The Playhouse in Londonderry has launched an ambitious £679,000 EU PEACE IV funded project to create a new truth recovery arts initiative.
The cross-border ‘Theatre Peace Building Academy’ will work with representatives from interface and highly segregated areas (e.g. Tigers Bay, Belfast), historical atrocities (e.g. Monaghan Bombings), victims and survivors (e.g. relatives of those killed or injured) and public sector (e.g. PSNI).
Theatre will be used as a tool to explore community relations issues in a safe and accessible environment, promoting healing and reconciliation in a liberating, healing and transformative way.
The PEACE IV Programme is an EU funded Programme designed to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the border region. It is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
The project, launched at The Playhouse on Tuesday, will recruit eight local artists and a range of national/international artists, with significant experience of utilising arts activity in conflict areas/ areas of social breakdown throughout the world.
An estimated 76 cross-community participants will be reached, and four touring Multi Media Theatre productions will be created and eight creative art projects (through Local Projects). An estimated 4,000 people will attend the Multi Media Theatre productions/Creative art events created.
The Playhouse will work in partnership with Holywell Trust, Thomas D’Arcy McGee Foundation and Queens University Belfast to deliver the two and a half year project.
Playwright, trained oral archivist, theatre producer, director and facilitator Jo Egan is the first of four Socially Engaged Theatre Practitioners for the project. Jo’s six month residency will culminate in a theatre production at The Playhouse in November 2018 and she will be working in and around the North West of Ireland region.
Theatre and film director, writer and producer Robert Rae’s six month residency will begin in September 2018 and end in March 2019 and will be based in South Armagh and Border counties. Robert’s work will be concerned thematically with the tragedies that occurred in the South Armagh and Border counties region in the darkest days of The Troubles.
Pauline Ross, Founder & Artistic Director at The Playhouse said: “Previous work delivered by The Playhouse in our Theatre of Witness project has demonstrated that art can be an exceptional catalyst. It can be deeply transformational, meaningful and purposeful, it can create positive community relations, bring about attitudinal and behavioural change, and create enduring friendships among people from significantly diverse backgrounds.
“This work will also develop wider meaningful creative collaboration, work which aids the delivery and impact of quality Arts & Peace Building work, as well as enhancing the Local Artists’ creative practice.”
Speaking at the launch Gina McIntyre, the CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body said: “One of the core objectives of the EU’s PEACE IV Programme is to promote positive relations between people from all backgrounds and cultures. This project will have a profound impact in fostering greater levels of understanding and reconciliation, on both sides of the border, using creativity as the medium. It will draw upon the skills of internationally-renowned artists with extensive experience in the use of drama and art to help heal divided communities emerging out of conflict.”
Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Executive Office and the Department for Rural and Community Development.
More information about the project is available from www.theatreandpeacebuilding.co.uk.