Study-visits for building the network of Аrea of inspiration
Eastern European and post-soviet countries have specific problems in rural development closely linked with geographical extent of their territories where many villages and regions lie too far away from major cities and cultural centres. After the fall of socialism, not only political and economic system collapsed, but also culture has been highly affected. People started to lose their cultural traditions and became quite indifferent to their local natural and cultural heritage. The low level of cultural development in rural areas has contributed to significant marginalisation of communities and disharmonies in human-nature relations.
In order to improve the situation and bring new impulses to socio-cultural life in villages Machaon International and its partners initiated the project Areas of Inspiration. On 2017 project was supported from the Creative Europe programme of the EU Commission, and among the project purposes were the improvement of capacity of project partners and beneficiaries, development of cooperation network ‘Areas of Inspiration’ and joining existent network of art-residencies, sharing project experience and promotion of cultural exchanges between the EU and third countries (Ukraine, Russia) in the wider political context.
Area of inspiration – a village located in an attractive natural and authentic rural landscape which serves as a magnet for creative people to live or just come to participate in a vast array of art and cultural events unlocking its potential for creativity, cultural diversity, social inclusion, fruitful and inspiring life for its permanent residents.
A key aspect of project Areas of Inspiration was to learn from each other, support each other, to share experiences by participation in art events by other partners. Each partner organised own art-event and other partners had possibilities to take part and share experience, and explored an innovative approach of art-event organisation of each partner, know-how and strong sites.
Using co-financing sources, Machaon International organised low-cost travels aimed to establishment cooperation with other art-residencies and national parks involved to art-projects in order to study creative models of rural development, art-residencies, festivals, etc. These study-visits were highly appreciated by Slovak, Czech and Ukrainian participants, because we visited remote, but very successful national parks.
Sumava and Bawarian forest national parks are called together «Grean heart of Europe» and save large forest area. Both parks not only takes care of nature conservation and recreation, but become not only a favorite destination for nature lovers, but also a cultural centers. Art events have become a tradition here, too. Wooden sculptures dotting the area attract particular attention as artists try to convey to the viewer a wide variety of ideas that are relevant in the modern world. Visitors (especially children) who come here really like this combination of nature and art. On June, 2018 artists – participant of post-symposium study-tour and on February, 2019 Ukrainian partners got an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful landscapes, at the same they can marvel at the art works harmoniously integrated into the landscape and inextricably linked with it, and finally understood what art is a powerful tool in the development of effective environmental education and nature conservation.
On May, 2018 project partners visited Hungarian national parks Aggtelek and Hortobagy. Both parks have UNESCO statute World Heritage Site, and very famous by innovative and creative approaches for rural tourism, farming and food processing based on pasture traditions in villages of Hungary and using of World Heritage statute. Main topics covered by the study tour were exploration of one of the most successful examples of rural tourism developed, creative approaches for marketing and promotion of the region at international and domestic tourism market, private accommodation and services for tourists based on cultural traditions, community-based cultural events and landscape improvement at the village level and programmes of support for local products such as handicrafts, local gastronomy, etc. Participants visited famous Herdsmen Festival which aimed to support pasture traditions and involve young people.
In addition, two study-visits were arranged in October, 2017 and 2018 to Austria and Slov enia to national parks Gesause, Kalkalpen, Neusiedler am see and Triglav active in innovative and creative approaches for rural development with involvement of artists, musicians and creative people. These parks thanks to such unusual creative activities get the opportunity to build an inexpensive and unique exhibition or an interesting tourist site, often attracting visitors to the least visited and quite isolated areas. At the same time, they improve the social climate in the oft depressed villages around them by altering the social structure and attracting intellectuals to come.
In addition, visit of projects partners to Kenozero national park (Russia, Arkhangelsk region) was organised in July, 2018. Interesting to know, that idea of Area of Inspiration project was born in Kenozero national park in 2010, when first cooperating project of Kenozero NP and Machaon International was awarded by EU Commission as the best project in the sphere of culture. Participants of study-tour visited several land-art expositions created in the framework of the EU supported project “KenArt – European cultural bridge” and participated in the seminar.
The activities like the study tours and sharing project experience in conferences strengthened the collaboration and promoted the common European cultural identity, and showed to colleagues from Eastern countries and Ukraine new approaches.
Posted by: Svetlana Belova, February, 21, 2019