The Center for Contemporary Arts – Skopje and the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia organized the conference “Time to reset: Redefining the power of communities through creative activism and engaged art” on September 30 and October 1, 2022, in the venue Public Room, Skopje. Famous theorists, engaged artists, activists and representatives of organizations from Africa, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, the USA, North Macedonia, Serbia and the Netherlands were participating in the conference.
The conference was dedicated to the exchange of experiences in order to devise new approaches for those who advocate social change and take it to the next level. The event aimed to capitalize on the experiences and lessons learned by leading theorists, engaged artists, activists and organizations promoting similar or complementary initiatives. The participants analyzed lessons learned and discussed upcoming challenges and opportunities, particularly focused on the potential to multiply the effects of this type of engagement and increase impact in communities.
Adriana Lavčiska opened the conference, stressing that creative activism and engaged art in the past years aimed to mobilize citizens to advocate for the issues that bother them, and in that way, they recorded numerous successes. In addition to presenting the strategy and engagement of FOSM and partner organizations on this plan, she also presented the benefits and results of the three-year project “Regional creative cores: harnessing the power of art and culture to encourage citizen action against corruption”.
At the opening of the conference on September 30, the books “CREATING CHANGE: Considering creative approaches for action against corruption in West Africa and the Western Balkans” and “Artistic/creative activism in Macedonia: Reclaiming public space through civic engagement 2006-2020” were promoted. Alexandra Bubevska, journalist and one of the authors of the publication that maps the Macedonian experience with artistic and creative activism, presented the contents of the publications and referred to the significance of this type of publications and projects. Ana Akjimov, a journalist and activist from Serbia and Nikola Pisarev, an activist from Macedonia, shared their own experiences and challenges with methodologies and tools for creative activism. The documentary film “CreaACT: Creative approaches in the fight against corruption in the Western Balkans and in West Africa”, prepared within the framework of the initiative of FOO “Regional Creative Cores” was promoted by Slavica Indjevska, who emphasized the importance of documenting these and similar experiences and emphasizing the importance of finding innovative and creative approaches to engaging communities and the necessity of supporting those efforts. Watch the short version or the full documentary.
On October 1, 2022, three panel discussions took place. The first panel discussion “Catch 22 with a view towards the future (part I)” was moderated by Artan Sadiku, a philosopher and activist from North Macedonia, and Iskra Gešoska from North Macedonia, Andrea Linenkol from Germany, Stefan Duncom from the USA, Karen van den Berg from Germany and Vladimir Jančevski from North Macedonia shared their theoretical views, dilemmas and open questions. In addition, the second panel discussion was dedicated to the practical experiences of using creative activism for advocacy to solve community problems. Speakers Edisa Demikj from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Saša Stoiljkovikj from Serbia, Denis Ampev from North Macedonia, Sambou Oumi Regina from Senegal, Prince Andrew Ardafio from Ghana and Cheik Sene from Senegal spoke about what motivated them to use creative activism and what are the challenges they face in their struggle for the democratization of societies in the communities where they operate. The discussion was moderated by Beth Dunlap from the USA. The final panel discussion, moderated by Lauren Agosta from the US, titled “We’ve Got a Chance!” From raising awareness to social mobilization through the prism of donors” aimed to emphasize the need and consider the possibilities of influence among the donor community for continuous and adequate support of new innovative and creative strategies of artistic and activist engagement. The following contributed to the interesting and fruitful discussion: Hawa Ba from Senegal, Bertan Selim from the Netherlands and Albert Hani from Albania. A special focus in the discussion was donor models that lead to the sustainability of creative activism and socially engaged art, the differences in donor approaches, as well as the effectiveness of these tools for advocating for change and mobilizing citizens.
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