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Urban Arts and Media Exchange 2015: War and Peace
Start date: Jan 1, 2015, End date: Dec 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The “Urban Arts and Media Exchange 2015: War and Peace” brought together young people interested in media and art from 7 European countries to jointly discuss about war and peace in the current world, to develop a critical attitude towards media coverage of war, to exchange and check their own views in confrontation with each other and to express their feelings and communicate their ideas by means of arts and media. Syria, Irak, Israel and Ukraine: After 70 years in which Europe mostly (with the exception of the 1990s Balkan wars) has been a peaceful place, the continent currently seems to be surrounded by wars and is involved in many of them in various ways. Media has a large impact on how these wars are perceived by the public in Europe; especially concerning the Ukraine/Russia and Israel/Palestine situations, there seem to be wars of images and interpretations. When is it justified to go to war? When are military interventions justified in the name of human rights? When are human rights used to propagandise military intervention that actually serve economical or power interests? These are crucial questions in the current public discourse. Both mass media and independent internet sources may be susceptible to spread propaganda of war. It is vital for a peaceful future of Europe and the world, that young people from both societal minorities and majorities develop a critical and analytical view on media discourses on war and peace; neither taking mass media news reports automatically for truth, nor developing conspiracy theorist attitudes taking all mass media communication for lies. In this project, we invited 37 young people (including group leaders) from The Netherlands, the UK, Romania, Greece, Italy, Lithuania and Germany to live and work together in Cologne; many of which had ethnic minority/ migration background in their countries of residency. They jointly developed creations on the topic of war and peace from their perspectives as young people and citizens of future Europe: Films, media installations and art works that were presented to the public in the context of 24Hz festival, a new festival for media, arts and cultural diversity that ran for the first time in Cologne in August 2015. The participants met in a creative process involving the strengths of every individual participant, and they experienced cultural diversity as a source of wealth and joy, deconstructing propaganda of war as well as ethnisation and culturalisation of conflicts. They were coached by media professionals well-experienced in work in non-formal education processes with international groups, fostering social and intercultural learning as well as participation of every individual. The participants were given the chance to join workshops by professional experts to increase their competencies in arts and media. Those who were on an advanced competency level already were also given the chance to offer own workshops for other participants and for the general public visiting the 24Hz festival. They had the chance to present their creations in the professional framework of 24Hz festival to a large audience, during a vernissage on Aug 25th with subsequent exhibition, and the cinema premieres on Aug 27th. After the exchange, results were published on the project website and on Youtube and disseminated via Facebook and other social media tools. There was a crew evaluation meeting in Cologne. Also, project and evaluation results were discussed with the international partners. The group stayed in contact through a closed Facebook group. Achieved aims and objectives of the project included: – to support self-empowerment of young people to develop critical views on the public/media discourse on war and peace, and to develop ideas and visions for a future peaceful and open Europe – to bring together young people from various European countries, to give them a chance to live and work together – and to learn from each other as well as from professional artists and coaches – to give room for intercultural learning, for exchange of views and cultural backgrounds, for appreciation of cultural diversity – to empower young people to express their feelings and wishes and to articulate their ideas and demands on the subject of war and peace by means of media and arts – to create films, media installations and art works on the topic in transnationally mixed groups; and to share them in public presentation and via social media – to help each participant to grow as a person, an artist and a citizen of Europe, to get a wider cultural horizon and to develop her or his talent, maybe even towards professionalism, thus facilitating social inclusion – to promote the project results and the ERASMUS+ YOUTH IN ACTION programme to a wide public – to raise public awareness of the talent and motivation within current European urban youth
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