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DAY 1: EU STAR Conference - Lisbon

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

STreet ARt (2019 - 2021): EUROPE FOR CITIZENS

What EU STAR is about?

The two-year project STAR aims at building an international network of towns with a common strategy to promote social inclusion, to foster intercultural dialogue and to decrease marginalization of depressed and abandoned areas of European cities through street art; acting both with international and social activities which have as target groups citizens, youth, NGOs, culture, art, and tourism organizations.The acronym stands for STreet-ARt Project and is funded by the European Union, made by ALDA (European Association for Local Democracy) in cooperation with other 14 countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, the Netherlands) and 16 partners (The Municipality of Amsterdam, Street Art Museum Amsterdam, the French ALDA, the Italian Municipalities of Arcugnano and Reggio Emilia, the Municipality of Lisbon, the Portugal ClubeInternational, the Municipality of Peja in Kosovo, the Municipality of Trebnje in Slovenia, the Municipality of Zajecar in Serbia, the Municipality of Bydgoszcz in Poland, the Municipality of Palma de Mallorca , the Municipality of Pārgauja in Latvia, the Municipality of Vlore in Albania, the Municipality of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Municipality of Primaria Mioveni in Romania). The main socio-cultural scopes of the 'STAR' are to increase solidarity and citizens' participation at a Union level, to promote opportunities for societal and intercultural engagement, to decrease stigmatization of migrants and minority groups, to connect people from different cultures and to use street art as a tool for rehabilitation of depressed and abandoned areas.

It all started with the first online multinational webinar 𝗦𝘁𝗿𝗲𝗲𝘁 𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘀𝘁 𝘂𝗿𝗯𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗺𝗮𝗿𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘇𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 in June 2020, with the first face to face meeting in Vicenza (IT) in July 2021, organized by the Italian Municipality of Arcugnano. The second meeting is hosted by Portugal (Lisbon, October 2021) and finally third and fourth ones will take place in Kosovo (Peja) and the Netherlands (Amsterdam) respectively.

These events are meant to establish a deep connection among European cities and share the best practices on the use of street art for the regeneration of marginalized urban areas and increasing citizens' participation.There are also 3 local paths, that will be organized to involve citizens and schools in street art murals design, and in expressing opinions about the project themes and activities. These paths are aimed at increasing social inclusion and active citizens' participation, promotion of non-formal education, and raising awareness about ethical themes of the project.

What EU STAR Lisbon is this about?

From Wednesday 13 to Thursday 14 of October, I attended online the second international event called EU STAR Conference in Lisbon as a representative of the partner Street Art Museum Amsterdam, for which I’ve been working by now for almost three months. Those second meetings were organized by the non-profit organization operating in the fields of youth, education, training and employability called Clube Intercultural Europeu. The project coordinator Nuno Wemans and Julia San Millán together with their collaborator networks such as ALDA (European Association for Local Democracy) believe in inter-culturalism and in respect of differences developing these principles through any kind of active participation and social inclusion, such as formal intercultural dialogues, art and culture, seminars, exchanges, animated round tables and workshops at local, regional or international level. This time on the occasion of this big event they chose street art, murals and workshops as social tools giving to each institution partners the opportunity to attend the convention then either remotely or in person in order to both explain and share artistic programs and inclusive activities developed in each country with the rest of Europe. At this point, all different nationalities were ready to present to each other the results of their first discussion in Argugnano.

How is EU STAR Lisbon structured and organized?

To improve and influence each other's activities Clube Intercultural Europeu arranged a busy schedule to share on the first date from 18h30 to 20h30 powerpoint presentations starting from the Western Host Lisbon and going so on to the East of the Old Continent. On the contrary, the following day was composed of two meetings: from 12h30 until 14h30 with the expert António Brito Guterres and from 16h until 18h with ALDA’s workshop.

As far as the Lisbon presentation is concerned, Nuno explained to the participants the local project of As Costas da Cidade aimed at reintegrating one of the marginalised areas in the central part of the Lisbon Municipality and at implementing the local communitarian identity and neighbourhood cohesion through street art and guided tours. These activities - closely related to SAMA’s ones - were designed in order to construct an alternative social narrative to slum tourism and to establish a cultural debate between inhabitant tour guides directly concerned into the process of preservation of local memories and those visitors able to question their own pre-existing prejudices and to engage with the local community in an open minded way.

As mentioned before, Lisbon has a deep connection with the projects of our community-based contemporary ecomuseum - SAMA - as it uses street art as a tool for social dialogue between stakeholders in Nieuw-West and local and international visitors. SAMA focuses on dialogue about Nieuw-West as a forgotten Moroccan and Turkish neighbourhood in Amsterdam and brings the neighbourhood closer to the rest of the city through its cultural offer. SAMA holds a purpose-made collection of circa 300 artworks produced from 2012 - when it was still a grassroots local initiative - with international and local artists in various socio-cultural contexts. The main collection of artworks is located openair, in citu, in Amsterdam, accessible to all equally, and is documented and catalogued in our digital library. Our mission and vision demarcate SAMA from other street art organisations in the Netherlands – festivals, fairs, galleries and exhibition spaces. As a cultural and linguistic mediator and an Erasmus+ Trainee at the gallery, I had the opportunity to take part in this discussion presenting our activities related to the current topic.

I reconnected with Nuno’s previous speech about local everyday guided tours and how they can raise social awareness both on the local neighbours and schools and on the foreign schools and regular visitors to the region, emphasizing on the recent tour we had at Schipol Airport. Moreover, Schiphol SPOT community have invited SAMA to come back with a Digital Twist creating a free audio-guide for their employees. We also restored some of the lost artworks together with Erasmus+ students.

Then, I pointed out that we are launching audio guides for DUTCH market in time for autumn break thanks to Cultuufonds Kickstarter Museum funding and that it will be our first paid GPS guided tour, which I hope to translate personally into English, Italian, French and Spanish.

Afterwards, I continued my speech focusing on the wall of the building leased by NGO DOCK, explaining that they bring talents and possibilities together and provide support where necessary. That is the strength of us together in order to contribute to a dynamic society in which talents and opportunities of people are used, where everyone has perspectives and residents support each other. The WALL is part of an official brief from the municipality of Amsterdam in a project called ART IMPACT GEUZENVELD which let SAMA turn the WALL into “The Rotating Mural”, each time giving the democratic choice to the residents to select the artist and artwork they prefer.The last artwork created on the WALL is La Vida by the Argentine artist Alaniz for Food4Smiles project, which was aimed

in educating local families over the importance of the first 1000 days in the life of a child: series of workshops was conducted by SAMA and Food4Smiles sponsor Fred Foundation with local mothers where discussions took place about the food, the lifestyle, the issues and the ideas to solve those issues. The artwork was realised together with local people and SAMA Erasmus+ interns from Paris.

Another important artwork connected to this subject was “Growing Together” - now demolished because of gentrification and renovation plans - produced for SAMA in 2014 by Pipsqueak Was Here in the Slotervaart neighbourhood of Amsterdam Nieuw-West district. Staalman park was a new territory for SAMA, and of course as soon as we saw the Bear it was clear that the only legacy artist that could pull off this job was the famous duo from Amsterdam. Charm, engagement and cheerful colours are the astonishing result.

Starting on the same day of the Conference, we were also producing Surround Sound project - a monumental artwork for Bloomberg Philantropies and Gemeente Amsterdam, co-funded by district municipality Nieuw-West and Amsterdamse Fonds voor de Kunst. The artwork is designed by the Spanish Street artist KENOR and made together with SAMA team and the local volunteers of the community.

Finally, the project ‘Street Art and Democracy’, which we are working on now, aims to produce the first overview of the street art movement 2010-2022 in Amsterdam in collaboration with street art organisations and Amsterdam-based culture makers. In the three components of the project – exhibition, publication and live street art performance – participation and collaboration is taken as the core concepts. On the practical level, these concepts will be applied by encouraging active participation of Amsterdammers – local culture makers, as well as those who support them in cultural initiatives on street art from municipality to commercial entities – in the project production. The result will be a public mural production by renowned and one of the oldest street artists Pipsqueak Was Here with active participation of the young residents of Nieuw-West. In the very participatory nature of this performance, we encourage the residents to be both observers and participants, who are encouraged to learn the skills connected to the craft – thus showcasing the processual and intangible character of this art.

As far as other Nations are concerned, other instances can be found in the street art projects of Bosnia Herzegovina managed by Dzenana Dedi of LDA Mostar (Local Democracy Agency) and in the KITEV’s one within the framework of Freie Universität Oberhausen led by Gianna Gardeweg - with whom I had the opportunity to work in a group the following day during ALDA’s workshop.

The first project started with the identification of the place for the Mural together with citizens and the target places for urban regeneration through street art were identified in the local community. Opinions of the inhabitants were collected through the online survey to promote civic and multicultural participation, reduce the marginalization of minority groups, restore neglected areas and improve the identity of the local community and raise the awareness of citizens in order to prevent discrimination and intolerance. The same process was followed within the framework of Freie Universität Oberhausen to carry out an inclusive workshop where techniques, how to use colors, surface and the tools such as brush, pencils, rolls, paper, cutter were shown to empower the participants to come up with an idea and to have the courage to try it out and be different, also focusing on the idea that the message is the fundamental part of the future artwork.

To sum up, what was agreed at the end of the first meeting was that art tours and works of art can be a great means for creating connections between the representative members of the EU Nations themselves, but most of all they can be used as a socio-inclusive tool to connect the forgotten inhabitants of certain areas and to beutify this last ones emphasizing on the local culture.

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