Towards Shared Futures. A participatory conference

Towards Shared Futures. A participatory conference

In the framework of the project ‘From Complicated Past Towards Shared Futures’, the Hungarian partner, OFF-Biennale Budapest, realized a practice-based meeting among professionals to meet, speak and think together on the topics raised by the project and to learn with and from each other.The participatory conference Towards Shared Futures aimed to create a meeting space, a platform for art mediators, curators, artists, educators and youth workers aiming to reach and work with vulnerable communities (due to the Hungarian context, with a special focus to minorities) using various tools that contemporary art projects offer. Our goal was to create a better understanding of challenges, goals and errors and to work towards more open and inclusive art mediation and museum practices.The event consisted of four panels and some intermediate programmes, inviting practitioners working with and for underprivileged communities in different ways, most of them including the tool of art mediation.

Welcome | Introduction and welcome speeches by Elza Medne (project coordinator, From Complicated Pasts Towards Shared Futures), Nikolett Erőss (curator, OFF-Biennale Budapest) and Fanny Hajdú (art mediator, OFF-Biennale Budapest), keynote speech about the local situation by Melinda Ferkovicsné Vajda (educational expert, PHD, Roma Education Fund)

Play and talk | In the first section of the conference, our speaker-facilitators presented five different lectures and participation-based workshops including a short presentation on the context they were created for. This part invited artists and practitioners who created art mediation sessions for specific exhibitions or art works using out-of-the-box tools and methodologies aiming to address vulnerable communities and people outside of the general audiences of the arts. For this panel several art mediation sessions of the former OFF-Biennále was introduced as well as other museum-related practices from Hungary and the project’s partner countries.

The focus of the session was on the used methodologies, how successful the outreach of facilitators was, what challenges and errors they encountered and what are their questions, doubts or ideas to overcome those.

Eglė Mikalajūnė in her lecture "A Colleague from another Tribe. Artist Meets Entrepreneur" spoke about the initiative of the Lithuanian National Gallery of Art to create links between the artistic and business sector.

Csilla File & András Cseh spoke about their art mediation session for the project Together with Bees of last year’s OFF-Biennále, resulting in their initiative to raise awareness on the importance of mindful and slow practices, embodied in the Offline Reserve.

Virág Lődi introduced the process and art mediation events organized around the RomaMoMa project aiming to create a pseudo-museum for Roma artists’ representation.

Māra Žeikare in her presentation called Challenges and benefits developing inclusive art mediation programmes spoke about the project "Agents of Change: Mediating Minorities" and exhibition "Dairy Diaries" about dementia realized in the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art.

Árpád Bayer in his workshop Open History - Drama and role-play in the museum invited us to travel back in time to 1956 and become part of a union, the members of which are about to decide whether or not to join the exploding revolution.

Breaking the wall | In the second section of the day, four talks and workshops were held by our guests working with the targeted communities as social and youth workers or educators. The aim of this session was to get to know the perspective of those working with specific vulnerable communities on a longer term, not necessarily with artistic tools. Our guests spoke about their experience on how they work together with underprivileged and/or segregated communities and what is their approach on whether and how arts and external mediators could be introduced into these contexts. Our goal was to create a conversation between field workers, curators and art mediators and discuss goals, mistakes and possible solutions together.

Máté Lencse introduced the take of Toldi Tanoda on Learning in Community using board game pedagogy. He invited the participants to try out different games they use in an afterschool programme with underprivileged children in rural Hungary.

Panni Végh, Olga Irimiás and Péter Klausz spoke about the work of Artemisszió and Mira. They introduced intercultural and artistic practices as tools of social integration and gave us a taste of the methodology of Forum Theatre.

Éva Preszl, founder of Életrevaló Egyesület spoke about the mission, successes and challenges of the Self-Knowledge Filmmaking Workshop where they invite filmmakers, drama in education experts and other artists to work with children living in the temporary housing or child care system.

Zita Csőke from our venue, the Kesztyűgyár Community House, introduced the pilot project that made it possible to create a diverse cultural centre in the heart of the controversial 8th district of Budapest.

UCCU - Walk the living history
| After the first day of the participatory conference, we joined an urban city walk organized by UCCU Roma Informal Foundation in Budapest’s most colourful and controversial district, also giving home to our conference. UCCU is an informal educational association providing a platform for dialogue between Roma and non-Roma in order to combat prejudices and stereotypes. They guided us through the complex, multicultural and artistic 8th district of the city, providing us an introduction not only to the urbanistic and historical aspects of the neighborhood, but also to Roma culture and the local sociopolitical context.

Creating (in) community | The first section of our second day was all about sharing case studies from artists and educators working with communities usingthe tools of art. From music to movement, live-action role play and performing arts, we invited practitioners of diverse methodologies they use to co-create with the people they work with. The case studies shortly presented the chosen methods, processes, target groups, obstacles and outputs of the speakers. Participants of the conference were able to try out different co-creation processes on a small scale in order to have a direct personal experience of the tools and impacts of what has been presented to them.

Éva Bubla artist and member of PAD in her workshop-presentation, The scent of common creation invited us to witness the scents surrounding us, as well as the sensations and thoughts they provoke in our minds and bodies. She spoke about her artistic practice as an individual artist as well as the practice of the socially engaged artistic collective, PAD.

Eglė Nedzinskaitė from the Lithuanian National Gallery of Art in her presentation "Where Are the People?" spoke about their exhibition inviting teenagers to become curators, architects, designers and marketing strategists of the museum.

Dalma Tokai, advisor of Common Vibe spoke about the Hungarian initiative fuelled by young Roma musicians inviting children living in small, underprivileged settlements to make music together.

Bálint Márk Túri in his workshop Close to Home - Creating Shared Realities invited us to use our memories and imagination to create links between ourselves and other participants and use them to create shared futures together.

Two brain’s more than one | In the last and most participation-based part of the conference, we created diverse groups, each of which included participants of the conference and speaker-facilitators from all of the above sessions. The groups gathered their experiences and thoughts on the previously learnt methods and learnings and together came up with experimental workshop plans and ideas on how to incorporate the newly gained knowledge and perspectives into their own practice. The aim of this session was to open up different perspectives, share ideas and inspire each other to use new ways to reach our audiences.

Information produced by Fanny Hajdu