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Cross Cultural Collaboration
Start date: Jul 1, 2015, End date: Aug 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The Cultural Collaboration project took place at The Forest, an arts charity based in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Forest is a volunteer run, non-hierarchical and consensus based decision making project, supporting the arts and artists. The volunteers involved in the Cultural Collaboration EVS project were selected from across Europe including both program and partner countries. As an inclusive space, we selected people regardless of their social, economic or cultural background. Participants were selected based on their motivation for being part of such a project, and the benefits that they could gain from being part of the project. The objectives of the project were to provide opportunities to the individuals involved to increase their skills, creative skills, competencies, self esteem and social awareness through collaborative creative projects. The project also aimed to help broaden the awareness of volunteers in the local community to other cultures in Europe as well as provide a living example of the opportunities that are available to them within the context of EU funding. There were 6 participants from across Europe between the ages of 22 and 28. They had various backgrounds in terms of education, training and background. As the group was expected to collaborate on projects, having a broad mix of interests and experience was essential. It is seen that learning through peer groups can be of a high value to the outcomes of the project and individuals involved. The participants became an essential part of our volunteer base in both a work and social context, eventually taking on high responsibility roles within the organisation and contributing practically, socially and holistically to both the direct Forest community and the arts community of the city at large. They worked within existing working groups to deliver the aims of the charity and revitalised working groups that were missing energy. They attended meetings to understand the structure of the charity and develop good practices in consensus based decision making processes, becoming part of the central running team of the charity and contributing to decisions on best practise, recruitment, programming and development. The participants worked in our vegetarian cafe that forms the hub of our community space, all eventually becoming evening managers of the cafe, despite some of them having little to no relevant customer service experience. They also worked at our other sites at gallery Interview Room 11, helped to run external Forest events such as our stage and bar at Meadows Festival, and worked assisting partner organisation as part of organised internships. They made creative and documentary content on behalf of Forest, and both revitalised and created different elements of the organisation. They provided invaluable practical and creative assistance for long - running projects, such as the re-location of many of our facilities, and the re-organisation of our organisational communication processes. The volunteers not only became involved with one of the projects currently running within The Forest, such as Events team, Sound team, Gallery team, Programming and Artist's Facilities, but also started up their own personal projects, such as open language workshops, outdoor events and art projects. These were self directed but supported by our dedicated team of volunteers. The self directed projects involved other members of the community, which expanded upon our reach as an organisation. Some of the self directed projects actually created links between The Forest and different organisations in Edinburgh, expanding and building on our network in the city.
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