We are at the Ypelarpark community building, after a long day of meeting with different partners, officials and the citizens' meeting about the future use of the "Urban Factory" art centre and community building has just finished. It is well over 9pm as we set down in the lobby with 3 city officials, Maudy Keulemans, the dreamer of the ForwArt project, and leader of a city-wide innovation programme called PACT to strengthen the most challenged neighbourhoods, Ludo Hermans urban planner and Ulco Mes from the cultural department with a glass of beer to analyse the reactions of the meeting, to evaluate ForwArt's development, where we stand and how to manage the investment process. And mostly to figure out how to balance between seemingly opposing interests, to include all needed activities within the new physical space but also to earmark a specific area for cultural and art activities. When we apart at 11pm as i bike back home towards Tilburg city centre I wonder if there is any other parts of Europe where city officials are so enthusiastic and devoted about their work.
Tilburg is one of the most pioneering municipalities in the Netherlands in developing methods for social integration. ForwArt is one of the flagship projects in this innovative spirit, which offers youth at risk from the area of North Tilburg wider perspecitves and alternative, more self-satisfying pathways. Culture for the project ForwArt and for the city of Tilburg is understood as the process of discovering, strengthening and exhibiting the identity of oneself. Thus while all project partners have a key role in the social transformation of the area the role of the partners from the art scene is essential.
Het Zuidelijk Toneel, Corpo Maquina and Fashion Clash have been working with youngsters week-by-week to create new performances, new shows and new creative outputs. During the workshops the young people experience, design, build up relationships and trust in others and in themselves. And most importantly they build up their self esteem. The workshop at Verdiplein and the gym at Belaveld are providing room for experimentation and a safe environment for trial and error.
When Isabelle Schneble, UIA officer was planning her visit to the city of Tilburg, the partners of ForwArt became all very excited to show what were they working on. Thus the visit at the beginning of May became really packed for both Isabelle Schneble, the UIA project managers from Tilburg, and for the UIA Expert as well. We had a tour around Ypelaer park with Wesley Zwart explaining the process of planning the new art centre, had a visit to see the rehearsals of young children with the Corpo Maquina team in the gym of Belafeld, had a meeting with Marianne Linde, director for sustainable city Tilburg at the municipality, had an interesting discussion with Astrid Huijgen at Tranzo about the challenges of monitoring and evalution of such a soft and innovative project. We also visitied the art workshops at Verdiplein, where all the ForwArt activities started with the designation and refurbishment of the workshop, where now Het Zuidelijk Toneel (The Southern Theater Company) and FAshion Clash organises their weekly workshops.
Isabella summarised her experiences like this:
The art engagement approach of the ForwArt project is a new way to define the term culture. It aims to lead to diversity in cultural activities in particular in the type of performances and the representation of different classes of society. On the one hand youngsters can discover their talents and build up self-confidence to take different paths in the future. On the other hand social cohesion is strengthened and a creative community is developing in North Tilburg leading to more trust in each other as well as in public services.
Full respect to the performances from Corpo Maquina artists Guilherme Giotto and Heleen Volman
A telling scene from the performance by Corpo Maquina showng how the freestyle football players are engaging and leading the youth of Tilburg North
The girls at Corpo Maquina workshop are transforming and processing their everyday life into a short scene "welcoming friends at home"
The welcome of the city of Tilburg included a company bike for UIA officer Isabella Schneble to visit North Tilburg
Hooooooodie engulfs creativity and connects Tilburg North with whole Netherlands
Waiting for creativity. Easy guidelines for the hoooooodie project: open creativity on a uniformed size cloth to be added to hoooooodie, a jumper. Aiming to have the longest sleeves ever
A group from Maastricht University is working in Verdiplein on "Hooodiee" to create the longest long-sleeve hoodie connecting hundreds of people's work into a single piece of art
Urban Innovative Actions motifs prepared for hooooooodie
Partner meeting in an open and trustful way. Here they prepare new collaborative actions, such as the graffiti murals which will be a collaboration between WonenBreburg and HZT
CIty urban planner Wesley Zwarts leads the neighbourhood meeting on the programming and the location of the Arts Centre
Opening up the workshop at Verdiplain has brought security and peacefulness to the area. Women are coming together for the Wednesday meeting organised by the HZT theater company
The girls' meeting always starts with eating together. The food is being prepared by the mothers, this is how they get involved. In the background: photo installation of the previous micro-project
Women explore their talent through mini-projects: photography, fashion, drawing, publishing. The process of trial and error
Nissrine is presenting to the women's club the first issue of the self-prepared women's magazine: She is Tilburg
The fashion label RAW LOVE was founded by two young girls and grew out of the activities at Verdiplein. A first sign of new role models being born out of ForwArt