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Come2Art: Developing life skills on common grounds to build community resilience.

COVID-19 revealed the vulnerability of cultural & creative sector and for this reason many artists needed to find alternative ways for promoting their talents. Simultaneously, the pandemic forces individuals to acquire life skills and to become more resilient and creative in terms of generating and acting on positive solutions, discovering new possibilities and re-imagining the environment.

The project’s vision is to introduce a collaborative scheme between artists/cultural workers currently in limbo and community members, with the aim to promote life skills development through arts and participatory creative placemaking projects such as mural arts, public art sculpture and artistic recreation of abandoned public spaces. This way artists will find a leading social role in building community resilience and citizens will acquire several useful skills such us self-regulation of emotions, flexibility, communication & collaboration, digital content creation, critical and creative thinking.

Come2Art project engages adult citizens (men and women) representatives of ethnic and cultural minority groups, local artists with a focus on the ones working in the field of visual & performing arts and film making, heavily affected by COVID-19 and local community organisations active in the field of civic participation and social inclusion. Overall, they connect through inclusive co-creativity hubs, to promote active citizenship.

So far, the partnership, have examine the role of art and creative placemaking in building creative resilience through life skills development within communities via desk research and literature review. Additionally, they understood the challenges which artists and cultural workers currently face, the opportunities that arise due to COVID-19 and the new roles that can undertake within communities, through 9 focus groups of 10 participants each in 3 partner countries. During these focus groups, different community groups supported to boost their life skills through arts, while connecting with new audiences at community level. Furthermore, a survey in a sample of 141 young respondents in Greece, Italy and Portugal was conducted, in order to identify the training needs of community members in terms of life skills and to investigate the potential of creativity and artistic expression for their development. A few remarks of the survey are showing that: a) artists should engage youngsters in actions where they feel they can give a genuine contribution b) the collaborative and social dimension of the creative practices should be nurtured so that youngsters feel part of a larger group of people sharing the same values and purpose, c) practices where empathy and the sharing of one’s experience through the pandemic is addressed, have the potential to help them to value what they have learnt in the last two years focusing on the positive aspects, and many more useful findings. Lastly, the partnership has defined an intervention framework though a specific action plan for the development and implementation of the project’s next steps.

*The Come2Art is co-founded by the Erasmus+ Programm and the European Union. The partnership comprises 7 key players from 4 EU countries namely: ActionAid Hellas, with strong experience in community resilience building, the Faculty of Fine Arts of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Culture Action Europe, a major European network of cultural organizations, MeP, an Italian VET provider in the field of arts, Clube an active organization in creative placemaking, IoDeposito, an active CSO working with local communities in enhancing cultural well-being, and CP, a grassroot creativity platform.