The Way We Move - ICAF 7

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‘The Way We MOVE...’

Published by ICAF / Charnwood Arts ISBN: 978-1-903947-37-1 © Copyright 2018 by the individual artists / authors All rights reserved

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Cover Photos: Kev Ryan Front: Rotterdams Wijktheater / Women Connected (The Netherlands) - ‘Silent Heroines Disco’ Back: Colectivo Lisarco (Spain) - ‘Synectikos’

We invite you to wander through these pages and become inspired by its confetti of moments and thoughts that emerged during the 7th edition of the International Community Arts Festival Rotterdam in 2017...

City Arts from Nottingham (UK) take one of their puppets for a walk with festival participants. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching)



Eugène van Erven As I write this it is exactly a year ago that we celebrated our seventh International Community Arts Festival. I use the verb ‘celebrate’ consciously because the event was festive in so many ways. There was a great deal of live music, lots of movement (choreographed or improvised onstage and off), warm conviviality, new encounters, confirmation of older bonds. With professional artists, participants in neighbourhood-based projects, and casual visitors coming from literally all continents on earth and representing every imaginable art discipline, our festival was also so much more than a five-day party. It contained multiple layers of meaning. Some of these were quite explicit, as in the performance lectures by James Thompson, the conversation hosted by Tania Cañas and François Matarasso, or Oscar Ho’s presentation within a photo exhibit about the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. In other activities the meaningfulness was more implicit, entering our systems through the senses or our muscles in all manner of interactive workshops, film screenings or scores of performances inside five different theatres and outside on the streets. Thinking back on those intense five days – or really three weeks if we also count the whirlwind artist-in-residency of Brazil’s Carroça de Mamulengos with migrants from Cape Verde – brings a smile to my face and an overwhelming feeling of what Brazilians call ‘saudade’. It can perhaps best be described as a bittersweet mix of desiring to be back in a situation with people who are no longer physically present but who remain very close to your heart. With the book that lies before you we want to conjure up ‘saudade’ for everyone who attended ICAF-7.

With it we also want to tempt those who did not, to find out more about community arts, to look beyond prejudices they may have, or be surprised by all the different things it can be all over the world. We have created this book in close partnership with Charnwood Arts, one of the oldest community arts organisations in the UK. Its director, photographer Kevin Ryan, has been coming to our festivals since 2008 and agreed to come and document our seventh edition together with his Taiwanese colleague Liao Yun Ching. Their amazing photographs form the heart and soul of this book. They are complemented by seven shorter and three somewhat longer texts that speak to the significance of our festival and community arts at large. A 62-minute video documentary directed and produced by our Northern-Irish partner Chris McAlinden Byrne can be found on our YouTube channel: https://www. Chris was a cast member of the legendary Theatre of Witness/Derry Playhouse performance ‘We Carried Your Secrets’. He subsequently graduated as a film maker and founded Pillarpix Films in Belfast. Fostering collaborations of the kind that this photo book represents is the tangible result of what we regard as the core business of ICAF. Over the years, our triennial event has led to many other international partnerships that we are proud to have helped initiate. We hope this book inspires you to visit us in 2020 for ICAF-8, as an old friend or a new one. 5

INTRODUCTION Jasmina Ibrahimovic

In January 2018 our festival producer Anamaria Cruz and I flew to the UK to work on the selection and layout of this photo book together with Kevin Ryan and his Charnwood Arts colleague and designer Natalie Chabaud. I remember us sitting in Kevin’s attic in his house in Loughborough, staring at the photographs on his computer, discussing about the expressive power of each picture, its possible interpretation and its composition. We agreed that the book should be a ‘confetti of meaningful moments’ that occurred during ICAF: special encounters, new friendships being forged, intense discussions, particles of joy and harmony. Now, half a year later, as I am browsing through the first draft of the book I am proud of our selection. But I am even more proud of Kevin and Natalie for the way they have composed and ordered the pages. They have made these photographs talk to each other, individually and in conjunction. That, I feel, makes this book into an artwork on its own. The individual photographs become stronger because the place they have been given in the whole. On some pages the pictures complement and strengthen each other, like on page 15 or 44-45. Pages 33, 41 or 83 may puzzle you, make you look again, or invite you to think further about their possible relationship. And on other pages the pictures seem to actually clash and may even have an alienating effect, like on page 109, 117 or 119. In that sense the effect and affect of the book 6

is similar to lots of community arts projects. At first sight, they seem harmonious and without conflict. But if you delve deeper into them, you discover multiple layers of meaning beneath the surface. You detect resistance, tension, contradiction: evidence of a unique, aesthetic, discursive space. Our guest curator Tania Cañas writes about this almost controversial feeling of joy on page 18, something I felt myself when I experienced ICAF for the first time in 2011. I remember walking into Zuidplein Theatre (the headquarters of ICAF back then) on the opening night and being welcomed by a colourful Brazilian theatre group from Villa Cruzeiro in Rio: Favela Força. The positive energy they radiated was overwhelming and I instantly felt ridiculously happy. This was something I had never experienced before in the mainstream or experimental art scene that I was so accustomed to as a Theatre Studies student, places where joy has almost become a taboo. Warm conviviality was one of the key ingredients of the community arts movement, I discovered. It creates a safe entrance into the arts for many communities and individuals that are normally excluded from it. Once the space is safe, a discursive space becomes possible: an environment in which we are able to reflect on our life, identity, each other, society. That warm welcome back in March 2011 made me feel at home within this international community, this movement.

Festival opening with Carroรงa de Mamulengos (Brazil) at Zuidplein Theatre. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 7

Festival participants gather at Islemunda before travelling to the day’s workshops. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 8

Islemunda also provided a great place to relax, meet others, eat and drink and participate in workshops and discussions. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 9

Not entirely coincidentally, movement was also the theme of ICAF 2017. In our weekly ICAF working sessions, prior to the festival, Eugene, Anamaria and I would lock ourselves up in our small office at the Islemunda cultural centre and review our explicit but also implicit criteria for programming shows, workshops, seminars and other elements in our festival. We often found ourselves entangled in passionate discussions. What does this community arts movement actually look like, worldwide? How does it move? Where to? Not surprisingly, we were forced to conclude that how something moves and where to, or what one’s position in it is, depends on one’s perspective. Even shapes and forms change if you look at it from different angles. The ‘best’ community arts practices in Northern Europe look and feel different from the ‘best’ practices in Eastern Europe, let alone in African, Latin American or Asian countries. Aesthetics, cultural traditions, social and political contexts, funding options (or lack thereof): they all differ from place to place and this influences the development of an art movement. Types of dialogue with society and the artistic and strategic way a community artist chooses to shape it and thereby create a space for a (new or marginalised) community or narration, is dependent on local context. It is precisely this search for the most powerful, beautiful, meaningful form of dialogue in combination with the inclusion of communities that are often excluded from the arts that all community artists worldwide have in common. 10

We want to explore the complexities of perspectives further in our next festival in 2020. That is why the theme of our next will be ‘2020 vision’. The dream for the future of ICAF is to open ourselves up, even more than we already do, to more diverse ways of looking at community arts and also pay special attention to the visual. In order to challenge our own vision, in 2017 we invited three guest curators (Tania Cañas from Australia, Matt Jennings from Northern-Ireland, and Bonnie Chan from Hong Kong) to work with us. In 2020 we want to expand this approach. But first, we warmly invite you to wander through these pages and allow yourself to become inspired by its confetti of moments, thoughts, reflections and dialogue.

ICAF Producer Anamaria Cruz in conversation with Matt Jennings at Zuidplein Theatre. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 11

Festival opening with Carroรงa de Mamulengos (Brazil), Jasmina Ibrahimovic and Eugene van Erven (ICAF). (Photo: Kev Ryan)


...and so let the journey begin. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching)



“The power of ICAF wasn’t in seeking a singular model or universal answer. Instead it offered something much more: a world in which many worlds can exist.”


Rotterdams Wijktheater / Women Connected (The Netherlands) ‘Silent Heroines Disco’. (Photo: Kev Ryan)

‘Cabo Meets Brazil’ with Carroça de Mamulengos. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 15

A warm welcome from ICAF Artistic Director Eugene van Erven. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 16

ICAF was a site of energy, people and place; a wonderful example of the possibilities that can emerge when the values of communityengaged practice deeply informs the process of creating, as well as holding a festival. I reflect back to ICAF 2017 as a series of invaluable, generous and cherished offerings. We were offered a cherished experience of a community vibe, within a community festival. We were offered a generous site to hold the multiplicity of community arts; as multifaceted, multidisciplinary, multilingual and multimovement. Above all however, ICAF offered an invaluable space to not just share or document community arts, but to live community arts.

Tania Cañas presents during ‘Reasons to be Cheerful 2017: Community Art and Hope’. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 17

Renewed perspective of joy Joy. Happiness. Suspicious words, or so I came to think, especially in community arts practice. Celebratory creative practices and moments were to be mistrusted. This might sound counterintuitive and counterproductive to some practitioners; however, one quickly learns that a big warning sign of unethical processes imposed upon subjugated communities are those that pathologically seek the construction of the ‘happy factor’. This often leads to work that is depoliticised, individualised and consumable. ICAF challenged this and allowed for a renewed perspective of joy. I found myself smiling during the entire performance of “Synectikos”. Colectivo Lisarco held us between pause and play, the delight of surprise and the pleasure of play. I was enchanted by the beauty and spectacle of the everyday seen anew, by “Trash Dance”, a collaboration between Forklift Danceworks and Rotterdam’s local Sanitation workers. There was also joy found in the exquisitely harmonised voices singing of home, history and diaspora; during the closing night performance of “Cabo Meets Brazil”.


ICAF turned out to be an urgent reminder of what I’d forgotten: that joy can be found within politicised moments; a compelling reminder that joy did not have to be at the expense of critical, intellectual and theoretical work. ICAF was a space in which joy was not only relevant, but necessary within practice. Furthermore, there was an unexpected lightness that came from a joy driven by a collective sense of social responsibility and reciprocity. Back home in Australia, I now carry this sentiment throughout my entire practice and existence. I refuse to ever forget again, that there is joy in politicised struggle, that happiness does not deter from the core, and that celebration can be revolutionary.

Reasons to be Cheerful 2017: Community Art and Hope A conversation with Tania Caùas (Australia) | Risham Waseem (Pakistan) | François Matarasso (UK) (Photo: Kev Ryan)


A multitude of communication forms and knowledges - simultaneously ‘Happenings’ of course don’t just occur coincidently, they happen due to the invisible labour by organisers as well as attendees. ICAF offered by far the best example of holding space with conscientious care, dedication and thought. Often, pre-festival work and important curatorial and conceptual decisions are made by gatekeepers behind closed doors, eager to deliver a snazzy looking festival. ICAF in comparison was open, transparent and in constant conversation, understanding that the admin work (visas, support letters, Skype meetings) is an equally integral, and not necessarily dry, part of the work and the festival overall. Sometimes this looked like a smile at the end of an email, an assurance, a supportive comment, a sentiment of belief, a heartfelt ‘how are you?’. When it came to the program directly, sessions were run by community members and not just those with the structural privilege to speak. In so doing, it actively shifted binary modes of thinking, challenged borders and created the conditions by which to pause, critically analyse and communicate - valuing the multitude of ways in which that communication happens. We would often shift between languages, mix them up, mess them up and even communicate in new languages that were an amalgamation of it all. We were moulding to one another rather than to external demands.


ICAF equally valued the body as a form of communication and lived-experience as knowledge, thus truly embracing the phrase, “the body is a way of thinking, and intellectual work can be a creative practice” (G. Gomez-Peña, G. and R. Sifuentes, Exercises for Rebel Artists: Radical Performance Pedagogy. New York and London: Routledge, 2011, p. 3). It was an effective and thrilling example of how the terms ‘artist’, ‘audience’, ‘participant’ and ’researcher’ can become interchangeable.

Moments of in-betweenness Moments of in-betweenness are something you can never really directly curate. What you curate is a space to hold such potentialities. ICAF as a model allowed for moments of inbetweenness (see M. Diversi and C. Moreira, BETWEENER TALK: Decolonizing Knowledge Production, Pedagogy, and Praxis. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press, 2009.) to thrive. Inbetween moments are the unpredictable, beautiful bursts of energy between sessions. The moments not explicitly written into the program but which directly reflect the values and feeling of a gathering. At ICAF these moments were: a shared laugh over breakfast, walking to a venue together and almost getting lost, a bus trip turning into a bus danceparty on the way to one of the sessions, a lovely conversation after bumping into festival goers at the foyer of the hotel. It was the open stage that went from Irish folk music to an infusion of Irish-Africanimprov dance. These in-between moments are what make a difference; they are what create lasting sentiments even as minute details fade with time.

Gathering as an act of solidarity, alliance, and reflexivity How does one bring people and a multitude of communities together without abandoning historical and contextual reference? How do you track oppression or privilege across contexts? How do these shift in the temporary context of a festival? How do you identify and reconfigure the dialectical world within a festival environment? These questions have no immediate answers but ICAF wasn’t afraid to ask them. This experience allowed me to understand that the festival, as a gathering, was itself an exercise of building alliances and self- and practice-orientated reflexivity. This, as with any context, is a challenge and constant work. ICAF was a call to situate the collective-self and practice, within the global context.

Events often seek to strictly curate such moments, as networking over a 15-minute tea-break held in stuffy rooms. Such models are of distrust and control. ICAF, on the other hand, didn’t curate content; instead it curated the conditions for dialogue, values and feeling – the rest subsequently happened. 21

Time to dance at ICAF’s late night stage in Zuidplein Theatre. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 22

Caminamos Preguntando Often community art focuses on a consensus model and ideals of unity and sameness. ICAF was a space to also hold on to difference and disjuncture. This is not only subject to notions of culture and place but of discourse as well. Where previous discourse used terms such as human rights, humanitarianism, development, new discourses were willing to interrogate and problematise these very same notions. I reflected on how ‘movement’, the theme to the festival in 2017, also applied to community arts as a field - to be continuously responding to the changing world. It brought to mind the Zapatista methodology of, “caminamos preguntamos”; we ask questions as we walk. Each step is a dialogical, reflexive practice.


Opening conversations at Islemunda. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 24

Final performance of ‘Cabo Meets Brazil’ at Zuidplein Theatre. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 25

Let the dancing begin... (Photo: Kev Ryan)


...and feel it get infectious. (Photo: Kev Ryan)


A world in which many worlds can exist Attending my first ICAF felt like coming home. I was honoured and humbled to have shared the space and the experience of breathtaking practices and work; with incredible practitioners who live the work rather than merely deliver it. The power of ICAF wasn’t in seeking a singular model or universal answer. Instead it offered something much more: a world in which many worlds can exist. The beauty of that is that once experienced, the abstract becomes tangible and the ideal becomes real.

Tania CaĂąas, Artistic Director, RISE Refugee, Melbourne, Australia


Colectivo Lisarco (Spain) workshop at Islemunda. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 29


“ICAF 2017 was a melting pot of cultures that unravelled in perfect symmetry.”


ICAF 2017 was a melting pot of cultures that unravelled in perfect symmetry. The theme of dance and movement connected the participants in a beautiful manner that brought an understanding that art is unifying. The different workshops showed the potential of community arts to teach, provoke ideas, influence behavior change and policy. The festival also broke lots of inhibitions and lasting friendships were formed. I was able to live in different countries and communities, to feel their pains, understand their cultures through the compelling performances I was privileged to participate in. The reception to my workshops on the use of participatory theatre to drive social change in Kenya was overwhelming. The interest my two presentations piqued made me realize just how much we can learn from each other’s way of practice and how despite the difference in our environments or experiences, art can be a powerful tool to communicate the sameness in human needs.

Rachel Okwar, Amani People’s Theatre, Nairobi, Kenya


Rachel Okwar participates in community dance workshop with Alan Lyddiard and Tamara McLorg. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 32

Community dance workshop with Alan Lyddiard and Tamara McLorg. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 33

Fanfakids performance at the ICAF Community Day. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 34

Fanfakids (Belgium) perform on the ICAF Community Day in nearby shopping centre Keizerswaard. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 35

“In close collaboration with enthusiastic artists who come from the most different horizons, at MET X we manufacture the creative elements in order to form bands, events and educational processes... Moving Music. Music that moves.”

‘About Met-X’,

Fanfakids is a peer-education music project from Met-X Brussels. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 36

Fanfakids. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 37

Dansnest (The Netherlands) performs ‘The Kiss’ at Rotterdam Centraal Station. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 38

‘The Kiss’. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 39

Nilo Berrocal (NL/Peru) co-facilitates a workshop on intercultural identity. (Photo: Kev Ryan)


Above: Rotterdams Wijktheater / Women Connected (The Netherlands) - ‘Silent Heroines Disco’. (Photo: Kev Ryan) Following page: ‘Empty the Space’ - Kuenda Productions (Uganda, Zimbabwe, Germany), dance performance at Islemunda. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 41



Late night stage jam session at Zuidplein Theatre. (Photo: Kev Ryan)


Spontaneous dance during the Marockin’ Brass concert. (Photo: Kev Ryan)




Above: ‘Empty the Space’ - Kuenda Productions (Uganda, Zimbabwe, Germany), dance performance at Islemunda. (Photo: Kev Ryan)


Previous page: Kuenda Productions, dance workshop at Islemunda. (Photo: Kev Ryan)

The Henry Girls lead an after party jam at Zuidplein Theatre. (Photo: Kev Ryan)



“...intense debate, discussion on citizens’ rights issues.”


Above and Following page: Drama Box (Singapore) begin to assemble the GoLi theatre space. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 51



Drama Box (Singapore) - ‘The Lesson’ - Activities in the GoLi. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 54

We were new to the ICAF community when we first visited in 2014. The warmth & camaraderie made us come back. We never imagined that on our second trip we would be able to contribute with a participatory live show called “The Lesson” and bring our inflatable theatre, GoLi, along with us across the oceans to perform in. It was very moving to see everyone swaying to the National Day songs we played at the start of our performance, reminding me of how music brings people together. That was the warm start to a subsequent intense debate, discussion on land and citizens’ rights issues. Two moments that were specially memorable: 1) When being convinced to not place their votes, one of the voters exclaimed “I thought that by not voting I was exercising my right. Then Brexit happened. So I am not going to let that happen again!”, and 2) How those who didn’t want to vote nevertheless ran to protect the migrant workers’ cinema which was voted out, and then got caught up in the “demolition” together! It was humbling to see how what we face as humans is so universal, even though we may come from different cultures: that we are all the same. ‘The Lesson’ - (Photo: Kev Ryan)

Koh Hui Ling, Associate Artistic Director, Drama Box, Singapore


Drama Box (Singapore) ‘The Lesson’ - Activities in the GoLi. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 56

Drama Box (Singapore) ‘The Lesson’ - Activities outside the GoLi. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 57


“It was an absolutely valuable experience for us to stage different real life stories of women in Hong Kong for such diverse audiences.�


What happened in ICAF serves as a nutrient that provides nourishment essential for the maintenance of our (arts) life and growth. It was an honour that my solo “Women In Red� allowed our FM Theatre Power troupe to join ICAF. It was an absolutely valuable experience for us to stage different real life stories of women in Hong Kong for such diverse audiences. In return, many powerful authentic stories from different corners of the world were gathered, heard and discussed by open minds and hearts. For me, standing in front of the international audience was a breakthrough of my own comfort zone.


I always wonder if I could go a bit further Keep telling myself Come on A bit further Just a bit more No matter how small a step it is Just try Even if you might fail Real courage is not about a sure win But you choose to leap even though knowing you might fall Falling or Flying is how you interact with the wind Just open your arms and be present. As your future depends on how you act now.

Mo Lai Yan-chi, Artistic Director, FM Theatre Power, Hong Kong


Above and Left: FM Theatre Power (Hong Kong) ‘Women in Red’ performed by Mo Lai Yan-chi. (Photos: Kev Ryan) 61


“ICAF is overflowing with creative ideas, ideological and cultural contexts that touch your skin during those days.”


ICAF In Four Letters The ICAF festival and its team marked a before and after in my path hand in hand with the community arts. Interaction, with people, with a world that goes much further. ICAF is overflowing with creative ideas, ideological and cultural contexts that touch your skin during those days. Complicity, the encounter with so many others who are different from you and coming from so many different places allows us to understand (with the heart) what we do. It generates a natural complicity with people with whom, sometimes, the meeting is brief but they move you and they become, little by little, our traveling companions. Attention to the intentions, to the look, to the impulses that make us move. ICAF allows us to look, listen and be sensitive to “delicate questions” about our practices in a context of profound respect. Flexibility in front of the concepts, the models, the places from which we approach them. Deconstruction of fixed ideas.

Eva García, Director of ComuArt, Barcelona, Spain.


_ . Workshop on parade making by Ed Carroll & Vita Gelūunieneėė (Lithuania). (Photo: Kev Ryan)


Ed Carroll (Ireland/Lithuania) facilitates parade making workshop. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 65

Workshop on ‘Precarity and Resilience for Freelance Artists’ by Matt Jennings (Northern Ireland). (Photo: Kev Ryan) 66

Every festival morning Dr. Daniel Chen (China) offered a Tai-Chi class. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 67

Workshop of Exodus 2.0 by Catinca Draganescu (Romania). (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 68

As part of the ‘slow start’ Tessa Kloost invited visitors to contribute to an interactive installation. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 69

Interactive improv performance ‘The Roof’ by Moha (Hungary, France). (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 70

‘The Roof’. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 71


“I found myself smiling during the entire performance of ‘Synectikos’. Colectivo Lisarco held us between pause and play...”


‘Synectikos’ by Colectivo Lisarco (Spain). (Photos: Kev Ryan)


Q&A with performers of ‘Synectikos’. (Photo: Kev Ryan)


‘Synectikos’ by Colectivo Lisarco (Spain). (Photo: Kev Ryan) 75

‘Synectikos’ by Colectivo Lisarco (Spain). (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 76

‘Synectikos’ by Colectivo Lisarco (Spain). (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 77

Colectivo Lisarco (Spain) - workshop at Islemunda. (Photo: Kev Ryan)


Colectivo Lisarco (Spain) - workshop at Islemunda. (Photo: Kev Ryan)


‘Synectikos’ by Colectivo Lisarco (Spain). (Photo: Kev Ryan) 80

‘Synectikos’ by Colectivo Lisarco (Spain). (Photo: Kev Ryan) 81

Colectivo Lisarco (Spain) - Workshop at Islemunda. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 82

Colectivo Lisarco (Spain) - Workshop at Islemunda. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 83


“I was profoundly moved to see often ignored cleaning men and women shine...”


Alida Neslo (Suriname) meets her old friend Luc Mishalle (MET X, Belgium). (Photo: Kev Ryan)



Years ago, during my first job in theatre, I worked with the eccentric Flemish director Tone Brulin. At the first rehearsal, he surprised the group with a visit to the municipal rubbish dump. “Look around”, he said, ” ‘cause that’s what you are if

‘Trash Dance’ in Rotterdam. Forklift Danceworks (USA). (Photo: Kev Ryan) 86

you only work for fame, instead of from what’s in your heart. Either people will praise or dump you at their will, or you’ll be inspired from within forever”. We had to pick out a piece of rubbish to remind us constantly of his words…

Shortly before the premiere he asked us to integrate the piece of rubbish into our performance. Looking at our puzzled faces he explained with immortal words: “Even among rubbish you’ll find poetry”.

‘Trash Dance’ in Rotterdam. Forklift Danceworks (USA). (Photo: Kev Ryan) 87

Allison Orr of Forklift shares a laugh with sanitation worker Edwin Turk. (Photo: Kev Ryan)


Krissie Marty of Forklift joins them for more of Edwin’s amusing stories. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 89

I had forgotten about all this while struggling to find the reason why I went back to work in Suriname, my home-country, after 35 years of absence. Trying to bring new inspiration to our neglected youth in prison, our neglected neighbourhoods, our neglected theatre. A country full of gold under layers of rubbish is not easy to work in! Lately, at ICAF 2017 I saw quite a few beautiful people at work, from many different countries. But what struck me most of all was ‘TRASHDANCE’ (Live). I was profoundly moved to see often ignored cleaning men and women shine for once. Literally shine! Shine from inside out, while proudly ’performing’ their skills in front of an audience that finally noticed them in the middle of a big, busy city. Fighting back my tears, I instantly remembered Tone Brulin’s words of long ago. After ICAF I went back to Suriname and its many dumps, with a vivid step, a heart beating with renewed courage and a changed look in my eyes...

Alida Neslo, independent artist, Paramaribo, Suriname


Allison Orr tries driving a Rotterdam garbage truck. (Photo: Kev Ryan)

Moves from daily life inspire Forklift’s choreographies. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 91

Forklift Danceworks workshop. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 92

Q&A during Forklift Danceworks workshop. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 93


“Where to go: West or East? Left or Right? Should I leave or stay?”


“Double Eagle” — the core paradox set in the stone of the Russian coat of arms. Where to go: West or East? Left or Right? Should I leave or stay? Leave the country that I love but can’t agree with, or... Forget my fear and stay, stay and try to shape our future (even if it means that I could lose my future)? Does staying mean that I collaborate with the politicians and make compromises? Does leaving mean that I betray my comrades, friends, and community in the middle of the fight? Who is waiting for me in the Netherlands, where the Russian Tsar left a great mark and a small debt in Zaandam? What is waiting for me here: asylum or suicide? An audience stays silent for a moment and then makes its choice: half goes in the left door, half goes in the right. “You showed me a mirror of our society” — he says. “First I wanted to leave, then I saw many had left already, so who will be left to bring change?” — she asks me. And I keep asking myself.

Ada Mukhina, Vmeste, Saint Petersburg, Russia


Vmeste (Russia) performs ‘Double Eagle’. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 96

Vmeste (Russia) performs ‘Double Eagle’. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 97


“... rebirth of a movement ...”


BIRTH, DEATH AND REBIRTH OF A MOVEMENT In Britain, community art existed for a couple of decades, between the late 1960s and the late 1980s. Of course, it had antecedents stretching back to the early 19th century. It had friends and allies, too, especially in adult education and radical politics. And it has had successors, many of them – indeed, there are now far more people involved in community art than in its heyday, although few of them use that term to describe what they do. But in that 20-year period, a lot of people did call themselves community artists or, sometimes, community art workers. To do so was to separate them, their ideas and their work from the art world, which they saw as bound up with power and uninterested in the lives of most people. Because it set out to challenge the dominant ideologies of art, community art was also a political development. That is to say, it self-consciously set out to change some aspects of social organisation, in this case, art and culture. And so, like other political activists, community artists saw themselves as a movement. They saw themselves as involved in a common project and they identified with colleagues. The Association of Community Artists (ACA) was established in 1973 to provide mutual support and a united voice that could speak to the institutions of power, especially the Arts Council of Great Britain, which was responsible for financing the arts. In the Western, post-Enlightenment tradition artists place a high value on individual freedom: they do not have a strong record of collective action. Even the creation of the ACA demonstrated that community artists saw themselves differently and recognised that their political ideas would not be advanced except through such organisation. However, as is so often the case in radical politics, community artists were as concerned with the integrity of their vision as with its implementation. Their ideas may have been powerful and in tune with wider social change at the time, but trying to influence art world institutions required compromise. The most basic question was whether to accept grants from the Arts Council. Some community artists thought that doing so enabled them to work and affect that institution’s attitudes and behaviour. Others believed it prevented community art from challenging the oppressive social structures they wanted to overthrow.

Following page: François Matarasso (left) at ‘The Lesson’ of Drama Box. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 99


‘Talent on the Run’ by Fada Theatre, Syria/The Netherlands. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 102

‘Talent on the Run’ by Fada Theatre, Syria/The Netherlands. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 103

Above and Right: Moha Project (the Netherlands) - ‘The Roof’. (Photos: Kev Ryan) 104

The internal divisions were often pursued more bitterly than the arguments with power, which encouraged them, as usual, by assimilating the artists it found least threatening while marginalising others. Tensions within the community art movement came to a head at a national conference in 1986, following which the ACA collapsed in acrimony. The idea of community art as a movement was at an end. Some of those involved left the field, while others recast their work as participatory art – less political and collective, but more acceptable to the art world. That response can be criticised from one perspective and celebrated from another. Participatory art has, after all, proved to be something of a Trojan Horse that may yet bring down the art world citadel. However people interpret the shift from community art to participatory art, they tend to see it within the narrow frame of art history. But the end of community art coincided with the triumph of neoliberalism, the ascendancy of rightwing politics and the collapse of communism. Community art, which was politically leftist, was a minor casualty of that struggle compared to nationalised industry, trade unionism, social housing and so much more. Community art ended for complex reasons, but above all because it was on the losing side of a global ideological war. And yet, its ideas and practice – which, as already said, were much more in keeping with the deeper social changes of the later 20th century than those of the art world – have thrived in the subsequent 30 years. 105

Those decades have also revealed neoliberalism’s fault-lines, most dramatically in the financial collapse of 2007-08 and its aftermath. The West has experienced years of economic depression, social upheaval, military insecurity and humanitarian misery. The massive rejection of political elites has produced chaotic administrations and seen the emergence of new movements from Occupy to UKIP and from the Indignados to PEGIDA. These are frightening, anarchic days, as the melt-waters of the Cold War’s dangerous stability remake the landscape. But in these unstable times, I see community artists – whatever they now call themselves – responding with new ideas, ambitious and political, driven once again by questions of social justice, morality and collective action. In Portugal and Spain, Greece and Turkey, in Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, in places across the world of which I know little, community art work is springing up, often without state support or sanction and sometimes consciously challenging the existing order. And in people’s growing awareness of past experience and present practice, in their discourse, exchanges and gatherings I also see the beginnings of something that might be a movement.

Whether it is the Jornadas sobre la Inclusión Social y la Educación en las Artes Escénicas or the Encontro Internacional de Arte e Comunidade in the Iberian peninsula, the Tandem Exchanges in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, or at ICAF, the oldest and largest community art festival in Europe, I seem to be witnessing the emergence of a community arts movement for our times. It is much larger and more diverse than its British predecessor, while its global reach and local roots make it both stronger and harder to understand. It needs the space created by ICAF and its peers, not just to learn, grow and share practice but also to become conscious of itself and its potential. We are living in troubled times and art is not a solution. But community art, of the kind showcased, celebrated and questioned at ICAF, allows people to work together and find their own solutions. And with its roots in human rights, democracy and social justice, community art offers those with the fewest material resources a powerful method for using their human resources, individually and collectively. I hope for a new community art movement capable of empowering the powerless and look to ICAF and others to support its development. It is important now, and it is needed.

François Matarasso 106

Drama Box (Singapore) ‘The Lesson’ - Going Live in the GoLi - a community occupies and protests to save its cinema! (Photo: Kev Ryan) 107


Above: Lleca Teatro (Nicaragua) perform ‘Cain and the Dogs’. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) Left: Lleca Teatro (Nicaragua) workshop leaders and participants. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 109

Prelude with food to ‘Cabo meets Brazil’. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 110

Kuenda Productions (Uganda, Zimbabwe, Germany) - Dance workshop at Islemunda. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 111


“When artists take risks with their art form there is a real opportunity. But when they do that with a certain naivety around their behaviour and their understanding of power, then that is less acceptable.�



Above: Lleca Teatro (Nicaragua) perform ‘Cain and the Dogs’. (Photo: Kev Ryan)


Previous page: James Thompson, conversations at Islemunda (Photo: Kev Ryan)

LOCATING RISK IN THE RIGHT PLACE A Conversation with James Thompson, 13 March 2018 Our scholar-in-residence for ICAF 2017 was Professor James Thompson1 (University of Manchester). On Friday March 31 and Saturday April 1, 2017 James held two different but inter-related lectures. The first one dealt with art in conflict zones and the second had art and care as its primary subject 2. In both presentations, James challenged assumptions about whether art is at all possible under these circumstances, what it can achieve, what shape, form, spirit or style it can assume. He complicated notions about reconciliation and justice, about memory and forgetting, about storytelling and trauma, and the basic human need for beauty and playful creation under the most devastating conditions. He also criticised funding agents for their flawed assumptions and insistence on measurable outcomes of art projects with vulnerable people. He expressed his own misgivings about rules, regulations, bureaucracy, and professionalisation in applied arts, which, he fears, have gone on at the expense of the passion and vocation with which he entered the field many years ago. Still reeling from the #MeToo and the Oxfam-Haiti scandal that is also confusing and affecting the community arts world, James Thompson (JT) and Eugene van Erven (EE) reopened the conversation...


Thompson is Professor of Applied and Social Theatre and vice-President for Social Responsibility at the University of Manchester. He is also founder and co-director of In Place of War project, which researches and supports art programmes in war and disaster zones: James is the author of several books that have become standard texts in the field of applied art. They include Performance Affects: Applied Theatre and the End of Effect (Palgrave MacMillan 2009) and his most recent work, Humanitarian Performance: From Disaster Tragedies to Spectacles of War (University Of Chicago Press, 2014). 2

For those of you who want to read more on this latter topic we recommend his article entitled ‘Towards an Aesthetics of Care”, which was published in Research in Drama Education 20, 4 (2015), pp. 430-441. Another version of James’ performance lecture on art in place of war can be viewed on youtube: 115

Lleca Teatro (Nicaragua) workshop. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 116

Lleca Teatro (Nicaragua) perform ‘Cain and the Dogs’. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 117

JT: In the aesthetics of care presentation I was referring to an anxiety about how far we have come from that starting point of us being a bunch of mad young artists who just wanted to go out and do stuff. In all areas of social engagement over the many decades that people have been doing this work there has been a process of professionalisation. This was necessary, for good reasons of ethics, safety, wellbeing of the people we were working with. From that process of professionalisation Masters courses were created, undergraduate courses. What I was saying in Rotterdam last March was that as a consequence of this professionalisation some of that early spirit of rebellion, spirit of rule breaking and boundary stretching may have been lost. And this has damaged both some of the art and some of the relationships that are made through the art. I was suggesting that at the peak of this professionalism – ‘you must behave like this’, ‘these are the rules’ and ‘this is the ethics form that you have to fill in’ – I was getting to the point of saying ‘can we not break some rules again?’ I was saying that at ICAF, but we have all seen the Haiti/Oxfam scandal and the dreadful things that have come out more recently. So I immediately now want to backtrack and say: ‘stop! no! we actually do need professional, ethical, respectful practice’. I still believe in the spirit of open radical rule-breaking engagement, but I am in this dilemma now that I don’t want to not take the terrible behavior of those Oxfam people in Haiti seriously.


EE: That risk is also present in the kind of work that community artists are involved in, or professionals in the applied arts, in community or other settings with vulnerable people… JT: Absolutely. We have had these terrible cases in the ‘70s and ‘80s of professionals abusing the trust of children and massive professionalisation and stricter guidelines were the result of that. Now, if you work with children you can’t touch them, can’t hold their hands, and there are lots of limitations on the way you engage with them. There are very good reasons for this. But artists’ work is quite physical. It involves touch and emotionally sensory things so it also feels that these restrictions have led to the loss of this sensory play in the art work. I am very worried about saying that, because I don’t think that these professional guidelines should be thrown out of the window. Yet something within me tells me that we should maintain the spirit of play, adventure.

EE: I understand what you’re saying about breaking rules and playfulness, spontaneity, improvising with the circumstances and the people you encounter, but at the same time you cannot afford to be naive. You have to play a double game: being professional, being prepared properly before you enter a situation with vulnerable people or a volatile context and then to find the freedom within those rules and regulations to play...

Workshop call at Islemunda. (Photos: Kev Ryan)

Lleca Teatro (Nicaragua) perform ‘Cain and the Dogs’. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 119

‘TimeSlips’ - Kees Deenik (The Netherlands) talks about his health and well-being related projects at Islemunda. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 120

JT: Naive is a great word for this. I remember when I first took students into prisons I didn’t know much about it either. You went in naively and it was probably a cross between electrifyingly exciting and somewhat unsafe. However, many years later I found myself supervising students again and me saying: ‘no, I wouldn’t do that’. I remember one group of students saying: “we are going to try anyway.’ And of course they did something that was extraordinary. So there is some creative potential in that naivety. Naivety may not be the right word, come to think of it. Some of our undergraduate, younger students do really brave work. The disenchantment that you mentioned means in my case that I am no longer creatively brave in the work, because I am so worried about what might happen.

EE: That worry has only increased, I suppose, in recent months. In addition to all these #metoo scandals in showbiz, in the Netherlands drama schools have been affected by this in particular: teachers having sexual affairs with students, abusing their power as a result, possibly, of this creative playfulness in the classroom and studio. A lot of the work in performing arts in relation to applied contexts is, after all, about touch, about movement, bodily/physical work. And I also think not enough attention is paid in art schools to the ethical risks involved in this work. JT: We have had similar issues in the UK between music teachers and their pupils. There is a relationship of power when it is about virtuosity and the great master showing the pupil how to do things. That relationship

is ridden with power and opportunities for abuse. With regard to the point you are making about applied or community-based settings, I look back to places and projects students were involved in twenty years ago and think, ‘wow, things could have gone so wrong then’. Not necessarily because of our power, but maybe our lack of caring in some ways. The spirit of breaking down boundaries and taking risks, all these things that come with the drama mentality, didn’t come with the concern to look after everybody.

EE: Isn’t that power dynamic even more enhanced when Western so-called experts go to non-Western contexts? JT: It is massively amplified, because all the assumptions about where expertise and authority lies become imbued with being male, white, and international. Also the ability to say ‘no’ is marginalised as well. To question authority there is much harder. So, between a Western student and a Western lecturer in a university in Manchester, that is still a relationship of power, but that gets amplified massively in international settings.

EE: And then there is also the risk of misreading cultural specifics. In your presentation you gave some striking examples of that with regard to the time/space grid, like the way some African people look at the past as if it is something they can actually see right in front of them because they know they have lived it, whereas Westerners tend to look behind them and look for the future in front of them. When we enter other cultural domains we all have blind spots. 121

JT: War zones are very strong example of this. In Sri Lanka, there is an assumption in the Sinhala community sense of their history that the British colonials divided and ruled the country through preferential treatment of the Tamil minority. So when I traveled to the North to naively do these workshops, some people were going: “once again the British are supporting the Tamil terrorists.” Also on a more intimate level, there are different issues of how you are in a room with people or you give a simple instruction like holding hands. Me holding someone’s hands might be read very differently in different places and circumstances. Back to Sri Lanka: there, men hold hands with each other walking down the street and men and women do not. That starts a whole different set of readings what you can and cannot do in your workshop.

EE: So now almost a year after ICAF 2017 you find yourself confronted with this new dilemma. Perhaps today you wouldn’t say so confidently anymore: “I want to stop being critical, I want to stop being professional, and I want to stop being effective”. Any idea how you might disentangle yourself from this knot? Because I am sure this ethical-playful dilemma is something that many of our colleagues in the community arts field are also faced with...


JT: When I was at ICAF I was at the point of saying: “don’t be so debilitated by your concerns for the right thing to do. Take a few risks and go and do them!” And I still feel that some of the best artists are taking risks. When they do that with their art form there is a real opportunity. But when they do that with a certain naivety around their behaviour and their understanding of power, then that is probably less acceptable. At ICAF, I was really impressed with how the people from Forklift Dance Works from Austin, Texas worked with the sanitation department. When you saw the way the director built relationships in the film – I don’t know much how they managed to create this rapport with the people in Rotterdam – I thought she was doing two things. She was really focused on herself as a choreographer and she was noticing choreography around her and she was noticing that she wasn’t any good at sanitary work. She wasn’t an expert in what they were expert at. So she was risk-taking in her art form, but she was really disciplined in that she had to be respectful, careful in terms of her behaviour, in terms of the way she worked with the people there, the way she worked as a woman in what in some sense was a very male environment, and as a white woman in a situation where there were many people of colour. She was locating the risk in the right place.

Lleca Teatro (Nicaragua) workshop. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 123

A pre-show audience participation workshop with Maria Gomide. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 124

EE: Could you explain how that aspect of locating risk in the right place relates to big hART’s notion of virtuoso process? JT: I think that the Australian group big hART are virtuosic in their processes as well. Their processes are carefully, methodically planned. I thought their documentary, in combination with the presentation that Scott gave, was another highlight of my time in Rotterdam. There is an art form in the process in the work of the best artists in our field.

EE: So, couldn’t this awareness that there is virtuosity in excellent participatory art processes be a way out of this dilemma? JT: Some people who judge artists locate virtuosity only in the final product. Perhaps what the community arts world offers the arts world is to try and account for the virtuosity in the process. And that is an amazing thing to offer. But to suggest that this is virtuosic (or can be) is a real challenge, a real provocation.

JT: François Matarasso is someone who more recently has been trying to work out what the virtuosity of relationships and processes in the arts is. And you are right: the push towards these object- or productorientated processes is absolutely about the idea that we need an outcome we can show off to prove that we have achieved these particular objectives. Going back to the Oxfam thing, there is a real pressure on those organisations to manage their images to such a degree that it has become the reason for getting into trouble. They’ve needed artists to help their reputations, because they need the glitz and the glamour, dancing children in front of new housing developments. The field of NGO management is so competitive and their image, their brand, is so highly prized that they therefore have to hide their dirty linen. They can no longer be honest. In a sense it is about the performance of Oxfam and keeping the brand shiny and beautiful and that has meant that their processes are about covering up the dangers and the problems with that. We can be critical of them, but the system has created this demand that they are the pure saviours of the poor.

EE: Not only that. It is also a challenge to scholars in our field who thus far have not sufficiently succeeded in communicating this uniquely valuable aspect of the work to those donors who impose all kinds of demands, deliverables, quantifiable social results, offering hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce Romeo and Juliette in Gaza and wanting us to measure effects.


Guy Le Jeune participates in ‘Building Dreams’ with Urban Gorillas (The Netherlands). (Photo: Kev Ryan) 126

Workshop at Islemunda with Tania CaĂąas. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 127

Time to gather for more workshops! (Photo: Kev Ryan) 128

Bicycle cinema from Hull with Philip Parr (UK). (Photo: Kev Ryan) 129


“ICAF enabled me to move beyond the barrier of rationality....”


Art is a universal language. It permits meetings, unites similarities, and maintains the desire that one day beauty will be present in the life of every being. I belong to a Brazilian arts company called Carroça de Mamulengos. We are a family of street performers that has been traveling for 40 years through Brazil, generating culture in communities and facilitating the encounter of humans. When I first heard of ICAF, I was enchanted by the notion that a festival exists which brings together people who believe in art as a way of involving people and transforming communities. I immediately related to it, because it is what I myself have been doing, literally since I was born in the Carroça de Mamulengos family. In 2016 I participated in the ICAF Summer School and in 2017 in the ICAF festival, accompanied by my mother Schirley, my sister Isabel and my brother Francisco. We had been invited to work with the Capeverdian community in Rotterdam. During ten days we lived with these Capeverdian immigrants, meeting people and hearing stories. Together with them we constructed a show in which became involved a father, a pastor, a shaman, a rastafari, musicians, singers, adults, children, puppets, professional artists and persons who had never before performed on a stage. Also representing the Capeverdian community, in the auditorium many people were seated who had never been in a theatre building before in their lives and all together we lived a unique and unforgettable moment.

The deep interior of northeastern Brazil is called the Sertão. It is a region rich with ancestral symbols. For that reason, the Brazilian writer Guimarães Rosa said: “The Sertão is the entire world”. ICAF signified the first opportunity I had in my life to present the work of my family outside my country and in a community context. This experienced has left an indelible mark on my life. The challenge of meeting people from such different worlds and experiencing other means of communication beyond language have transformed me completely. It enabled me to move beyond the barrier of rationality and generate sensorial contacts that were pure emotion. I discovered new abilities and other ways of perceiving for my country and for my people, because I met so many species of people who believe in song, dance, poetry and in the capacity of humans to dream of transformation within their midst. All this has strengthened me as a woman, mother, and artist. Thus, I continue to believe in art beyond the stage, in poetry that emerges from human encounters, in the value of cultivating beauty in this world and in the amplified awareness that I am not alone.

Maria Gomide, artistic director, Carroça de Mamulengos, Juazeiro do Norte, Brazil 131


Above: ‘Cabo Meets Brazil’ Left: Maria Gomide. (Photos: Kev Ryan) 133

‘Cabo Meets Brazil’ with Carroça de Mamulengos. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 134

‘Cabo Meets Brazil’ with Carroça de Mamulengos. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 135

‘Cabo Meets Brazil’. (Photo: Kev Ryan) 136

Above and Following page: ‘Cabo Meets Brazil’ with Carroça de Mamulengos. (Photos: Kev Ryan) 137



Above: ‘Cabo Meets Brazil’ with Carroça de Mamulengos. (Photo: Liao Yun Ching) 140

Right: Maria Gomide. (Photo: Kev Ryan)






Yun Ching completed a Master of Arts in Visual Arts Management at Yuan-Ze University before working at the Taipei National University of the Arts hosting their Master lecture series, forums, seminars, art competitions and international workshops.

Kev has been involved with community arts since first encountering the movement in the UK in 1976. He has worked in industry as a production printer. As a hospital worker. As a multi-artsform worker supporting people with physical disabilities and people recovering from mental ill health. He has worked with young people at risk and as a peripatetic arts worker with a wide range of groups.

She has also worked at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Taipei as an education and communications specialist and as Deputy Manager of the Research and Planning Division of Quanta Culture and Education Foundation. She currently works for the organisation Joyful Living in Taipei. Yun Ching has worked on five community arts and publication projects with Charnwood Arts since 2012 in the UK, China and Taiwan. ICAF Rotterdam 2017 was the sixth time she has worked with the organisation.

142 (Photo: Kev Ryan)

Kev was a founder member of Rosebery Community Arts and a co-founder and director of Mailout Magazine, the UK’s participatory arts sector‘s main regular publication. He has worked with Charnwood Arts since 1980 and directed it since 1991. Kev has worked with photography in community projects since the mid1980s as well as being commissioned and exhibiting internationally in his own right.

This book was created collectively by the following people: Editing: Jasmina Ibrahimovic, Anamaria Cruz, Eugène Van Erven, Liao Yun Ching, Kev Ryan Writing: Maria Gomide, Eugène van Erven, Jasmina Ibrahimovic, François Matarasso, Tania Cañas, Rachel Okwar, Koh Hui Ling, Mo Lai Yan-chi, Eva García, Alida Neslo, Ada Mukhina, James Thompson Layout and Design: Natalie Chabaud, Jasmina Ibrahimovic, Anamaria Cruz, Kev Ryan Video Production: Chris McAlinden Byrne (Pillarpix)

International Community Arts Festival ICAF team Eugène van Erven, festival director Jasmina Ibrahimovic, assistant programmer Anamaria Cruz, production manager ICAF is a production of Rotterdams Wijktheater.

Stichting Rotterdams Wijktheater Charnwood Arts +44 (0)1509 822558

Charnwood Arts Project Team Kev Ryan, chief executive officer Liao Yun Ching, associate artist Natalie Chabaud, design co-ordinator

143 (Photo: Kev Ryan)

About ICAF


The International Community Arts Festival (ICAF) is the largest and most internationally engaged event of its kind in the world. ICAF is also a network organisation that connects, informs and inspires community artists worldwide by means of newsletters and an interactive website that contains publications and films. ICAF also offers in-depth training in the form of summer schools and extended residency programmes. In all these ways, ICAF creates international encounters and exchange between community arts professionals and encourages critical discussion.

Charnwood Arts was formed in the 1970s and has transformed itself a number of times along the way. Our approach is based on dialogue and forming and building sustained relationships for the creative benefit of everyone involved. We bring to each project or initiative a rich blend of creative activities and the potentials for wider social as well as personal outcomes.

Our big festival happens every three years. During five days we produce a temporary, creative, warm and welcoming environment in many different locations around Rotterdam. During this event, visitors can discover unique community-based art projects and meet engaged artists who make it their daily job to bridge the distance between different social and cultural contexts and people from all walks of life. Theatre, dance, music, film and visual arts projects, from literally every continent on earth, can be viewed or actively engaged with.


Our current priorities are working with children and young people, cross cultural and international work, health related groupwork and a long term arts and cultural project called ‘People Making Places’. Core funding that enables these aspects of our work comes from Arts Council England and our local authority, Charnwood Borough Council. Charnwood Arts is not tied to any particular art form or approach but we do work predominantly within a particular geographical area in a mixed rural/urban environment at the heart of three UK, East Midlands cities. We also have both long term and intermittent working relationships with organisations in Armenia, China, India, Palestine and Taiwan.

The 2017 ICAF festival finishes by pouring out into the street in style. (Photo: Kev Ryan)


PARTICIPATING GROUPS A’Pele Alida Neslo & Nilo Berrocal / Amani People’s Theatre Antonio Bukhar & Faizal Ddamba Big hART Blue Wolf Dancers Carroça de Mamulengos Cornerstone Daniel Shen Dansnest Drama Box Ed Carroll & Vita Gelūnienė Fada Theater FM Theater Power Forklift Danceworks Guy Le Jeune Henry Girls


PARTICIPATING GROUPS Lieux Fictifs Lisarco Lleca Teatro Maati tv Met-X Marrocin’ Brass Moha Non-Existent Centre Oscar Ho Peter van Beek – Hollandse Wijzen Rotterdams Wijktheater Tania Cañas The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show The Performance Ensemble (Alan Lyddiard) Time Slips Kees Deenik Toon Maas Urban Gorillas Vmeste

We invite you to enjoy a 62-minute beautiful video documentary of ICAF 2017, directed and produced by our Northern-Irish partner Chris McAlinden Byrne (Pillarpix Media): 147

ISBN: 978-1-903947-37-1