know how important it is to get new, fresh inspiration. This is why we decided to create the Artery platform and fill it with materials from the international partnership. The materials are organised under a number of learning paths (theatre, visual art, music and communication skills) and show the whole process of working on a given task. For example, ‘Masks’ consists of different stages, each filmed and described individually: making a theatre mask, decorating it, playing in and with the mask, and then the final performance. Some written guidance accompanies every piece of material on how to use particular methods, as well as the challenges and problems trainers might face. Another example under ‘Music’ is ‘The meaning of music’ by the Spanish Intras Foundation and shows how you can use music and dance to support people with mental health problems.
Artists and trainers ... know how important it is to get new, fresh inspiration
The contributors have chosen their own ways of presenting ideas and sometimes a photo story is judged more effective than film. For example, ‘Me and materials from nature’ (under Visual art) by Agricola from Finland suggests a self-presentation project by making pictures using materials found in nature (berries and other forest surprises).
Encouraging arts educators outside the partnership to use the site for inspiration has been easier than persuading them to place their materials on there and describe their methods of work. However, through a series of workshops in different countries, plus gentle talks with friends across Europe, we have gained new contributors, mostly from non-mainstream settings. We will be maintaining and developing the platform (a new project proposal has just been submitted to the European Commission), so we will be looking for more contributions. The platform is free and open to anyone; for those who just want to watch or read the materials, there is no need to register. Only users who would like to place comments or their own materials are asked to register for safety reasons.
Creating this platform and experiencing the artistic work of others has been like walking in ‘Magic Shoes’ (which you can see in the ‘Actor's craft’ category by Divadlo bez Domova from Slovakia).