How art can be a mean for social inclusion?
The Association for Developing Voluntary Work Novo Mesto worked on the implementation of the project IMPACT – Inclusion matters! and its activities, including the involvement of local artists and migrants living in a local community. Moreover, the Association studied the major impact it had on them.
Art breaks down the barriers to integration by encouraging individuals to recognize themselves as the main actors in the integration process – do not wait for others to change or influence your future. Rather start at your own, unleash your own abilities and use your gifts.
Art breaks down the barriers to integration by encouraging individuals to recognize themselves as the main actors in the integration process
On the one hand, the expression of art provided a creative space for children from a migrant background to explore and express identities, to deal with discrimination and social exclusion and to promote intercultural dialogue. These components play an important role for the local community in daily life.
On the other hand, art is an excellent tool for identifying migrants’ in the destination country. Art not only helps them to express themselves but opens for them the possibilities to make their voice heard and to reach equality with the community. It, therefore, has a transformative role, by contributing to community cohesion, structural integration, and social change.
By conducting the workshops, the local artist involved in this project observed another impact, namely that the importance of the artistic expression is a fundamental tool for promoting self-esteem, that it facilitates the expression of emotions as well as the processing of traumatic experiences, opens up the possibilities for reconstruction of their emotions and has an encouraging effect on living life from the start.
In this way, art breaks down the barriers to integration by encouraging individuals to recognize themselves as the main actors in the integration process – do not wait for others to change or influence your future. Rather start at your own, unleash your own abilities and use your gifts.
Through the structured workshops, in which migrant children as well as native children participated, was developed a strong relationship between the two groups. It is often difficult to convince children at school to include migrant peers in their team or group outside school or during school breaks, but art really does play an important role in this sense. It helps creating a link between them. It creates a lot of space to step into feet of other children and feel their emotions, which are often difficult to understand.
This project not only had an impact on the migrants and artists who participated in the workshops, but also encouraged youth workers, social workers working at DRPDNM (Association for Developing Voluntary Work Novo Mesto) day care center to include more art and to promote the creativity of migrants in their integration curriculum. The inclusion of the arts in the integration process benefits everyone: workers, artists, migrant children, their parents and the local community as a whole.
It is often difficult for children to transfer what they learned at the day care center to their home and community. So far, it has been successful to integrate their creativity into this process. The impact here goes beyond the mare inclusion of art and the integration of an individual migrant and it also has implications for the whole community.
Project Coordinator (Erasmus+), Association for Developing Voluntary Work Novo Mesto
This blog is part of the IMPACT project – Inclusion Matters! using Performing Arts towards Cohesion and Tolerance, co-funded by the European Union under the Erasmus+ Key Action 2 Programme.