CYC-Online 51 APRIL 2003
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The Peter Sabroe Seminary and the Aarhus Festival: Cultural work in practice as part of the training of social educators in Denmark

Peter Friese

For the last decade the National Institute of Social Educators in Aarhus: Peter Sabroe Seminariet, has developed a cultural project in the middle of the yearly Festival of Aarhus. We have been working with different target groups; from very small children to families and grown-ups, thus fulfilling a triple purpose:

  1. Developing a module in our 3-year bachelor programme (Social Educators). In this sense, the festival work is simply and only a normal part of our training programme.

  2. Giving in practice a very visible contribution to the acknowledgement amongst “ordinary people” of the value of social educators in society and of course of Peter Sabroe Seminariet as a training institution. In this sense, the festival work is also a PR-project.

  3. Giving a “present” to the City. Before our work started 10 years ago, the festival was merely for grown-ups. Our contribution has had great effect firstly on other groups working with children and youth to see that their contribution to the festival week could be worthwhile. And secondly of course directly to the 200,000 inhabitants of Aarhus. 10,000 children, youngsters, parents and social educators have visited our part of the festival.

After 7-8 years work with children between 3 and 10 we changed our target group two years ago. The background was that during the festival a lot of youngsters were flooding around more or less drunk and without having anywhere to go. So we thought it very appropriate that Peter Sabroe Seminariet did something about that.

So we started the Get2Gether–projects. Get2Gether is a cultural project for youngsters, by youngsters and with youngsters.
We have been doing two Get2Gether festival-projects for youngsters: Get2Gether in the west of Aarhus in 2000 and Get2Gether in the Turbine; a very big empty warehouse at the harbour. In both projects 120 kids between 15 and 17 participated and around 200 students from Peter Sabroe Seminariet including approximately ten lecturers and consultants from the teaching-staff. Both projects were performed mainly during three weeks of intense work.

The Get2Gether cultural project builds on an idea that the youngsters should set up a show for other kids of the same age with a content that they choose themselves within the overall theme of the festival that year and with an aesthetic expression that they choose themselves. Together with lecturers from Peter Sabroe Seminariet as well as external consultancy the students of social education should support the youngsters “by means of dialogue and participation in aesthetic learning processes “in formulating the young peoples ideas, visions, worries and so on.

Thus the raw material of a show is performed in a dialogue with the youngsters who participate as experts in their own lives.

In the year 2000, Peter Sabroe Seminariet made an agreement with the Festival Week of Aarhus and the office in the Municipality of Aarhus who work with all the public schools in the area. A partner-ship around cultural projects developed for a period of four years. This long-term co-operation gives good opportunities to include the public schools at a very early stage of the project (6 months before) and it also gives a great opportunity to integrate the cultural project in the long term planning of the public schools and of the Aarhus Festival itself.

It is characteristic for the project that we want to change the setting from year to year. By working in new settings every time, the school pupils and the students from our seminarium are challenged to create their own project and thus contribute to innovation inside the framework of the Get2Gether projects.

The visions
The visions of the project and the co-operation is to promote:

Get2Gether” – around what?
Get2Gether is the common title for this cultural project that recurs to The Festival of Aarhus every year. Every project year we choose a theme and a subtitle. The theme is chosen on the platform of the overall theme for the whole festival of Aarhus.

In the year 2000 Get2Gether had the common theme: “Cultural meetings”. The setting was buses transporting the audience from the City of Aarhus to Aarhus West. Here “in the buses “the first events of the show were performed. The second part of the show took place at the theatre of Aarhus West. Here you could see one hour of “total theatre”, using a lot of multimedia technology, for in-stance big screen projectors, live produced electronic picture manipulation of small films that the kids had made, and pictures delivered from the internet. The visual scenography was used to underline the scripts of the youngsters and to enforce their artistic expression, thus compensating for their lack of professionalism in the manuscript.

The theme of Get2Gether 2001 was: “Party on pure energy”. This time we played our show in a deserted factory in the harbour area of Aarhus. This very big and empty room was “dressed up” for a multi-theatre show, which during the performance involved the audience as an important co-player. The energy was developed from the music and the dance, and slowly the show changed into a big party where the audience was involved through the activities of the performers and the rhythm of the dance and the pictures.

The audience was thus not exposed to a lot of moralising concerning the harm in using drugs and alcohol “they simply experienced in their own body, how you could actually have a party together without any drugs or other stimuli from the forbidden list “in the middle of the day.

In 2002 the overall theme of the festival is “Crossing boarders “Lusophonia” (focusing on the Portuguese speaking countries such as Portugal, Brazil, Capriaty, Mozambique, Angola and others). And the theme for our Get2Gether 2002 project is: “Get2Gether “outdoors”.

This time we will be in the streets of Aarhus. The project will take part in different parts of the City and will move towards a common meeting place in the centre of Aarhus as a climax of the show.

Project aims
The Get2Gether concept builds on the multi-cultural aspect as a fact in the society that young people live in. Some of these youngsters have solid experience with cultural meetings and live their daily life in a multi-cultural reality. Other youngsters only know of multi-cultural meetings through pictures, shows and media.

Generally, we suppose that young people are used to meeting other people in different arenas through their many different activities and interests. But not all young people have a positive experience or simply an imagination of diversity as a resource “a lot of prejudice is playing a role here. The Get2Gether concept challenges the lip service that we see all over on “diversity”, and instead it tries to create a framework for community growing out of the common work in a project, and on a platform of diversity as a resource necessary in all phases of the project work.

The concept of Get2Gether also builds on a basic respect for the youngsters as individuals and as experts of their own lives. Thus the methods in the project have to be developed to support the youngsters in expressing their visions, dreams, problems, thoughts, motives and so on. A positive experience that we hope will have the effect, that the young people experience joy and competence to formulate thoughts, ideas and visions and make themselves visible in a constructive way to the rest of the society. These are necessary competences in a modern life with many choices and for citizenship in a democratic and multicultural society.

The International Child and Youth Care Network

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