Handle with Care: Culture for Social Well-being
Mystery 79 Beyond the Obvious 2023
Elefsina, Greece 6-10 June 2023
Handle with Care: Projects Agora
The 2023 edition of the Beyond the Obvious gathering will also feature the Handle with Care Agora. It is an informal marketplace showcasing local and international/European projects working with the topics of care, community and individual well-being, health, mental health and culture. The aim of the Agora is to bring different perspectives from arts, heritage, human rights, health, research, politics, activism etc. sphere and mix initiatives from Greece with similar projects coming from all over Europe and beyond and to create an open space for networking and peer learning.
Handle with Care: Projects Agora is happening on 8 June 2023, 16:00-18:00 in the X-Bowling Art Centre, Elefsina, Greece.
Handle with Care: Selected Projects
Following a public open call, 30 projects have been selected to take part in the Handle with Care Agora. Projects address topics of care for the communities, care for commons, care for climate, care and (mental) health, care and youth, care and borders, care in the cultural sector etc. from the cultural and artistic lens. Below, find the list of selected projects, In addition to these 30 projects, additional 6 pilot projects of the CultureForHealth project will also be showcased at the Agora.
Communities of Care
PERFARE – Performing arts to promote social welfARE access in Europe promotes social inclusion for those audience groups that are marginalized due to psychological and/or physical health issues and/or because belonging to minorities, through the fruition of cultural activities and performing arts initiatives and while engaging in intercultural dialogue.
The MuseIT project aims to co-design and develop an inclusive multisensory platform with interactive technologies for people with disabilities to have enriched engagement with cultural assets and experiences. The technologies we will develop are namely: a toolkit of multi-sensory technologies including Virtual Reality for cultural immersive experiences and a remote musical co-creation platform. With these technologies, we want to widen access to cultural experiences and cultural heritage for people with disabilities. Beyond the development of technologies, the MuseIT partners will develop methodologies for transfer, capacity-building and awareness-raising, addressed to cultural organisations, policymakers and civil society, with the aim of supporting the change of narratives on disability.
The DE-BIAS project aims to promote a more inclusive and respectful approach to the description of digital collections and the telling of stories and histories of minority communities. The project develops an AI-powered tool to automatically detect problematic terms in cultural heritage metadata and provide information about their problematic background.
The aim of the programme is to familiarise adults 65+ with museum education and with methods of working with children in museums, and to involve them in voluntary museum projects as assistant museum educators. It builds on the long tradition of the Hellenic Children's Museum's adult training programme for museum educators, which has been operating since 1989 (the oldest training programme in Greece on museum education), adding the element of active community involvement to enhance individual and social well-being. The project was designed and implemented with ANTAMA, a social enterprise that aims to combat ageism and empower older adults to participate in social life, in order to reach the target group and create a strong interdisciplinary team to support all cognitive, social and emotional needs of the programme participants.
The Mind the Gap project focuses on promoting the inclusion of people facing difficulties participating in cultural activities due to social exclusion, disabilities, or feeling like a minority. The project aims to use creative and cultural workshops to support mental well-being and to explore the barriers that hinder people's involvement in cultural centres.
Remaining Symptomatology and other observations
Remaining Symptomatology and other observations, based on experimental therapies, is a research project at the intersection between artistic practice and scientific knowledge, assuming itself as experimental in what concerns the constitution of new disciplinary intersections and innovative artistic practices of care. It is coordinated by three artists with technical knowledge of therapeutic practices, and intends that this knowledge can be re-signified in the artistic context and shared virtually.
The #BenefitsOfSinging Campaign is an initiative of the European Choral Association to raise awareness for the benefits of collective singing both on the individual and on society. On the website we published which are the physical, psychological, educational and social benefits of singing and we added a curated database with research that proves these benefits. In addition we created visuals people can use and an advocacy fit. This campaign can help anybody who wishes to use collective singing in a project / in a specific context to prove why this would be beneficiary. This includes the benefits on the individual well-being, health and mental health (physical and psychological benefits).
It is a project that has become a regular programme. It has been conducted since 2016 when it started as a dedicated project for improving accessibility of 23 regional cultural institutions in Malopolska, Poland. By inviting non-governmental organisations, it has developed a model of improving accessibility of any public space, including culture sector. However, it moved its focus from the needs of people with disabilities and highlighted that we shall be open to diverse and various needs of people visiting our institutions. Moreover, it emphasized that accessibility will not be successful if we won't let others create those cultural spaces together with us. It provides then not only practical solutions, but inspires cultural, social and educational policies, both at political, but also at strategic level.
CoMuseum 2022 provided an opportunity to explore how museums and, more broadly, the cultural sector, are delivering impact for care and healing within a wider strategic context of culture for health and sustainable development. Keynote presentations and panel discussions set out a series of rich and engaging agendas, including examples of good practice as well as the challenges which the cultural sector faces in this time of profound change and systemic fragility. The 3-day conference looked in-depth at some of the genuinely innovative practice underway in different types of museums and cultural organisations, providing insight and inspiration on the role of culture on healing and care and it began to shape a future where museums can play a foundational role in a healthier society.
Liquid Dependencies is a Live-Action-Role Playing game, in which players simulate and rehearse life in a society that is socio-economically structured to support decentralized, long-term and mutually caring relationships, with a focus on relationships that fall outside the bounds of traditional kinships such as marriage, working relationships, blood-ties and direct quid-pro quo exchange.
The Community Compass is a new project from the Government on the Channel Island of Jersey, aiming to reconnect our community by increasing participation in arts, culture and group physical activity. At the core of the service is a network of Community Connectors. Working together and embedding themselves into harder to reach parts of our society, they are building an integrated map of our society, especially the less visible areas of hardship and deprivation, and then commissioning new activities directly aimed at creating greater social connection and community wellbeing. To date 18 Community Connectors have commissioned a diverse range of 46 activities - including line-dancing, ladies basketball, art therapy training, a youth choir, pottery making and art workshops for dementia patients.
A week-long research residency program, a collective learning and caring experience, a call for creative people whose work is based on research, experimentation, and collaborations. Recently inaugurated (October 2022), it took place in Crete, and brought together nine cultural practitioners from different fields (curators, artist-performers, writers, historians, placemakers, researchers, cultural managers) as well as 6 speakers-workshop leaders (university professors, researchers, architects, performers, writers), all of whom have studied, in different and various ways, the topic of care. Starting with the “Care Manifesto” by the Care Collective, over the course of eight days, during workshops, presentations, and debates, we discussed community-led co-creative projects, case studies and empirical studies on the social organization of care in Greece within broader interdisciplinary approaches, the crisis of social care and healthcare in Greece and abroad, the gradual shrinking of the welfare state, the refugee crisis, the pandemic, and the environmental crisis, as well as the secondary traumas of carers, the lack of (their) care, and ‘care washing’.
In the management and treatment of illnesses category, Culture in Hospitals was an initiative to promote arts and health in hospitals, including the existing projects of live music in intensive wards. The goal was to create sustainable concepts that combine cultural activities with health promotion factors to strengthen patients' mental and physical well-being, staff job satisfaction, and internal and external relations, and to develop new initiatives to enhance cooperation between cultural institutions and hospitals.
In the prevention and health category, the project worked to promote the inclusion of arts and culture into businesses in order to improve the health and well-being among working-age individuals, including early adulthood and midlife. The pilot project was involving three different companies and included art installations, contemporary dance workshops, and creative collaborative residencies.
Care for Commons
The "Aurora Sogna" project is positioned to make a significant contribution to the well-being by addressing the specific needs of the neighborhood community through the development of cultural initiatives that not only meet their needs and solve existing problems but also empower young generations and give them the sense of being “changers of the future.” It's expected that the quality of life in the suburb of Turin will be significantly improved after implementing those initiatives. Consequently, individuals within the community are anticipated to experience a heightened sense of well-being that will lead to the community one. Through developed initiatives, the project endeavors to enhance the neighborhood's overall social, economic, and environmental aspects, enrich the community's cultural life and foster a sense of belonging and social cohesion among its members. The ultimate goal is to achieve holistic well-being, whereby individuals within the community feel better and experience an improved quality of life due to the initiatives implemented through the "Aurora Sogna" project.
Urban exoticism relates offers a unique perspective on the cultural and social issues of gentrification, cultural appropriation, and the postcolonial notion of exoticism. By exploring the peculiarities of urban Athens and the ways in which it has been appropriated as an "exotic" element, Urban Exoticism sheds light on the complexities of modern urban environments and the ways in which culture and identity are shaped within them. Urban Exoticism contributes to the broader discussions on care, community, and individual well-being by examining the ways in which the urban environment can affect our sense of belonging and cultural identity.
In the context of the diploma thesis for the faculty of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens, the conditions of the coexistence between an intergenerational community and the cultural community are investigated for the formation of a mixed-use neighborhood in the ex-industrial complex of “Kronos” at Elefsina’s coastline.
‘Man is Space: Vitic´ Dances’ is a multiyear community art project in a 10-story condominium building block in Zagreb, Croatia. Built by the architect Ivo Vitic´, the building, considered a masterpiece of modern architecture and registered as a national monument (since 2005), was in a deteriorated state that threatened the lives of its 256 inhabitants and passer-by. The project started in 2003 when Croatian artist Boris Bakal (and his artistic company - Shadow Casters) moved into the building and became deeply acquainted with its history, its tenants, and their everyday hardship. The artist aimed to raise the awareness of the tenants and local community to restore this iconic building through a complex interdisciplinary endeavour that combined permanent artistic and social interventions and programs in and around the building. This ‘artivism’ project re-created and socialised a commonly shared space through intensive artistic presence by unifying tenants to collaborate for its preservation.
Care for Climate
“Amoli” for the farmers of Aspropyrgos means "The groove of water that waters the agricultural crops". The project is interdisciplinary. It was created in 2016 in Aspropyrgos, Attica and since then it has been dynamically developing in the fields of art, science, energy, society and education at an international level. It is a collective project that includes the Rural, Post-industrial, Multicultural Community of Aspropyrgos, but now the project is expanding to the whole of the Thriassio Plain. The is Thriassio Plain is the plain that includes the cities: Aspropyrgos, Elefsina, Magoula and Mandra and is probably the least favoured area nationally with a major environmental problem. The project is presented in the program of the institution "2023 European Capital of Culture" being the official proposal of the Municipality of Aspropyrgos.
Melisma is the new year-long cycle of educational and artistic activities for people of all ages introduced by the GNO Learning & Participation Department. It started since June 2022 in the wider region of Northern Evia that has been severely affected by the unprecedented wildfires of summer 2021. The project focuses on man’s relationship with the natural environment and includes a series of experiential artistic workshops of theatrical expression and creative writing, music, movement, dance, and visual arts. In the first stage, each workshop will aim at familiarising participants with the key concepts and techniques of each respective art form in order to provide the participants with the necessary strengthening tools to redefine their relationship with the natural environment and the traditions that derive from it for the community.
Care for Culture
What makes a job good? How is dignity defined in the workplace? Do we share another view on sex work with regard to its online versions? Why should its choice as a source of income conceal a sad underlying story? Is this simply the male gaze or is it a conscious appropriation of the patriarchal system in favor of sex workers? “Call Me Sugar” sets out as a surrealistic performance conference centered on working conditions, sexuality, fetishism, and its commodification. OnlyFans, cam girls, and used underwear are the backdrop for a modular performance that will negotiate taboos, stereotypes, and loneliness through the field of online sex work promising sexual and financial liberation, insatiable pleasures, and arousing images. A performance made of research material, humor, personal confessions, and fictional stories.
Not healing is not failing
The idea that "not healing is not failing" is an important and empowering concept that can be applied to many aspects of life, not just in healthcare, but also artistic processes. We cannot control the outcome at all times. This is a fact. As someone who has worked in art, I noticed that any other outcome, apart form the desired one, is a personal failure. The healing, like art, is a complex process, and it doesn't always happen in a linear or predictable. And that's okay. The important thing is to focus on what can be done with who we are right now.
KAOS develops art projects with artists who may or may not be psychologically vulnerable and has an Artists in residency programme in psychiatry. It brings art and psychiatry together and tells something about the perception of this. Where historically a distinction arose between so-called outsider and insider art, KAOS resolutely chooses to ignore this distinction in the development of their projects. The starting point is the quality of the work in combination with the trajectory and the themes of the artists they work with. As in the arts field, we notice that the boundaries between psychiatry and non-psychiatry are becoming more fluid. However, there are still many prejudices about people who suffer from mental vulnerability and through our projects KAOS wants to challenge these and contribute to a process of destigmatisation.
“We want to help … How?” offers our experiences in assisting refugee and dissident artists in The Green Room in 2022. The Green Room is a center in Cologne, Germany, that provides a wide range of support systems for performing artists. Since our founding in 2020, we had been responding to performing artists’ personal crises, e.g. injury, illness, burnout, loss of work, as well as the difficult challenges arising from the pandemic and its long shadow into cultural patterns and societal structures.
Care & Youth
The work of nursing staff who care for children in the pediatric ICU extends far beyond nursing. In the absence of specialized psychological staff in the hospital, the nursing team manages the mental health aspects and emotional care of the children and their families. This project explores how a cultural product can help deal with this situation. To do this, we have worked with this group of five enthusiastic nurses from a public hospital, different experts from the health field and artists to develop three cultural elements: a graphic novel that, through humour, helps the little patients to spend their stay in a more pleasant way and understand some of the daily life situations of the ICU; a mobile library that provides not only books but different interactive elements for different ages to make the space more dynamic; and a podcast to make known to families and non-specialized personnel the work carried out by the nursing staff.
Emergency Smile (ES) is a program implemented by RED NOSES International (RNI) in different crisis settings that aims to enable joy and promote the emotional well-being and resilience of children and youth affected by crisis and their support systems. The main intervention of the ES Programme is the ES Missions. In a mission a transnational group of specially trained Clown Artists, together with a Head of Mission; develop a holistic intervention in a crisis setting by applying a portfolio of artistic formats, to reach audiences in different ways. People affected by crisis require special care. They usually receive the immediate aid to survive, but frequently their emotional and mental well-being is overlooked.
[about siblings] ([as]) is an innovative R&D project engaging disabled children, their non-disabled siblings & a team of disabled & non-disabled creative professionals. The project will take place in an Athenian neighbourhood in collaboration with local partners and its duration is 10 days. A team of multidisciplinary disabled and non-disabled artists, educators and health professionals will be working with approximately 15 siblings exchanging ideas of playfulness, reality, dreams and imagination. Together they will participate in creative labs. By mixing movement, sound and visual references of illustration and costume design we will create our own music as well as wearable sculptures driven by the participants’ imagination.
Children, especially among disadvantaged communities, with a migration background, with physical disabilities, or from families with a low income, tend to be more isolated and with fewer opportunities to socialize between each other and with adults. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the problem even further, especially when leading to more mental health problems. The aim of the project is to empower the relational skills of those categories of society that are often overlooked when designing cities and its services.
Care & (Mental) Health
ClowNexus is a large-scale cooperation project co-funded by Creative Europe. From November 2020 to October 2023, eight European Healthcare Clowning Organisations are exploring the potential of arts and humour to develop social connections with two special target groups: people with dementia and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Together with the audiences, the goal is to explore moments of lightness and human connection. The art of clowning opens up spaces for humorous and creative self-expression of all those involved.
Through a diverse programme involving music, film, performance art, theatre, dance, literature and visual art, Lithuanian Mental Health Arts Festival seeks to engage decision makers, mental health specialists, service users and broader society in a dialogue on what kind of mental health care we strive to l create. We strongly believe that the answer involves culture, social care, education and other non-medical sectors, active communities, and grassroots movements. The festival aims to encourage new cultural production around the topic of mental health, develop skills for cultural workers to engage in health through creative methods, find new forms of partnerships between (mental) healthcare and culture sectors, and evaluate these partnerships on their effects on reducing mental health related stigma and improving wellbeing.
The AoP in the BSR project aims to improve the mental and social well-being of people in the Baltic Sea Region by promoting and spreading the implementation of Arts on Prescription programmes. We are developing a manual on how to implement AoP schemes, pilot such activities in five regions and continuously improve, adapt and translate the concept. Through this project, we thrive to make AoP programmes more financially sustainable and available to more people.
The non-profit organization Eyes of Light - Arts in Health Hub was founded in 2019. We envision a society where all people with serious illnesses draw strength and joy through art. With creative programs, participatory art and therapeutic photography, we cultivate the conditions for more patient empowerment, well-being and social connection.
Group singing for maternal mental health aimed to help alleviate depression symptoms, helping participants in transforming negative emotions and negative self-perceptions, experience positive emotions, cathartic release, peer support, and mother-infant bonding. Mothers attend the sessions together with their babies and get to share experiences and receive support from the group, sing, and engage in simple music-making activities under the facilitation of a music lead.
Arts and Culture in Nursing Homes project in Central Denmark Region engages with people suffering from dementia, elderly people, and people with disabilities living in care centers. The project aims to investigate whether cultural and creative concepts in nursing homes can improve the well-being and quality of life for people who suffer from dementia.
Care & Borders
Refugee Week is a an arts and culture festival that happens every year in June, across Greece, that aims to celebrate the creativity, contribution, and resilience of people who have experienced forced migration. It is a cultural festival that is designed, curated, and organised by the community, including artists, civil society, refugees, and aid workers. This initiative is an opportunity for everyone to participate in events, activities, and workshops that promote the message of solidarity, inclusion, and social equality.
An inspiring project giving a platform to Syrians living in the diaspora across Europe and beyond. Through participatory storytelling workshops with a unique methodology, we have created an inclusive and safe space where newcomers meet with local residence and all together share stories of a treasure. Through different exercises, they become aware of the breathing, body scanning, gaining confidence and preparing themselves for a unique performance presented to the community.