The art of peace: Interrogating community devised arts based peacebuilding

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Social Sciences

Abstract

"I fear we [peacebuilders] see ourselves to be - and have therefore become - more technicians than artists. By virtue of this shift of perception our approaches have become too cookie-cutter-like, too reliant on what proper technique suggests as a frame of reference, and as a result our processes are too rigid and fragile." J.P. Lederach, Peace Scholar.
International interventions aimed at building peace in conflict and post-conflict societies have a rather negative track-record in achieving their objectives. One of the main explanations for this is the apparent inability of international actors to reach out and connect with local communities and leaders who are key in transforming societies and enabling a lasting peace.
In recent years, arts based approaches to peacebuilding have gained traction as an emerging area of research and practice typified by the work of Cynthia Cohen at Brandeis University and programmes delivered by NGOs Search for Common Ground and In Place of War and countless community projects. Despite these advances, arts based approaches to peacebuilding as an area of study and practice remains under researched. In particular, there is a deficit in understanding the impact community devised and led arts projects can have on peace formation at various stages of conflict amongst diverse actors. Thus, this project investigates the potential of grassroots led and devised arts projects in undertaking a key role in how peace emerges within a country and stresses the agency of local people to change their society. We aim to determine how arts can positively contribute to peace; this project builds a community of practice between academics, artists, practitioners and policy-actors to explore the transformative power of the creative arts in the context of conflict and peace. Creating an evidence-base around the impact of arts can shape new policies and NGO programming to improve the life of people in conflict-affected societies.
To this end, we will develop a methodology to assess the impact of arts-based peace projects and their legacies. The project's starting point is the simple notion that the nexus of aesthetic, cultural, and social engagement can be powerful and offers an 'undercommons' upon which to build peace. The project distinguishes between contexts of 'war', 'diffuse war', 'transitions from war to peace' and 'post-war' contexts to investigate the role that performative arts can play in each of these conflict stages. We will rely on the case studies of Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Colombia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to analyse the complex interplay of the arts and war.
Comparing and contrasting these case studies in terms of where the arts are situated, who runs the arts projects and how they work best as a partner of peace formation, the project asks:
1. What role can grassroots arts play in different types and stages of war?
2. Based on these insights, under what conditions can the creative arts and peace formation processes be best integrated with each other?
3. How can we understand the extent to which creative arts projects help external or internal norms of peace to be adopted on a broader social level, or do they highlight local norms?
The project will be run by the University of Manchester, Durham University, and In Place of War with the support of several local researchers and artists, combining insights from the field of academia with local arts practitioners on the ground. Project leads will form a partnership with local organisations and actors in each of the case countries to conduct the research and devise a toolkit for grassroots and NGO practitioners on the one hand, but also to co-produce art productions on the other. The latter include exhibitions, an audio archive, community performances and web-based content, all of which will be accessible to the communities in the countries themselves as well as to UK audiences.

Planned Impact

Impact Summary:

This research aims to add to knowledge about how arts projects can support peacebuilding efforts. Given the limited existing research on community arts-based peacebuilding projects, it is anticipated that our findings will provide a framework to enhance policy and practice. This knowledge will be made available to academic audiences so they can integrate it into further research and teaching, and in the accompaniment and advice they provide to policy and programming. It will also be used in direct advocacy and advice to policy and programming in the case countries and more broadly. Finally, the research will inform the development of practical tools for grassroots/NGO organisations so they can better measure and articulate the impact of their work. We propose that the possibility of achieving these objectives outlined in the impact summary rests on three pillars:

- Involving local grassroots stakeholders in the research provides an opportunity for analysis, reflection and learning through our participatory research approach;
- Bringing together coalitions of different stakeholders and organisations working for change at the local level;
- Evidence-based recommendations on policy and programme implementation to internationally supported arts programmes.

The project will therefore be of particular benefit to:
- Artists, civil society and local or national authorities in each case study country. These groups will benefit from new insights into peacebuilding from their own country and practice in other countries and the development of new tools to understanding arts based peacebuilding. Furthermore, these actors will also be given a platform to share their practice and artistic work to a wide international audience.
- NGOs and community groups engaged in arts-based peacebuilding projects, who will be able to use our findings to better understand the nexus between arts with a view to incorporating and implementing arts programmes in their peacebuilding work. Moreover, the project allows them to learn and interact with a wide network of stakeholders from the peacebuilding sector from diverse international settings. Finally, the development of new tools to measure and articulate the impact of the work will improve their practice.
- Policymakers in the UK, and internationally, who are keen to improve their understanding of the contribution of the arts to social change and to address issues of conflict in the UK and abroad. These include Government departments such as the Home Office, the British Council, Ministry of Justice, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Stabilization Unit, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development.
Public audiences interested in narratives of art and conflict will be given the opportunity to explore the dynamics of conflict, peace and artistic expression from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and discover new artistic work from these places.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title 360 degree tour - Abrasevic 
Description Abrasevic is an peace building organization that works with an open network of NGOs and other groups to foster social transformation and cohesion through the arts. They host a variety of community and cultural events such as concerts, theatre, and art exhibits, in addition to directing multiple interventions and educational experiences designed to address and overcome deep religious, political and ethnic divisions. The Living Museum content is a 360 tour of their OKC Youth Cultural Centre, which hosts many of their cultural activities & workshops, located in the heart of Mostar, dividing line and "No-man's land" between Croat and Bosnian Muslim communities. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title 360 degree tour - ConArte Mexico, Mexico 
Description ConArte manages educational and cultural activities that use the arts to promote a culture of peace, resilience, and inclusivity in communities throughout Mexico and beyond. Working in collaboration with public schools, cultural centres, and community spaces, ConArte leads numerous classes and workshops in music, dance, theatre, and the visual arts, with a particular emphasis on exploring local and indigenous contemporary expressions. The Living Museum content is a 360 tour of their Cultural Space, which hosts many of their cultural activities & workshops. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title 360 degree tour - Culturizzarte, Medellín, Colombia 
Description Culturizzarte directs artistic workshops and training for the young people of Comuna 13 to guide them away from negative influences and onto a path in the nascent creative economy. They also produce and host a vibrant mix of cultural programming including live theatre, concerts, and art auctions. The content for the Living Museum is a 360 tour of their space in Comuna 13, which hosts the bulk of their cultural events and workshops, including accompanying links throughout the tour that provide more detail and geographic context. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title 360 degree tour - ECMA, DRC 
Description The spirit of kwetu takes living form in the vibrant halls of ECKA, a community and cultural centre located in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. ECKA directs a lively mix of cultural programming designed to celebrate cultural patrimony while addressing some of the obstacles that limit social progress in this challenged community. The cultural space hosts live music, art exhibitions, theatre, cinema and comedy shows, all highlighting local artists who otherwise lack platforms to display their work. Providing this platform is one of ECKA's key objectives, as it helps promote a new creative economy to help address the region's high unemployment rate. The Living Museum content is a 360 tour of their La Nana Cultural Space where they hosts many of their cultural activities & workshops. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title 360 degree tour - Goma Slam Session, DRC 
Description Located in eastern DR Congo near the border with Rwanda, residents of Goma have dealt with near-constant war, political unrest, and refugee crises dating back to the mid-90s. Operating out of their own cultural space, the Goma Slam Session collective runs various monthly events that showcase local slam poetry practitioners for an enthusiastic audience that is increasingly hungry for independent thought and vibrant creative expression. Thanks to these efforts, long festering social and political themes are finally being discussed out in the open, an important step toward community healing and progress. The Living Museum content is a 360 tour of their Cultural Space, which hosts many of their cultural activities & workshops. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title 360 degree tour - Laban Theatre, Lebanon 
Description Beirut's Laban is an organization that uses improv and the dramatic arts as tools to foster peace and community in a region that struggles with ongoing social, political, and religious divisions. The Living Museum content is a 360 tour through the theatre space. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title 360 degree tour - Utopia for Social Justice, Lebanon 
Description This Tripoli-based non-profit organization reduces the tensions of ongoing war and border conflicts through community service, advocacy, and empowerment of vulnerable groups such as women and children. They manage a multitude of workshops, seminars, environmental projects and community interventions, and they've done so while relying solely on volunteer work and external fundraising. The content for Living Museum is a 360 tour navigating through the Abjad Center, located in Bab El Tabbaneh in the heart of a major Syrian/Lebanese conflict zone. This social and community centre hosts many of Utopia's workshops and activities, and is actually part of their headquarters in Tripoli. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title 360 degree tour, 100% San Agustin, Caracas, Venezuela 
Description For decades, the San Agustín neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela was a major source of fear due to local gang warfare. Since 2016 100% San Agustín have been running a hand-curated experience known as Cumbe Tours to change the image of their neighbourhood. The tour is set to an immersive musical soundtrack; this neighborhood is famous throughout Venezuela as a musical mecca, and rhythms bounce through the streets from all corners. The content for the living museum is a 360 virtual tour through a section of their Cumbe Tours with interactive icons that provide more info on cultural, food, music, dance etc. Tour will include: music/dance workshop, food stand, Club Alegres All-Stars and open-air cultural space. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title 360 degree tour, Cell Foundation, India 
Description The Cell Foundation also manages a learning centre to help community artists adapt and survive in a changing economic landscape. The colony is a vibrant social community of master puppeteers, musicians, dancers and artisans of all sorts. A government redevelopment plan that launched in 2010 has effectively seized the land on which this community has thrived for over 50 years. Inhabitants of Kathputli were forcefully evicted and sent to a temporary camp on the outskirts of town, with a promise that new housing and community spaces would soon be provided. Thirteen years later, they have yet to deliver. The Living Museum content is a 360 tour navigating through a section of the Kathputli Colony. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title Enhancing 360 degree tour - Casa Kolacho, Medellin, Colombia 
Description Situated in the Comuna 13 neighborhood on the western edge of the city, Casa Kolacho is a non-profit artpeace building organization that offers a variety of workshops for local youth in addition to directing some of the most electric cultural programming found anywhere in the city. To fund these classes, Casa Kolacho offers their wildly popular Graffitour to travelers and locals alike. This guided stroll through the colorful streets of Comuna 13 showcases a magnificent urban gallery of street art, straight from the hands of local artists. Once viewed as vandalism, these public works are now a source of tremendous community pride. Casa Kolacho already have a very good 360 tour, which they will enhance with more information and interactive content. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title Mini documentary - Crazy Dance, Medellín, Colombia 
Description Crazy Dance is famed locally for their exhilarating live performances, but also as an alternative to violence through recreation and artistic expression. They offer dance, physical training, and life skills workshops to prevent local kids and young adults from falling into dangerous lifestyle traps. The Living Museum content is a 4-6 minute video using clips and footage of Old Guns projects and community interventions, including narration where appropriate. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title Mini documentary - Lluvia de Orion, Medellín, Colombia 
Description Lluvia de Orión is a non-profit organization that channels the power of memory to help people underlying the causes of violence, developing tools and education that will help prevent it from ever happening again. The Living Museum content is a mini documentary that summarizes the peacebuilding work Lluvia de Orion does via clips and testimonials. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title Mini documentary - Old Guns, Medellín, Colombia 
Description Hip hop collective Old Guns rose from the famed narrow alleys of notorious Medellín's Comuna 13 in 2016. More than just a musical group, they use the power of art to pull young kids away from dangerous options and inspire them to participate in a burgeoning creative economy. Old Guns offers music production workshops, an obvious draw for local kids in an area that lives and breathes hip hop. They also provide training in photography and video production; further, most rappers in the collective are also barbers, mechanics, and carpenters who share their experience and training through real-world vocational workshops. The Living Museum content is a mini documentary including clips and footage of Old Guns projects and community interventions, including narration and first-person testimonials. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title Mini documentary - People's Palace Places, Brazil 
Description After numerous collaborations with Brazil's local citizens and cultural organizations, PPP launched an international research project called Building The Barricades in 2018. This multidisciplinary study investigated the impact of ongoing urban violence on the mental health of people living in Complexo da Maré, the largest favela in Rio de Janeiro. The content for the Living Museum is a mini documentary that mainly follows a young artist from the favela who has worked with PPP on an artistic project. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Title Sound Archive of Mostar 
Description The Sound Archive of Mostar, which is available to the public. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact N/a 
URL https://soundcloud.com/ronniee
 
Title The Art of Peace: Medellin 
Description Life is hard in the Colombia city of Medellin's barrios. Joblessness, poverty and the constant pressure to join or defy the trigger-happy drug gangs make the toughest corner of one of the world's toughest cities a challenging place to elbow your way into adulthood. The Art of Peace is an In Place of War and University of Manchester film that explores how hope, rhythm and tenacity are empowering artists and musicians to resist the violence of the city and reimagine the future. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact Premiered at the In Place of War Art of Peace Summit in 2020. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alTtAp9uIAQ
 
Title Video montage, Mau Mau Arts, Kenya 
Description Mau Mau is both a functional network and production hub that is helping build a robust creative economy for artists in Kenya and across the African continent. Mau Mau's workshops and master classes are conducted by experienced professionals within the network's circle of visual arts, independent publication, music and film production practitioners. So far, more than 150 Kenyans have honed their artistic skills through these courses. The content for the living museum is a 4-6 minute video montage of completed MMA work using existing footage from key MMA projects with selected narration where appropriate. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact tbc 
 
Description The development of a new concept of artpeace, helping us to understand the potential and limitations of creative agency in peacemaking.
Exploitation Route The development of artpeace strategies as part of a peace processes.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Security and Diplomacy

 
Description A range of creative developments connected to peacebuilding have begun to emerge. See outputs.
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Art of Peace Summit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact The Art of Peace change-maker summit was a series of online events taking place across November connecting 30 young people from Manchester to In Place of War's network of change makers from across the globe. The young people helped curate and lead parts of the programme as well as attending all sessions to learn/share skills, experiences and insights. Parts of the summit were recorded and streamed to In Place of War and festival platforms (Sim Sao Paulo) to reach a global audience.

AIMS
To create a new connected network of social activists from the Global South and Manchester communities.
To provide a space for general knowledge exchange and sharing of insights into contexts and methodologies.
Provide workshops on arts based social activism.
To share artistic responses to the COVID crisis from local and global contexts.
To host debates and discussions on the role of the arts as a pathway for community mobilisation and locally driven social change
To share some of the tools being used resolve community challenges in times of COVID from across the globe.
To tackle other issues that have arisen during the pandemic for example mental health issues / domestic abuse.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.youtube.com/c/InPlaceofWar/videos
 
Description Art of Peace event South Africa, with case study partners and wider network members 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact The proposed event sought to achieve one of the planned activities to deliver an in-person event with participants from the Art of Peace (AOP) research project which, due to Covid-19, had not been possible. The trip involved visiting two of In Place of War's most significant projects of recent years, Trackside Creative in Soweto and the Rise Above Development (RAD) Urban Youth Oasis development in Lavender Hill, Cape Town. The first part of the trip takes place in Soweto/Johannesburg with a focus on the delivery of the AOP workshops, and the second part of the trip will involve the AOP participants and members of IPOW'S Global Music Advisory Board visiting the RAD Urban Youth Oasis development in Cape Town, in the context of the ArtPeace research. They took part in cultural activities devised by the community as well as a fundraising event.

Aim:
The AOP workshop and event aimed to generate new reflections on the research framework that has been developed, drawing on the perspectives of arts practitioners. Equally, the presentation of the Living Museum material created by participants aought to provoke discussions on how they may align with the ArtPeace Framework. The final workshop explored ideas for a new research bid potentially building on the themes of:

arts and digital networks for curation, translation, inclusion/exclusion and audience engagement.
arts and youth participation in peacebuilding
creating practical and theoretical solutions for blockages identified in AOP and/or strengthening enablers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Mitchell Institute, at Queen's University, Belfast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Teresa O Bradaigh Bean (RA on the project) will be discussing the research findings from the Art of Peace project with Masters students at the Mitchell Institute, at Queen's University, Belfast. She will also present the theoretical framework drawing on her field work for the case study on hip hop in Medellín. She will be joined by Farah Wardani of Laban Theatre company who participated in the field research and living museum digital project as one of the non academic on the project. Farah will give an overview of her work in social theatre and illustrate how it contributes to everyday peace building in Lebanon. The session will conclude with a. Q&A with the students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Podcast: Visualising War The Art of Peace with Teresa Ó Brádaigh Bean, Lydia Cole and Azadeh Sobout 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact In this week's episode, Alice interviews three researchers - Teresa Ó Brádaigh Bean, Lydia Cole, and Azadeh Sobout - who are involved in the Art of Peace project based at the Universities of Manchester and Durham. Led by Oliver Richmond, Stephanie Kappler, and Birte Vogel, this project explores arts-based approaches to peace-making and the role that grassroots-led art projects can play in helping communities process and recover from conflict.

On the podcast, we discussed the many different roles that different forms of artistic practice can play in post-conflict communities, from bringing people together and building bridges between past and present to rights-based activism and peaceful revolution. Lydia, Azadeh and Teresa were all keen to stress that participatory arts programmes can help people 'build better futures', not just process past experiences. Along the way, we discussed the false binary between war and peace that often distorts and simplifies how we visualise both. We talked about the limitations of top-down, colonial-style peace-making initiatives, and the merits of grassroots peace-building from below and attention to micropolitics. We also looked at lots of different examples of 'artivism' - art that embodies and enables activism. Our conversation got us thinking about entrenched habits of visualising 'peace' and the role that different art forms can play in re-visualising both peace and conflict and in visualising new/different/better futures.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://visualisingwar.buzzsprout.com/1717787/9753664
 
Description Production of an archive around music from Myanmar 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In 2022, In Place of War and The Art of Peace project partnered with Gitameit Music Institute, a non-profit community centre and music school based in Yangon, Myanmar devoted to music teaching, nurturing and performing. In collaboration with Juan Chao from Archivo de Musica Original, we delivered a 3-part workshop - Developing a Music Archive - consisting of practical tasks and exploring the purpose and importance of archiving music, reflecting the history of Burmese people and their culture through music.



Module 1 - Recording

Gear to use

What to record

Keeping recordings safe



Module 2 - Making the Archive

Record > Send > Upload

Aesthetics and criteria



Module 3 - The webpage

Labelling & description

Aesthetics

Licenses

Based in different regions across Myanmar, 7 musicians from Gitameit took part and discussed different methods of recording, licensing and how they can build and develop their own personal archives. Each participant was set the task of recording their own piece of music to share with the group. The music they recorded form the foundations of the 'Myanmar Music Archive', a webpage currently in development containing audio and video recordings of both traditional and modern music from Myanmar, translated into both English and Burmese: www.archivodemusicaoriginal.com/myanmar

Through the challenging times that Myanmar has faced over the past few years and the current constraints in place, the workshops provided a space to share a mutual passion for composing and performing and to share stories about both modern and traditional instruments and influential musicians from Myanmar. The development of the archive serves as a platform for the protection and promotion of intangible cultural heritage.

Some of the participants will talk about their experiences of archiving during the workshops in South Africa and contribute to discussions on theoretical framework in particular focusing on curation, international networks and messaging.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Teresa Bean on BBC Radio 3 Programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact New Thinking: Research in Film Award Winners 2021, BBC Radio 3 programme. Migration, autism, young Colombians escaping violence, Yorkshire farming and children born of war in Uganda are the topics highlighted in the winners of this year's AHRC Researcher in Film Awards. Naomi Paxton looks at the winning entries.

The Best Research Film of the Year was won by Birte Vogel for The Art of Peace, Medellín - a documentary exploring the impact of community-led arts initiatives that work with marginalised youth, and particularly young men, in Colombia who are at risk of becoming involved in ongoing violent conflict. Joining Naomi to talk about the film is Teresa Ó Brádaigh Bean, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester and part of The Art of Peace project team.
https://sites.manchester.ac.uk/the-art-of-peace/home/about/research/

This New Thinking episode of the Arts and Ideas podcast was made in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, part of UKRI
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0b8tfhp
 
Description University of Oxford Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A lecture at University of Oxford delivered by Ruth Daniel (In Place of War) and Teresa Bean (Art of Peace RA) about the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020