In 2018, UK cultural development agency ArtReach (artreach.biz), led an ambitious partnership of European organisations which worked together to deliver the EU Creative Europe funded Voices of Solidarity (VOICES) project. VOICES was a series of new artistic collaborations which explored and celebrated freedom and provided a voice for those who go unheard.
The partners working with ArtReach towards this shared celebration across Europe included the major street arts festival Altonale (Hamburg, Germany), children’s museum Explora – Il Museo Dei Bambini di Roma (Rome, Italy), community development agency CESIE (Palermo, Italy) and international theatre and Festival organisation Teatrul National Radu Stanca (Sibiu, Romania).
The vision for this incredible series of collaborations consisted of four new commissions of site specific outdoor theatre created in the UK, Germany, Italy and Romania, and presented together in each partner country. For the UK performance ArtReach commissioned Parrabbola, a UK based producer of theatre and community projects, that created Wheeze – The Wind of Change, featuring stilt walkers, an aerialist and an intriguing, interactive musical machine. The show explored freedom in an accessible and entertaining way Through the power of music and creative improvisation.
In four of the host cities the VOICES partners also worked with members of the refugee and asylum seeker communities to create processional performance events. These community performances were delivered in Palermo, Hamburg, London and Leicester. These events involved hundreds of local people and newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers in each location, creating colourful community parades, based on the theme of “Welcome”.
The different elements of the VOICES project maximised audience engagement for each set of performances by being performed for free in each location and in highly accessible public spaces.
David Hill, Founding Director and Chair of ArtReach said, “VOICES was a further development of our inspiring European partnership work, which explored new artistic collaboration and with a strong element of audience development including the integration of refugees and asylum seekers.”
VOICES commissions and community processional performances occurred across Europe in 2018 and included appearances at:
STAMP Festival, Hamburg: 1 – 3 June
Sibiu International Theatre Festival: 8 – 17 June
CESIE, Palermo: 6 and 11 July
Night of Festivals, London: 21 – 22 July
Journeys Festival International, Leicester: 13 – 26 August
The new European commissions all created highly engaging and thought provoking performances which were well received by thousands of audience members across the continent.
ArtReach (UK Commission)
Parrabbola created ‘Wheeze – The Wind of Change’ and performed in Rome (Italy), Sibiu (Romania), Hamburg (Germany), South Bank (London UK) and Leicester (UK).
Explora (Rome Commission)
Artstudio created ‘One Table and Five Chairs or Actually Six’ and performed in Rome (Italy), Hamburg (Germany), Palermo (Italy), and Leicester (UK).
Altonale GmbH (Hamburg Commission)
Altonale created ‘Borderline’ and performed in Rome (Italy), Sibiu (Romania), Hamburg (Germany), Palermo (Italy) and South Bank (London UK).
Teatrul National Radu Stanca (Romanian Commission)
TNRS created ‘Behind the Wall’ and performed in Sibiu (Romania), Palermo (Italy), South Bank (London UK) and Leicester (UK).
CESIE (Palermo Commission)
CESIE created ‘Welcome’ a large scale, multi-disciplinary, processional performance piece which featured members of the local refugee and asylum seeker communities, and also hosted three of the VOICES partner performances.
Welcome Performance Parades were also created and delivered in Hamburg, London and Leicester.
In turn, each of the partners hosted performances from their own commissions and from other European partner commissions allowing these new works to be shared and celebrated by thousands of audience members across Europe.