DreamMakers (2011 -2013)
DreamMakers is an artist led UK-wide project with young people between the ages of 13 and 19, based around the themes of Identity, Community, Dreams and Aspirations. It has been designed by 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning and Eva Sajovic and supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
The project was exhibited in Petersborough, Glasgow, Bolton, Newham and 198 COntemporary Arts and Learning. It has been published as a book and website and featured in Autograph ABP and engage Journal.
MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT:
The goals of the project were to support the young people to develop their powers of self-expression, to view their cultural background as valuable in the context of a multicultural society, as well as tackling prejudice in the wider community.
DreamMakers reflects the objectives of 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, which is an arts organisation that provides representation for diverse communities and advocates for change through art.
A Steering Committee has been established, consisting of representatives from 10 partners from different locations, to create networks (sustainable beyond the lifespan of the project itself), to share experiences and to oversee the processes and outcomes of the project. DreamMakers aims to have an impact on both the micro and macro level: instigating change for individuals, developing a model that might be adopted by others, and empowering individuals to represent their communities in the longer term. The role of the artist is to facilitate each of these processes.
The project methodology imports principles from Gordon Allport’s ‘Contact Theory’, which argues that under appropriate conditions interpersonal contact is one of the most effective ways to reduce prejudice between majority and minority group members, making available broader concepts of identification. According to Allport, to be effective the contact must be positive and involve equal status between the participants: common goals, inter-group co-operations, the support of authorities and personal interaction.
DreamMakers uses contact theory in two ways: 1) ensuring mixed backgrounds in the composition in the groups of young people; and less obviously 2) introducing the groups to community institutions, such as a criminal court, in a context that promotes positive associations on both sides (i.e. from both the perspective of court staff and the young people).
Four locations were selected across the UK: Glasgow, Bolton, Peterborough and London. All have significant new populations of Roma. The geographic spread was designed to establish a network of regional hubs, and to promote understanding of the different issues arising in different environments. In each location a core ‘journalistic’ team of between six and eleven young people from Roma, English Gypsy, Irish Traveller and non-Roma backgrounds was created (Roma being the majority in all cases).
Each team was given training in media (photography, video, sound and the internet) and assistance in recording and collecting material relevant to their lives and their communities.
The project facilitates engagement with individuals from the wider community including other young people, parents, community leaders and organisations. Specific plans are made that relate to the activities and issues already inherent in each location, which have been initially identified during preparatory visits.
The work in each location culminates in a celebratory exhibition. The artist spends nine days in each location, spread over three or four visits, the time divided roughly as follows: three days training (‘pre-production’); four days collecting materials (‘production’); and two days editing material and preparing the exhibition (‘post- production’). A blog featuring participants’ work serves both as an ongoing virtual display and also as a site of contact between the different groups.
The four groups came together for the opening of the final exhibition at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning in June 2013. Two representatives from each group are invited to 198 to co-curate the exhibition.
A programme of events designed around themes of multicultural identity and the role of art in facilitating representation brings together organisations, academics and other practitioners to share in the vision of future for these communities.