We revisit the first ever CreativityUK, the LLG international youth exchange. Inspired by the work of our Greek Partners Kids In Action, the Creativity idea is to foster cooperation, intercultural learning, and development among European citizens, for the benefit of future generations
Creativity UK, an opportunity for young people across the European Union to come together!
The 2010 event was hosted in the UK by LoveLife Generation at The London Borough of Newham’s very well known outdoor education centre, Fairplay House, in Essex. The building is a sixty-six bed house situated in twelve acres of grounds and popular with Newham’s schools, children and young people.
LoveLife raised funds from the European “Youth in Action” initiative which began in 2001 and brings together young people from across the European Community.
Fifty young people from Slovakia, Latvia, Greece, Italy and the London Borough Newham (LBN) spent ten days examining the concepts of discrimination within the European Union and looked at new ways and methods of challenging it through their creative workshops of music, arts and craft, video, photography, dance and drama.
One participant from Slovakia, Wanda, when asked what Creativity meant to her, said,
“When I’m creating something, and I put into it a lot of energy, I’m making it the way I want it, with my own ideas and it’s original, I put into it a piece of me”
Niall, a participant from Newham, described Creativity, at the start of the programme
“…. as a process of converting ideas into reality.” At the end of the event, he reflected that creativity was about “using the creativity of others to inform your work.”
Kristina, a group leader from Slovakia, described creativity as
“something which gives me freedom and I can keep my mind wide open”
Desmond, a group leader with the UK group, described creativity as
“….providing people, and in this case young people, the opportunity to make mistakes”.
The young participants described discrimination and its impact on their communities in different ways. The Slovaks spoke of their historical conflicts with their neighbouring countries and Hungary in particular. They also spoke about their relatively small population of 5.5million people, compared to their European partners. The Latvians talked about their struggles with Russia, their need to maintain good relations for economic reasons and their fears. The Italians explored the difficulty of gaining Italian citizenship through the paternal or maternal lines. The UK participants spoke of their rich but destructive history, where great successes were often associated with great injustice.
The workshop leaders worked hard to achieve some positive results. The arts and crafts group explored materials and techniques across a range disciplines to explore the theme of discrimination through two group work exercises; in pairs discussing discrimination, and then pairing up with a fresh partner to discuss a given topic, e.g. race, gender, sexuality.
The video and photography group spent their first session watching a film called “Milk”, about a gay activist (Harvey Milk) elected to San Francisco’s City Council in 1977 and who was America’s first ‘out’ gay politician. This documentary about his career and the repercussions of his assassination won an Oscar. The participants drew much inspiration about discrimination from this exercise and the rest of the workshop. This is what they had to say:
Johan (Latvia) –
“If I was to say I did not enjoy the workshop, then that would be a lie. I did enjoy every bit of it.”
Kaspars (Latvia) –
“This was something new for me, all this project, this workshop and these people. I really enjoyed this time, and I want more. Last words – when you make again this project, ask Latvia, Gulbene again. I want to come back! See you soon!”
The Drama workshops took place both in and outdoors. The young participants spoke about the thrill of walking on stage with an objective in mind and learning the skill of having peripheral vision on stage. One group leader described the experience of the drama workshops as “… training the skills is more important than the preparation of the spectacle itself. …. the big potential of creativity and improvisation is when you let go your thinking and trust in your creative skills.”
In the music workshop, the young people composed their own songs and made a music video. They also learnt how to play different musical instruments, e.g. drums, electric guitar, and an assortment of percussions. The participants enjoyed themselves and said of their workshop leaders “….they were patient and didn’t argue with us when we did something wrong.”
The dance workshop was described by participants as “the best workshop”, but they missed having mirrors. The young people were very open to exploring many dance styles, from influences modern European styles to Latin America. Through teamwork and development, they came together for a stunning final performance that was emotional and inspiring.
The final event was a celebration of the coming together of all the workshop activities with performances from the participants. The young people were able to showcase their creativity to the max! Dynamic performances weaved across the building, arts and crafts told us stories, the music team sang from their hearts, the dance team stunned us with movement, the video team screened films about discrimination and drama decided to chase everybody around the site an amazing final performance designed to inspire, involve, and motivate!
Following the success of the event this year, LLG is preparing CreativityUK 2. Watch this space.