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Building Collective Resilience

ASSITEJ International has been awarded a significant grant from the European Union for our three-year Project, ‘Theatre & Performing Arts for Young Audiences: Building Collective Resilience’. This grant recognises the importance of the performing arts in the lives of children and young people and the work that ASSITEJ International does in connecting and unifying practitioners worldwide.

ASSITEJ International’s community of Theatre & Performing Arts for Children & Young People practitioners places unity, connection, cultural understanding, and empathy at the heart of all we do. In these times, international cooperation can build the bridges we need to live in peace, with the youngest and most vulnerable our chief concern.

“During these pandemic times, the young have been affected by isolation, deprivation, and diminishing hope for the future […] Theatre and performance have continued in whatever way possible, with artists who are struggling for survival still striving to bring joy and laughter, to create beauty and wonder in whatever way they can.”

Sue GilesPresident of ASSITEJ International

The ‘Building Collective Resilience’ Project builds on the work we already do to increase our capacity in almost every area of the ASSITEJ International Working Plan. It underpins the friendship and cooperation that is the hallmark of our Association.

During these pandemic times, the young have been affected by isolation, deprivation, and diminishing hope for the future. Our young people’s mental health is profoundly impacted, which is worrying everywhere. Theatre and performance have continued in whatever way possible, with artists who are struggling for survival still striving to bring joy and laughter, to create beauty and wonder in whatever way they can.

This grant sees and acknowledges the vital role of ASSITEJ International in supporting the rights of the child and young person to arts and culture and to self-expression – at all times and especially in times of crisis.

ASSITEJ International is grateful for the European Union’s dedication and support to the arts, which will enable our Association to do more for our members and for children and young people everywhere, fulfilling our mission and reaching further than ever before.

This grant recognises our global TYA community and network as one of the most essential in the times ahead – to empower and connect the younger generation as we move towards a future full of possibility, humanity, and extraordinary art.

Project Overview

The Project is designed to build collective resilience across the network of cultural and creative organisations working in the Theatre & Performing Arts for Young Audiences (TYA) sector. The sector is highly active, not only in providing children and young people with creative and imaginative theatrical experiences for the sake of art and culture itself but also delivering positive social impact to the next generation. After the deeply felt effects of COVID-19, this Project is determined to ‘build back stronger’, creating a Network with sufficient resources and relationships that secures the future of the industry and the young people it serves. It focuses on the impact of the TYA sector on the cross-cutting priorities of sustainability, diversity, access and inclusion, and representation. It seeks to galvanise the possibilities of broadening cultural contributions and disseminating art for all. The Project centres ASSITEJ International as the network catalyst for connection and involvement, the collation of research and best practice, and the increase of artistic voices. It focuses on porous borders and spotlights children and young people as cultural actors and contributors to the health and resilience of the arts community. Through live gatherings and a broad online reach, the ‘Building Collective Resilience’ Project will engage the dedication and expertise of a vibrant and highly engaged arts sector and its audience, one that is often forgotten in data and research and yet one that is most vital to the times ahead. It will empower and connect younger generations through Theatre & Performing Arts as we move towards a future full of possibility, humanity, and extraordinary art.

Project Coordination

The Project is being co-ordinated by the Executive Committee of ASSITEJ International alongside a staff team consisting of Louis Valente (Secretary General & Projects Director), Chris Blois-Brooke (Managing Director – Knowledge & Network Director), Roberto Frabetti (Managing Director – Finance), and Marissa Garay (Project Producer & Coordinator). ASSITEJ International is the beneficiary of European Union funding, working alongside the Small Size Network as an affiliated partner.

Access, Diversity, and Sustainability

The Project includes a range of priorities. Most importantly, it aims to:

  • Increase the sector’s ability to expand cultural access and participation through research, data collection, and the involvement of children and young people;
  • Stimulate artistic exchange & networking through developing the ASSITEJ Artistic Gatherings & ASSITEJ World Congress and Performing Arts Festivals for Children & Young People, Coffee Sessions, Umbrella Sessions, ‘Internationalise Your Practice’ Sessions, and more;
  • Qualify the conversations and strategic work on inclusion and sustainability;
  • Represent the sector and advocate for the value of theatre and performing arts for children and young people together with our members;
  • Continue to develop the engagement of the performing arts community in the life and mission of ASSITEJ International.

Engagement Of ASSITEJ Professional Networks

The Project will impact all ASSITEJ Professional Networks and some of them will be directly engaged in implementing the Project activities.

  • The Small Size Network will lead research on how small children are perceived and will create spaces for artistic development in performing arts for early years;
  • The International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network (ITYARN) will research the value of performing arts and create knowledge about how many children have access to theatre and how the sector can expand this access;
  • The International Inclusive Arts Network (IIAN) will support the work on inclusion, diversity, and representation;
  • The Next Generation Network will synergise and expand the impact of the programmes directed towards emerging artists.

Support For Three Years

ASSITEJ International has been supported with this funding for three years (January 2022 – December 2024). Reapplying to the same funding strand may be possible after this period.

The total Project budget is approximately 837,000 EUR (932,000 USD). The Project is co-financed by the European Union, contributing approximately 669,000 EUR (750,000 USD) and by the Danish Arts Foundation, contributing 67,000 EUR (75,000 USD), over the three years.

TYA – A Unique Sector

The Culture strand of the ‘Creative Europe’ programme of the European Commission programme supports a wide range of cultural and creative sectors, including performing arts.

This is the first time Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) is being supported among the European Cultural Networks funded by the ‘Creative Europe’ programme. The Project is designed to complement the existing cultural networks and to address TYA as a unique sector in its own right.

Read more about European Cultural Networks.

Global Impact

ASSITEJ International is a global Association, and the Project is designed to support TYA across all continents. This is achieved in the Project through a significant digital component to create global access to ASSITEJ International events, promote knowledge sharing across borders, publish global research, and support international activities taking place at the ASSITEJ Artistic Gatherings and ASSITEJ World Congress and Performing Arts Festival for Children & Young People events in Sweden, Serbia, and Cuba.

Project Evaluation

ASSITEJ International has appointed Dr Richard Johnson Sallis and Dr Jennifer Andersen from The Univeristy of Melbourne in Australia as external evaluators to assist the Executive Committee and Secretariat staff to examine to what extent the development of its network is building the collective resilience of the global Theatre & Performing Arts for Young Audiences sector.

Appointed to this position in August 2022, Richard and Jennifer will conduct the project evaluation on a rolling basis until the project concludes in December 2024. Together, they are examining aspects such as:

  • The strategic direction of the Association;
  • The development of new working modes and models within the Network;
  • The new strand of research, data collection, and related advocacy in the project;
  • The Organisation’s transition towards sustainability, in all its forms;
  • The breadth and depth of ASSITEJ International member engagement and development;
  • The extent to which ASSITEJ International creates a discernible ‘community of practice’.

They have alreay produced a baseline evaluation report (September 2022) and are working towards midline (December 2023) and endline (December 2024) evaluation reports. These documents act both as means of validating the accuracy of the project’s self-reporting as well as offering an independent assessment of progress towards network development goals.

Dr Richard Johnson Sallis is an internationally recognised expert in the area of research-based theatre, especially in regard to its application in education.

He is Head of Drama Education in The University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education (MGSE). He is also the immediate past Chair of the University of Melbourne Theatre Board and the co-editor of the MGSE publication, Journal of Artistic and Creative Education (JACE).

His particular research interests include drama/theatre education; drama for wellbeing; theatre history; theatre for young people; diversity and inclusion in teaching and learning; and initial teacher education.

He is a member of the International Association for Creative Arts in Education (IACAET), Drama/NZ, and the Australian Children’s Theatre Foundation. Richard is a life member of Drama Victoria and is a recipient of the Drama Australia President’s Award for outstanding contribution to drama/theatre education. He also has affiliations with IDEA (International Drama and Theatre in Education Association), IDIERI (International Drama In Education Research Institute), Arena Theatre Company, and the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA).

His research has garnered a number of awards including the Freda Cohen Award for the ‘Most meritorious Masters thesis in education’, the ‘Fred Knight Research Scholarship’, and the American Alliance for Theatre Education’s (AATE) Distinguished Dissertation Award for his PhD entitled, ‘The Drama of Boys: an ethnographic study and its performance’.

Jennifer Andersen
The University of Melbourne

Dr Jennifer Andersen is a theatre maker, arts educator, lecturer, and researcher at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on out-of-school programs led by museum educators, artists, and actors, as well as the impact of these programs on child and family engagement. She brings many years of experience as an actor, theatre maker, and facilitator of community arts experiences with her theatre making practice centred around creative exchanges with children and families in community settings.

Explore The Activities In More Detail

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