City Arts team blog from the International Community Arts Festival in Rotterdam

Date published: 1 Apr 2014

Posted by: Joe Pick

Peter Schumann from Bread and Puppet

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The City Arts team have returned from the International Community Arts Festival in Rotterdam.

City Arts attended the festival as representatives of EMPAF, the East Midlands Participatory Arts Forum, who led two workshops during the festival, exploring the different ways work we work with communities.  A group of representatives from EMPAF organisations went on a pre-festival tour visiting arts projects in Holland in the ‘Caravan of Dreams’. Throughout the tour and festival EMPAF people have been blogging about the things they’ve seen and the people they met.

On the first day of the festival, City Arts Creative Programmes Officer Alison Denholm was part of performance by Bread and Puppet, a politically radical American puppet theatre, active since the 1960s and considered very influential on the development of community arts. Alison wrote about the experience:

“The Legend of the True Cross, was about the last twig that came out of paradise and grew over the ages to become the wood of the cross. The final moments of this second piece had a space in it at the end, left deliberately in order to find a local group of participants to fill it…

…A group of about 30 ICAF delegates made up the willing participants, and in the next couple of hours we built something to go in the space. Led by Peter Schumann with his supporting cast of puppeteers, our group became a single entity, and was ‘operated’. It was an interesting process, very physical, with a sudden breaking down of personal barriers…30 new friends whose names I didn’t know, but who were standing very close! The overall performance was about an hour, and our group were part of the final moments. Elements started to unfold, from a cast of 30 hidden in plain sight in the auditorium, we moved on stage for a stylised battle scene. No sides, no goodies or baddies, but everyone dies in the end…”

Read more of Alison response to the performance on the Caravan of Dreams blog.  Elsewhere Madeline, City Arts’ CEO, writes about meeting Joost Heijuthuijsen of the Incubate Festival in TilburgCheck out the rest of the blog for videos, photos, response and discussion from other members of the EMPAF group.