BELGIUM ARTISTS IMPROVING CHILDREN’S LIVES WIN €1,000 EUROPEAN ARTS PRIZE
Belgium arts group Moving Ground has been awarded the 2019 Amateo Award at a ceremony in Novi Sad, Serbia.
Jurors for the EU-backed arts prize said it was a project “from the heart to the heart” which had a huge impact on the youngsters involved in an area struggling with poverty and cultural division.
Dancers Evelyne Van Hecke and Roxette Chikua run Club MG which last summer set-up in a square in Terloplein in Borgerhout. They worked with local children to create a show for them to perform to their neighbours in this ethnically-diverse part of Antwerp.
Focusing on the theme “Kattenkwaad” meaning mischief, artists worked with the children exploring what made them want to behave badly sometimes, how they felt unsafe when on the receiving end of bad behaviour and what they wanted to do.
“They heard about each other’s feelings and the ‘us and them’ thinking got broken a bit, that made them feel safer in the square when we were gone,” said Evelyne Van Hecke. “One of the girls said months later ‘the boys are still nicer to us! And one of the boys said the biggest thing he’d learnt was to talk about his problems instead of trying to solve them with violence.”
“It’s quite an honour for us for Amateo to recognise this project and gives us more strength to continue our work.”
Jurors said it was clear how a small project focused on one area could have a significant impact. All the children have gone on to be involved in other art groups.
Ingrid Doctor, winner 2018 and member of the jury, said: “The jury was really touched by the bottom-up approach of this project. By helping the young people connect it had a big impact on them and the community. If there were more projects like this, the world would be a better place.”
Some 65 projects from across Europe competed for the €1,000 prize which celebrates exceptional amateur arts projects.
“Our five finalists have all done amazing things, “ said Susan Fazakerley, President of Amateo. “Choosing a winner was difficult, every project has in its own way made a hugely positive contribution to its participants and their communities.”
The finalists from Serbia, Northern Ireland, Austria, Belgium and The Netherlands were all represented at the announcement of the winner in Novi Sad as part of the Bridges of Creativity conference hosted by Amateo member the Amateur Art Association of Vojvodina.
The Amateo Award is in its second year now and was launched by Amateo, the European Network for Active Participation in Cultural Activities in Europe.
It was won by OpRoet in 2018, an amazing collective from The Netherlands who brought together refugees with over 40 local actors and musicians to create the show ‘Ed van Hoorn, Fuck the System’ about a local activist credited with building refugee camps.
Notes for Editors
Our 2019 Finalists
Theater na de Dam, The Netherlands
For a special act of remembrance for the war dead of the Netherlands, this project brought young people together with older citizens to hear their stories of WW2. Those exchanges were used to inspire theatre performances which on May 4th (Dutch Remembrance Day), were performed simultaneously after the traditional two-minute’s silence. More than 40 venues took part.
The Amateo jury said this was a profound way to connect a new generation with the impact of war and give the act of Remembrance renewed significance. Its resonance & sustainability is also demonstrated by the fact it’s inspired similar projects in eight European cities for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
RedSapata Tanzfabrik: 10+10 Bridges, Austria
This Austrian project aims to bridge the gap between the local community and migrants with a refugee background in a very special way. It was initiated and supported by a human rights organization and a contemporary dance platform (RedSapata Tanzfabrik). Artistic goals and the aim of integrating and connecting people are combined. The jury was impressed by the creative way the work was made involving a collaboration in which all members (non-professional artists) were invited to share their individual stories and ideas. This resulted in strong networks that are highly valuable for the people involved and also for the audience. The video shows also the artistic impact of the performance. At the moment the 3rd edition has been started with “10+10 Brücken #3”.
Art Kvart – Start!, Serbia
“Art Kvart-Start!” (Start Art in your Quarter) is an annual art project by NGO Novo kulturno naselje, held in Novi Sad, Serbia. It aims to decentralize culture and art-making by encouraging unemployed emerging/professional artists to get involved in working with youngsters. The jury was impressed by the project’s big impact in the city with more than 100 events and workshops held attracting an audience of 14,000 people. Especially valuable for the jury is the goal of giving people ‘a better place to live in’. The website shows on its front page the diversity and the creativity at work. The concept can also be used by other organizations and in other countries.
The Irish Video Game Orchestra, Northern Ireland
The Irish Video Game Orchestra has wowed audiences throughout Ireland and the UK by bringing the music of video games to life with a live orchestra. It began in 2015 and has evolved into a group of over 40 young musicians playing the scores of classic games like Mario and Zelda accompanied by video and a light show. The group is based in Belfast in Northern Ireland and aims to bridge community divides by encouraging cross-community membership.
The jury loved the way this project combined orchestral performance and games culture in an innovative way, engaging young people. The work bridging communities in Belfast, a city divided by sectarian violence in the past, was also felt to be very valuable – especially with Brexit looming.
Moving Ground, ClubMG, Belgium
The dance group Moving Ground spent a summer with children in Terloplein in Borgerhout creating a show for them to perform to their community in this ethnically-diverse neighbourhood in Antwerp. Working on the theme “Kattenkwaad” meaning mischief, artists worked with the children exploring what made them want to behave badly sometimes, how they felt unsafe when on the receiving end of bad behavior and what they wanted to do. It brought the children closer together and afterwards they said they felt safer playing outside.
Jurors were impressed at how this project gave children from different backgrounds the chance to connect and express themselves. It was also clear how a small project focused on one area can have a big impact. All the children have gone on to be involved in other art groups.
The Amateo Network was founded in 2008 as the multi-disciplinary European organisation within the field of participatory arts and cultural activities. There are 32 national and regional umbrella groups and associations from 14 EU member states and 2 programme countries, with contacts to a huge network of regional and local associations within the European field of amateur arts.
Amateo’s 4-year programme Arts Take Part is supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union and aims to grow and strengthen the network over the next four years.