Building Communities

Panel discussion with the representatives of the local cultural/art scene:
Reactor's laboratory for creation and experiment, Create.Act.Enjoy, Waitingroom Project, Magic Puppet, Shoshin Theatre Association. Moderated by Miki Braniște

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Although the work of the organisations invited to the debate is extremely diverse, there are quite a few points that bring them together. One would be the attention to what could be considered peripheral in Romanian theatre, marked by the desire for success that the big stage brings, namely the interest in being in the middle of the community and working with its members. However, the assumption of working on the periphery is an essential one because it builds and nourishes audiences on which the very existence of central institutions relies although it ignores them. Going further, the invited organisations also project their artistic activity as a connector to themselves and to others, see educational theatre activities or projects in private cultural activity environments or projects that produce a sense of well-being to unexpected audiences, for example hospitalised people. 

Although these activities should be seen as public services, they are most often underfunded and do not receive the attention they deserve even in the public eye, with most large events overshadowing efforts that do not produce quick or large-scale economic results. The organisations present are doing groundwork for future audiences and doing community bonding work. We will try to make a foray into what motivates them to work against the grain, to understand the profile of the work ˝on the periphery˝, the relationship with local audiences, the needs for this work to have a wider reach and be able to engage a greater number of local governments interested in strengthening their communities including through theatrical activities.

Miki Braniște

Reactor's laboratory for creation and experiment

Over the years, the collective around the Reactor space has repeatedly tried to develop cultural programmes dedicated to very young audiences or adult audiences from culturally disadvantaged areas, programmes in which they have tried to adapt to the context in which the activities take place and to the interests and needs of the target audience. Last but not least, the Reactor team has constantly invested in cultural mediation processes and exercises through which they have aimed to open and maintain a dialogue between theatre creators and their target audiences, seeking to train and develop audiences in areas with limited access to culture.

For more: https://reactor-cluj.com/

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Create.Act.Enjoy

Create.Act.Enjoy Association, founded in 2013, has as its main goal to actively contribute to the definition of independent culture in Romania, by carrying out educational, cultural and art therapy activities. The Create.Act.Enjoy team, made up of cultural managers, actors, directors, photographers and journalists, constantly builds its artistic discourse based on the needs of the community it belongs to. An essential role of the association's projects is to develop the concept of well-being acquired through direct interaction with art. 

Over the years, the association has organised community art projects in both urban and rural areas and has sought partnerships with institutions that facilitate its encounters with audiences who do not normally have access to cultural or recreational activities. Among these partnerships are those with hospitals, for the Art Therapy programs, organised from 2012 to 2021. Activities in hospitals have included theatre and performance, music, hand art, virtual reality, film and photography, actively involving patients, carers and healthcare professionals. Among the beneficiaries were thousands of people from rural and small urban areas.

For more: https://createactenjoy.com

Waitingroom Project

Founded in 2009, Waitingroom Project Association is the operator of the independent theatre company of the same name, whose main activity is the production of theatre performances. In most cases, these performances focus on a phenomenon or problem encountered in today's society, namely the desire to renew the language of theatre by creating its own, contemporary and typical style of the association. Since its foundation, Váróterem Projekt has produced 30 performances and an interactive online video installation, eight of which are dedicated to children and young people. We have three shows that are performed in school classes, two of them being educational theatre shows.

For more: https://www.varoteremprojekt.ro/

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Magic Puppet

The Magic Puppet Association is an organization that aims to promote the art of puppetry and stage magic to the general public, regardless of age. The main activities of the organization include creating and performing educational shows for children, conducting socio-educational workshops for young people and involving volunteers in our education projects through cultural projects. 
 

Since its foundation Magic Puppet has been mainly active in rural areas, operating as a travelling theatre company, with its core activity, performances, not infrequently complemented by short talks with children about what theatre/puppet theatre means, handling demonstrations, etc. This created the need for projects aimed at disadvantaged communities.

For more: https://magic-puppet.webs.com/

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Shoshin Theatre Association

Shoshin Theatre Association (www.shoshintheatre.com) is a research laboratory and independent theatre company based in Cluj. Its main objective is to diversify the local theatre scene in terms of genres, but especially in terms of accessibility. The organisation's constant concern is to make theatre with/in/for communities where it is normally difficult to access, looking for the best ways to truly engage the communities it works with. 

 

In recent years, Shoshin has been involved in two European projects that have had at their heart the practice of working with rural communities. One of these is the SPARSE project (www.sparse.eu), which ended last year, an opportunity to learn about and implement best practice from the well-known Rural Touring model in the UK, and thanks to which Shoshin was able to start a small rural touring network in Romania. The other project, funded by Erasmus+, is RIOTE (www.riote.org, acronym for Rural Inclusive Outdoor Theatre Education), now in its third edition, with outdoor/site-specific theatre practices in rural areas at its core.

Miki Braniște, moderator

Miki Braniște is assistant professor at the Faculty of Theatre and Film at Babeş–Bolyai University and has completed a PhD thesis in the field of cultural management and cultural policies. She is cultural manager and curator for performing arts and interdisciplinary projects, president of the Colectiv A Association. She was director of the TEMPS D'IMAGES Festival in Cluj for 10 editions. Between 2009 and 2019, she was a member of the board of directors of the cultural space Fabrica de Pensule. Since 2017, she created, as curator, the Cultural Management Academy program at the initiative of the Goethe Institut Bucharest.

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