Celebrating 8 Years of Erasmus+ Funded International Collaborations

Date published: 23 Jan 2024

Posted by: Alma Solarte-Tobón

Group of people posing with their arms up

Over the past 8 years, City Arts has embraced enriching collaborations with international partners. Funded by Erasmus+, these projects have reached over 500 participants and resulted in the creation of two toolkits and a poetry app.

Intercollege, an organisation based in Aalborg, Denmark, was a pivotal partner in these projects. Our journey together began in 2015. Since then, we’ve successfully led impactful projects with various organisations from Europe and Latin America. This blog post is an overview of those projects.

Copenhagen Light – International Residency, 2015

Group of people surrounding a statue of Robin Hood

Our first European project with Intercollege marked the beginning of an exciting journey. City Arts hosted student artists from the Ecological Production School in Copenhagen for a two-week residency in our (then new) venue in Hockley. With them, we explored creative businesses and cultural venues across Nottingham. The culmination was “Copenhagen Light”, an exhibition on 18 April 2015, which showcased the young artists’ achievements.

I was determined to get more UK-based arts organisations involved in Erasmus+, as I felt that the UK arts and community sector had so much to offer and gain from EU best practice sharing. Involving City Arts in Erasmus+ meant that the projects gained a dedicated, competent and flexible partner. It assured that the project results were of the highest quality.

Daniel Shillcock, Intercollege 2015

Heritage Hunters – Study Visit and Toolkit, 2017-2018

Group of people watching a Robin Hood impersonator
Photo by Mary Strickson

Our journey led us to the Republic of Moldova for a study visit, exploring the country’s strategies for engaging young people in arts, culture, and heritage. Following the visit, we ran a week-long seminar in Nottingham, developing a toolkit to help engage young people in heritage projects. That week also included visits to venues Nottingham city venues including Sneinton Windmill, the William Booth Centre and Bromley House Library. The participants, including youth workers from the UK, Denmark, Armenia, Romania, Turkey, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine, found the experience enlightening.

I knew so little about Moldova, when this opportunity came about I was so intrigued, I’d never been anywhere like Moldova, or experienced that culture. It was a privilege to have been part of Heritage Hunters, I still talk about the experience all these years on, and feel grateful to have shared that with all the other young leaders from around the world. My main take-away was that there are different ways to feel connected to your past, your heritage, and it might be something really personal to you.

Meridith Dickin

I got involved in Heritage Hunters because I was interested in meeting people from other countries and learning about their culture. I was surprised that during the project I learnt not only about their culture but a lot about my own local heritage through the visits and workshops we did together.

Nicole Solarte-Tobon

ARTployment – Study Visit & Training Opportunity for Young Artists, 2019

Four people standing on a beach

Focused on young artists, ARTployment involved a study visit in Nottingham and a training course in Slettestrand, Denmark. Participants, including representatives from various European organisations, learned about entrepreneurship from creative people and venues in Nottingham. The collaboration involved partners from Denmark, Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey, and Lithuania.

I wanted to learn more about producing my own work and generating my own creative ideas, as opposed to working for others and helping realise their ideas. I definitely achieved this…I met new, creative, and like-minded people and forged new friendships. I gained in confidence through the practice of pitching ideas to friends and receiving constructive and thoughtful feedback.

Nikki Charlesworth

I learnt so much about culture, language, arts, business skills, creative practices, skill shares, communication and experiences. The support received from City Arts and Intercollege to attend was invaluable and enabling, it allowed me to have new experiences I hadn’t thought possible! The training course we completed was so enriching, I came away having learnt so much, excited to share with others and put it all into practice!

Mary Strickson

PoGo: Poetry on the Go – Poetry App Development, 2020-2022

Group of people standing on a beach with boats in the background

Despite challenges posed by the global lockdown, the ambitious ‘PoGo’ project successfully showcased poetry by and to young people across Europe. It was born from an idea for an augmented reality app by Rob Newton. The PoGo app, developed by Robin Shackford, features films of poetry by young people supported by six European organisations. The project overcame COVID-19 restrictions and the app is still available for young people to enjoy.

I got involved with POGO because I wanted to help create a platform for people to understand each other and be understood, no matter their language. I got the experience of a lifetime when I travelled to Denmark. Our cultures and languages were so different but we connected through our creative abilities. We learnt to break down language, religious and cultural barriers amongst ourselves, and found what was most important, our new-found friendship and writing.

Nidaa Raoof

Artployment – Training and Toolkit, 2021-2023

Group of people holding certificates

Building on the success of our first Artployment project, we broadened our efforts to promote entrepreneurship to young artists globally. The project produced a toolkit developed in partnership with InterStep in Denmark, Misión Rural in Colombia, and Asociación de Jóvenes para Honduras. After creating the toolkit in Honduras, we ran a training programme for youth workers and artists in Bogota, Colombia. Later, each partner organisation led training sessions for youth workers and young artists in their different countries.

Visiting Honduras offered a unique perspective on different ways of addressing economic challenges, using art and craft as tools for regeneration. Witnessing the transformative impact of public art, similar to initiatives in Nottingham, emphasized the shared power of creativity in expressing local identity. This experience shaped our understanding of the responsibility of publicly-facing spaces – like our Window Gallery – in amplifying underrepresented voices, whilst sparking reflection on global differences and commonalities. Creating the Artployment toolkit with international partners expanded our horizons, revealing diverse approaches to artist collaboration, identity articulation, and positive societal change.

Suzannah Bedford