This project was designed to be implemented through 5 principal organisations (from 4 different countries): a foundation, a network of cultural centres, a museum with international status and reputation within the field of cultural heritage, a union of artists, and a regional government, supplemented through the involvement of associate partners from other European countries. Combining the skills and experience of this partnership provided an unprecedented body of expertise capable of delivering the project at a practical level and with credibility recognised by major international organisations. The project was based on the premise that the transnational circulation of cultural and creative works, combined with the cultural mobility of operators, performers, and artists, has an immeasurable capability in promoting cultural understanding and diversity within the European Union, bringing together people of different cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. The transnational circulation of skills and artistic specialties helps foster understanding between traditions and people from a variety of backgrounds. The power of art and artistic performance in uniting people is a widely accepted concept.
Through the various activities the project strongly has reinforced the ability and capability of cultural/creative players to operate internationally through understanding new skills/artistic techniques, and offered the opportunity to transpose those to culturally varied situations. The project used history as inspiration for cultural artistic development and direct interaction between arts, as well as crafts skills, creating a unique fusion of arts and crafts, and of artists, craftsmen, and performers. Our goal was to recreate the initial bridge between arts and traditional crafts, which were separated in the last decades of the former century. Reconnecting arts and crafts is a way to foster innovation in both fields, to reconnect both with new audiences, to develop new business models, new potentials for markets.
It set a series of general objectives which were as follows:
- Usage of creativity and arts as an effective tool for the preservation and the enhancement of European identity represented by its heritage;
- Rediscovery of traditional themes and ways of artistic expression as an inspirational drive for young artists and creators in a multicultural context;
- Employment of new technologies in the design of heritage areas, with an emphasis towards placing the traditions in a modern cultural European-relevant context. (Establishment of the Art and Crafts Centre – ACC, in an important heritage building, Bánffy Castle, Bonțida.)
In order to progress towards the resolution of such objectives, a series of problems were identified relating to the relationship between arts and crafts in each country, as well as to the value and tradition of traditional crafts skills. A lack of correlation between the arts and crafts could be perceived in each of the principal participating.
Specific Problems that were identified within this context were as follows:
- Need to reconnect the artists and craftsmen in creative works;
- Need to readapt historical spaces through contemporary design and creation;
- Need to develop new audiences;
- Need to create an Arts and Crafts Centre;
- Lack of the artists and craftsmen in residence programmes;
- Need to involve children and disadvantaged groups;
- Need to refocus theoretically on the Arts and Crafts Movement;
- Lack of appreciation of the value of heritage sites in artistic areas and creation.
In order to positively influence these needs, a very diverse range of target groups and beneficiaries were identified, covering a wide spectrum of society.
This included organisations and institutions, governmental departments, specialist career groups, and individuals who could be affected directly and indirectly through the implementation of activities in helping the project develop and deliver its objectives. This also ensured that the project would impact different levels of society and would thereby contribute to the widest possible dissemination of the work.
Specifically, the target groups and beneficiaries identified were as follows:
- Artists, both in fine and performing arts from countries participating in the project;
- Young artists from Arts and Design Universities/Colleges;
- Young craftsmen and students engaged in environmental, architectural and artistic studies;
- Actors colleges and universities;
- International audiences and members of the public;
- Disadvantaged groups, particularly Roma populations in Romania;
- Schools in each of the partner countries;
- Professionals involved in heritage activities and in design, crafts, and fine arts.
Each of these was identified as capable of having a potential influence on the perception of the value of the historic environment as inspiration for contemporary creation, a major concept promoted through the project. Through such groups there was an opportunity to ensure trans-sectorial dialogue, to provide a forum and a practical opportunity to reconnect the artistic creation with the skills of the local population and its young generation. In all of this the catalyst and the common thread was the built and cultural heritage, as well as new ways of artistic expressions.
Activities and Delivery
Each of the partners had extensive experience in both their own country and internationally in the practice and delivery of actions related to cultural heritage. The combined experience gave the opportunity to deliver further to a very wide audience. Each Partner had its own specialisations (regional authority, international network, art association, museum, foundation), and by combining these, the project was able to deliver a wide range of actions across the cultural spectrum. Consequently, the range of types of activity delivered through the project was very diverse. The principal activities of delivery were as follows:
- Management, internal monitoring, and evaluation (see Appendix 1)
- The establishment of the Arts and Crafts Centre (see Appendix 2)
- Arts and Crafts Centre in action (see Appendix 3)
- International cultural cooperation (see Appendix 4)
- Dissemination, valorisation of the results (see Appendix 5)
The establishment of the Arts and Crafts Centre
The project was inspired by the historic location of Bánffy Castle, Bonţida, Romania. The Castle is renowned for its training in traditional building crafts skills run by the Transylvania Trust and is the recipient of the Europa Nostra Main Prize for Education, Training, and Awareness Raising. This project used the Castle’s history and the restoration work, which has been and will continue to be undertaken, as inspiration for cultural artistic development and direct interaction between art, crafts skills, architectural restoration, and theatre.
The establishment of the Arts and Crafts Centre (ACC) started with an international contest for the reinterpretation of the space hosting the Centre and selection of participants in all countries participating to the project. A “sample” restoration-conservation work done on building fragments was organised within a restoration camp led by professional craftsmen, and an ephemeral refurbishment of the interior and belonging outdoor spaces was implemented by artists to highlight the forgotten and almost lost values of the Castle. Once the artists and craftsmen were brought together, these two components worked as one in a complex process of joint work and interdisciplinary learning of traditional and contemporary ways for revitalising a historical monument. The ACC comprises two exhibition spaces, one multifunctional space, and 3 workshop spaces, both indoor and outdoor. The process was photo documented and presented trough exhibition panels. The traveling exhibition visited the partner countries, the network of Romanian Cultural Institutes in Europe, and the European Parliament, ensuring a wide-scale European dissemination of the project.
This activity required major involvement from all Partners. All of them contributed to the dissemination of the international contest, and in providing an exchange of knowledge and expertise. The 13 applicants of the contest came from Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Kosovo, Poland, Ireland, Serbia, Canada, and Romania, the participants for the restoration and creative workshop came from Greece, UK, Hungary, and Romania.
Arts and Crafts Centre in action
Once the ACC was created, a series of activities were organised here, as well as in the partner countries, with the aim of rediscovering local crafts, traditions, regional cultures and of contemporary creation. The types of activities were the following:
The inauguration of the newly established Centre was celebrated in Romania at Bánffy Castle, Bonțida, via two events. First, in June 2016, when the result of the international contest was officially announced to the large public and in September 2016, after finalising the set-up process. The first event involved all types of arts and crafts via demonstrations, performances, and activities for children, exhibitions. The second was focused on the metamorphosis of a historical place, by launching the Arts and Crafts Centre in the main building of the Castle, by an interactive theatre play. The Metamorphoses of Ovid was transformed into a modern interpretation by direct audience participation. Bánffy Castle is known internationally for the quality of its Baroque architecture and for its original statue gallery that once adorned the Cour d’Honneur. In its original form, the statue gallery depicted Ovid’s Metamorphoses. As with the Arts and Crafts Centre, the inspiration for this work came directly from the history and architecture of the Castle. Based on the performance a film was produced, which was part of the travelling exhibition, and was presented in all partner countries.
Artists and craftsmen in residence
The project partners launched a series of Artists and Craftsmen in Residence programmes for artists, craftsmen, artisans, and creators interested in and preoccupied by the reinterpretation of historical values through contemporary methods. The residence programmes ensured the temporal and spatial conditions for learning and creation in exceptional historical settings, as part of the international action of the Centre.
A total of 4 residencies were held as follows: in Romania at the Arts and Crafts Centre at Bánffy Castle, Bonțida, 2 residencies with different artistic concepts; 1 residency in Mirambel, Spain; and 1 in Câmpulung, Romania.
Workshops for Schoolchildren
The Spanish and the two Romanian Partners organised a number of Workshops for Schoolchildren in co-operation with local schools. This activity of the Arts and Crafts Centre targeted schoolchildren from different ethnic groups, primarily in the 8-12 age range, helping to raise their awareness and understanding of local heritage by involving them directly through interactive activities. The programme organised through this mechanism involved non-formal, extra-curricular activities developed in partnership with school teachers and was designed to engage children in activities through which they could learn about the values of arts and crafts skills in the building of communities, the social context of cultural heritage within their own environment, and to help them understand their wider responsibilities in terms of caring for their environment for the benefit of future generations.
A total of 12 Workshops for Schoolchildren were held: Romania 9; Spain 3
European Heritage Days
This activity organized in Câmpulung and Bonțida, Romania, respectively in Spain was a one-day large scale event for the general public. The heritage sites managed by the Co-organizers were opened to the public for cultural events such as debates, guided tours, and concerts, with the aim to promote the enjoyment and use of heritage assets to a very wide public and to specifically target different ethnic groups to encourage the joint enjoyment of this experience.
Celebrating Heritage. Open Day
Organised in April 2016 and 2017, the Open Days for celebrating heritage were held at Bánffy Castle, Bonțida, and at the Hungarian partner of the project, and included guided tours, demonstration of arts and crafts, and art exhibitions.
To enhance the networking capacities of the artists and cultural operators, a workshop was held in 2017 at ACCR, Paris, France, with the purpose of widening the audience for the works of artists and craftsmen following their creative activity sessions, during the previous period, and enlarging the perspective about the synergy between arts and heritage.
As part of the permanent activities of the Centre, the project launched an Arts Fair in 2017 for young artists, craftsmen, and designers to provide them the opportunity to meet other artists, identify supporters, and sell their works. The first day of the event included a conference (Crafts in the World of Arts as closing event of the project), and debates on the topic, arts and crafts installations, the exhibition of artworks resulted from the residency organised at Câmpulung, and a travelling exhibition.
International CULTURAL cooperation
The creative workshop for setting up the Arts and Crafts Centre was presented trough 13 panels in a travelling exhibition, facilitated by the Partners and by the Associated Partners of the project. This exhibition was launched – starting from December 2016 until September 2017 at the following locations: Teruel, Paris, Brussels – EP, Madrid, Budapest, Berlin, London, Câmpulung, Bonțida. At each exhibition opening the possibility for networking and capacity building of the project representatives was ensured. The exhibitions were also opened to the large public.
Dissemination, valorisation of results
This activity ensured the visibility of the project’ results, together with providing the involved artists and craftsmen the promotion required for continuing their works at European level. The promotional activity involved massive online presence for the duration of the project, the production and installation of posters at events’ locations, and distribution of leaflets during events. A special publication (a series of articles putting into perspective issues related to the terminology and relationship between arts and crafts in the partner countries, to heritage, innovation, and professional development in Europe), 2 catalogues and a brochure with a database of the artists and craftsmen, good practices and cultural centres involved in the project was produced by the Partners and distributed online and in 900 printed copies shared among the partners, the participants of the residencies and workshops, and among cultural institutions at national and international level.
An additional dissemination of results consisted of a wide presentation about the project at all events the partners attended during their other activities, as well as the support of the EU for this achievement.
The ACCR, Paris, France and the Transylvania Trust informed the general public about the activities of the project through an interactive blog. The project leader developed a mobile application for promoting all activities and works happening at the ACC Centre.
A number of press conferences were held with the occasion of the project’s major events, in each participating country. All partners used their extensive media connection for promoting the project at European, national, and local level.
Sponsor: European Union, Creative Europe Program