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Using art as an inspiration, but also as an action to initiate social change has enormous potential. Recognizing this fact, participants at the training had the opportunity to become acquainted primarily with theoretical backgrounds, but also with specific options for conducting artistic activism actions that could potentially cause changes in the perception of health professionals, and beyond, to cause changes in the society, and contribute to reducing the negative narrative about Roma.

The Foundation Open Society – Macedonia in partnership with the IDEA Southeast Europe Foundation and the Open Society Foundations Thematic Public Health Program organized training on “Creative Activism for Changing Narratives for Roma in Health Care Institutions”. The training was held from 12 to 14 November 2018 in Ohrid and was attended by representatives of 12 CSOs as well as interested individuals.

Civic activists, through practical examples, were introduced to the possibility of using art to communicate with the public. Art and artistic actions were viewed as a tool that would provide a fun and unusual model of messaging in order to foster a change in citizens’ awareness of diversity in society and their acceptance by individuals and groups in society.

Within the training, participants first defined negative narratives about Roma and other marginalized communities in health care institutions. Through individual and group work, they presented the problems they face in exercising their right to health, health care and access to quality health services. In addition, through hands-on work, participants developed public communication plans that defined broader and narrower target groups to which they addressed and sent messages, included campaign planning and implementation as well as defining key messages according to target groups. The plans also included opportunities for using creative and artistic activities that would influence the changing narratives of Roma and other marginalized communities in health care institutions. At the same time, they were trained for making and publicizing the stencil as a form of artistic, creative and visual message, the use of graffiti and public drawing as part of urban and contemporary street art. As final activity of the training, the participants, in groups, prepared draft projects with an action plan aimed at changing the narratives of Roma and other marginalized groups in health care institutions.