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Mesh - Oxford Youth Arts International Exchange
Start date: 01 May 2015, End date: 30 Nov 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Mesh Youth Exchange 2015 is a tri-lateral youth arts exchange led by Pegasus Theatre Trust, Oxford, UK with Crearc, Grenoble, France and BplusC, Leiden, The Netherlands. The three partners have developed strong links through multi-lateral exchanges hosted by Pegasus in 2011, 2012 and 2014, as well as others hosted by Crearc in Grenoble. The theme of the project is 'Democracy and Diversity' enabling young people to look at how they can have a voice in their own futures, learning respect for the democratic process and an ability to value diversity in terms of culture with a particular emphasis exploring what they feel it is important to stand up for in relation to their human rights as young people. This theme will be taken into Mesh and reflected in all aspects of the programme from the types of interactive workshops on offer, to food, through to the social programmes that run alongside the creative ones. The aim is to give young people from different countries the opportunity to collaborate and share their work with young people from across Europe improving understanding and acceptance of different cultures and a step towards building community cohesion, through creativity, performance, debate and discussion and social activities. This will enable young people to respect and value democratic processes in relation to diversity by considering how young people feel about this in their own countries and in relation to Europe and the different cultural influences within it, reflecting on how a society and a culture see, create and record their experiences of the world. Together the young people will explore and develop a positive pragmatic European response to this principle transcending barriers and perceptions and opening doors to new understandings especially thinking about how the human rights principles of freedom, respect, equality and dignity are manifested or not. 40 young people many from black and ethnic minority backgrounds and some from single parent and low income families in the UK, Netherlands and France, will take part in an 8 day and 6 day residential exchange which will include workshops, discussion groups, a structured social programme and practical hands-on tasks related to the daily management of the exchange. Another component of the Exchange is the creative exploration of the theme through a variety of artistic expressions such as street theatre and parades, individual and collaborative performances and skills based workshops. Local community volunteers will contribute to daily practical support in areas such as catering and interpreting. Integral to the exchange will be the nurturing and honing of the young people's creativity and ensemble working which requires the young people to be personally open yet also sensitive to the needs of the whole group in its cultural diversity, ensuring democratic processes are engaged in to make decisions and to give an equal voice to all. The young people will be supported to be creative and artistic risk takers encouraged to see these skills as transferable in all walks of life but especially in relation to creativity and entrepreneurship. Following the Exchange a full report will be written in collaboration with all the partners detailing the key outcomes of the arts workshops, performances, discussion groups, debates, and any other relevant sessions. Much of this report will be the result of ongoing narratives from the young people involved and will detail the longer term benefits of enhanced intercultural awareness and dialogue and a deeper understanding and tolerance of diversity. We believe that as a result of this Exchange many of the young people will be more likely to take an active role in society building on their growing self-esteem and self-confidence.
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