DU Dance and Beyond Skin to take part in UK-Germany international collaboration programme, Cultural Bridge

Two community arts organisations from Northern Ireland, Beyond Skin and DU Dance, will collaborate with German community arts organisation, Die Villa, based in Leipzig, to develop a youth cultural exchange project entitled, Ode to Earth, based around the theme of environmental issues.

The project is one of seven recently announced as part of Cultural Bridge, a new pilot funding programme co-produced by Fonds Soziokultur, Germany, in partnership with the British Council, Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales/Wales Arts International, Creative Scotland, and Goethe-Institute London, which advocates bilateral community arts collaboration.

The programme aims to enable social change through the medium of diverse art forms and community arts practices. It promotes cross-border cooperation between the UK nations (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England) and German cultural institutions in various disciplines and participative methods.

Cultural Bridge celebrates bilateral partnerships between the UK and Germany through the collaboration of all UK arts councils and leading German cultural institutions. The programme aims to act as a platform of exchange, enabling others to discuss social issues, strengthen the exchange between the UK and GER, and foster artistic collaboration and cultural democracy.

The seven awarded projects will receive funding of up to £20,000 each and will work in partnership with at least one participating German organisation and one from the four UK countries to implement their socially engaged practice.

Mechthild Eickhoff, Managing Director Fonds Soziokultur, commented,

“The types of projects and activities that will be funded are set out to strengthen the important bilateral relationship between the UK and Germany. This large-scale arts project will support socially engagement artistic practice leveraging friendly exchange and creative collaboration thus enhancing mutual cultural understanding.” 

Roisín Mc Donough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to partner with Fonds Soziokultur and our arts funding colleagues across these islands in this terrific pilot Cultural Bridge programme.  This important initiative offers a valuable opportunity for our artists to engage with their counterparts in the UK and Germany with the aim of using the arts to connect communities, develop shared understanding and facilitate social change through the creation of new work.”

Beyond Skin and DU Dance will collaborate with Die Villa, an arts organisation from Leipzig, Germany, to plan a youth cultural exchange around the theme of environmental issues. The exchange will see young people from Beyond Skin, Die Villa and DU Dance engaging, networking and sharing skills with the common aim of building a dynamic and creative environmental campaign.

Through both virtual and in-person exchanges (including travel to Leipzig and Belfast), they will connect a team of 12 Northern Irish and German youth who are passionate about activism and the arts. The project will culminate in a multi-arts awareness campaign combining music, dance, and advocacy, created by the participants and directed by their vision. The campaign will allow the young participants to reach out further across Europe and the UK to other young people from diverse communities and engage them in creative social development.

Kira Topalian, Beyond Skin Project Manager, said,

“I am very excited to embark on this project and I am looking forward to seeing where this new partnership leads. This project is a great opportunity to engage the community in environmental issues, as well as connect our youth to their global neighbours.”

Mags Byrne, DU Dance, added,

“At this time of climate emergency I am more than pleased to hear the news that members of our Youth Steering Group will have the opportunity to engage and create work on this important issue during our project – Ode to Earth.  Thank you to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for putting us forward for the Cultural Bridges programme.  Looking forward to partnering with our old friends at Beyond Skin and to forming new friendships with Die Villa, in Leipzig.”

The seven successful projects includes:

  1. ENTER – Kulturvilla Nellie, Lörrach, Baden-Württemberg + Creative Black Country, West Bromwich, Birmingham (England)
  2. STAGING THE HIDDEN WORDS – Sommerblut Kulturfestival, Cologne + Writing on the Wall, Liverpool (England)
  3. BRIDGIT ‘Building Better Bridges’ – Fine Arts Institute Leipzig (FAIL), Leipzig + Folkestone Fringe, Kent (England) and Alchemy Film & Arts, Hawick (Scotland)
  4. NORTHSEA NEIGHBOURS – Das Letzte Kleinod, Schiffdorf, Niedersachsen + Shetland Arts, Shetland Islands (Scotland)
  5. ENSEMBLE UPVENTION – S27, Berlin + Govanhill Baths, Glasgow (Scotland)
  6. ODE TO EARTH – Die Villa, Leipzig + Beyond Skin and DU Dance, Belfast (Northern Ireland)
  7. MIND THE GAP – University of Music Lübeck and Emanuel Geibel-Schule + Valleys Kids, Penygraig (Wales)

Follow all of the projects’ progress and latest updates on Twitter and Instagram using #CulturalBridge

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