PUSH: EXPLORING IDENTITY, BORDERS AND ‘SAFETY ZONES’ IN THEATRE AND DANCE FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES

Start: 2016

End: 2018

Partner:          IMAGINATE (UK)        Non-governmental organisation/association/social enterprise

NORSK SCENEKUNSTBRUK AS (Norway)    Non-governmental organisation/association/social enterprise

CULTUURCENTRUM HASSELT (Belgium)    Non-governmental organisation/association/social enterprise

ABEN DANS PRODUCTIONS (Denmark)      Non-governmental organisation/association/social enterprise

THE ARK CHILDREN’S CULTURAL CENTRE COMPANY LIMITED BY GUARANTEE (Ireland) Non-governmental organisation/association/social enterprise

Programme: Creative Europe

Action: Cooperation projects

Summary:

PUSH was a 2-year Creative Europe co-operation project involving five partners from Scotland (UK), Belgium, Ireland, Norway and Denmark to ‘push’ and develop thinking, ideas and the artforms within theatre and dance for children and young people in Europe. It focussed on the three themes of Gender and Sexual Identity, (over)protection, and Migration. PUSH centred on the collective thinking of Imaginate (Scotland, UK), Aaben Dans (Denmark), Cultuurcentrum Hassalt (Belgium), Scenekunstbruket (Norway) and The Ark (Ireland).

In order to progress thinking around the three topics, and push the young audiences sector to consider the need to programme, make and support performances that explore them – we delivered the following:

Artistic Labs – PUSH offered three Labs attended by 41 artists from across the 5 partner countries – Imaginate (Edinburgh, Scotland) hosted the Gender & Sexual Identity Lab, Krokusfestival (Hasselt, Belgium) hosted (over)protection, and The Ark (Dublin, Ireland) the Migration one. Each Lab was connected to a local school or other group of children/young people as well as a team of artistic leaders and non-arts professionals with a programme of events for sector peers and the general public.

Those who participated in the Labs expressed that their thinking in relation to the three themes had been significantly enhanced, with exposure to a broad range of new ideas, biases and heightened awareness of the challenges still to be overcome in delivering work around gender and sexual identity, (over)protection and migration for young audiences. Over half of the participating artists had not attended an international residency or lab before.
Festival Visits – PUSH offered five festival visits with a total of 56 artists participating. At each festival, the PUSH group of artists and partners saw world class theatre and dance for young audiences together, presented the project to national and international festival delegates, took part in discussion and networking events and enjoyed social events. 97% of artists attending a Festival Visit said they met new contacts and working relationships.
“I met some people that I could potentially collaborate with and it is also good to meet producers from around the world as this is very helpful for a freelance artist.”
Dissemination – we created a bespoke project website at http://www.pushproject.eu/ allowing us to share information about the project, the partners, the three topics, artists, project events and results with links to the PUSH social media pages and Newsletter sign-up. We also commissioned a series of professional films made by the PUSH Filmmaker including a project trailer and documentary film. They can be viewed on our Vimeo page – https://vimeo.com/pusheu.

Towards the end of the PUSH project, funding was secured for PUSH+, a three-year international project which seeks to stimulate European dialogue and initiate new artistic ideas and performances around the topics of Home, Failure and Different Bodies.
“Being part of PUSH has been really integral to my life since participating in the (over)protection Lab in Belgium. In ways that are hard to quantify and write down on a form. Meeting the diverse range of artists from different countries and disciplines has changed my outlook on my work and life in ways I couldn’t have foreseen at the outset. I feel connected to a new International community of practice and practitioners who share similar intentions and interests in their work as I do, whose commitment skill and openness has broadened my artistic and humanistic horizons. Not only from participation on the Lab itself, but through the ongoing events and exchanges since then which have allowed the PUSH community to continue to grow into itself and expand. It doesn’t feel like any of the connection, solidarity or challenge of PUSH has ended, it feels like the beginning, again.” PUSH artists, final evaluation.

Results:

Website: http://www.pushproject.eu