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Art Installation: Advocacy Tool for Youth Concerns


In today’s context of Palestine there is a lack of a strong forum that draws youth from different backgrounds together to identify their key issues, facilitates open dialogue and debate on their concerns, provides new mediums for expression since the rhetoric is occupied, and communicates and articulates the outcome to a wider youth gathering and community at large. The existing mechanisms and approaches employed for the youth sector are weak and ineffective. The youth are voiceless, and as there is no room for them for free expression, they feel frustrated and worthless. Such feelings have strong impact on their behavior, behavior that is translated into political and social actions as well.
As such, there is a need to propose a new and creative alternative so as to build such forum that would give voice to the youth. Art installation is a creative tool for free expression, by which the youth is empowered to articulate their concerns, to place their issues on the public agenda, and to create opportunities where the youth partake and are represented in the decision making process, a key element for democracy.
The International Center of Bethlehem’s Art Installation: Advocacy Tool for Youth Concerns Project which started on May 1, 2004 and shall be completed on June 30, 2005, which is funded by Tamkeen Civil Society and Democracy Strengthening Project, empowers young people to identify their concerns and prioritize their issues, to develop creative means of expressing and communicating them with other youth as well as a wider group of stakeholders, and to proactively present issues of concern of this biggest segment of the Palestinian society in the public discourse and agenda. This educational process is crucial for any attempt of democratization and governance. By working with the youth, especially the youth of the rural areas and refugee camps, the project targets an important yet neglected segment of the Palestinian society and at the same time potential future leaders. We introduce a new creative tool which is art installation that youth can utilize as other mediums have already been occupied by others, such as rhetoric, to create a strong network and forum that draws youth from different backgrounds together. With the help of trained art teachers, who received their unique training through the project, as it is necessary to provide equipped team who is qualified to facilitate discussion among youth on issues of their concern, and to assist them in developing artistic expressions of the identified issues, the youth engage in open dialogue and debate, and are able to present their findings eloquently and creatively. Through this project, the youth are no longer voiceless, but are expressing themselves vividly and creatively, working towards their interests be more represented in the Palestinian public discourse. By implementing the planned activities, the grant objectives and the project at large shall be accomplished successfully.
The Project’s Objectives:
a) To assist the youth within the Bethlehem Governorate to identify and prioritize their key issues by selecting 150 young people from 10 schools to be trained in art installation as a tool of free expression. The training will consist of 12 workshops/40 hours training conducted in each school.

b) To train and develop the skills of 10 art teachers working in the selected schools to become familiar with the medium of installation art through an intensive 5-day workshop (30 hours) facilitated by an international expert in the field of art installation.

c) To train the 150 youth on how to communicate their concerns and the issues deemed significant to the public and how to inform their own community of their issues through organizing 10 art exhibitions and 10 public debates at their respective schools after their training.

d) To create a viable network among the different youth groups through having youth of the other participating schools present at each of these exhibitions, thus sharing and exchanging concerns and experiences.

e) To facilitate the presenting of the youth’s issues that were identified to decision makers representing government officials, local government officials and leaders of civil society organizations through a one-month exhibition hosted at the Cave Gallery at the ICB combining all the diverse artistic expressions and pieces developed by the youth at the different schools and 1 public debate with decision makers at Ad-Dar Cultural and Conference Center.

f) To promote the issues on a wider scale by documenting the whole process of the project from its inception to its completion for future use in a 10-12 minute film and a booklet published containing all the art pieces that were made.
This project is supported by Tamkeen’s simplified grants. The purpose of Tamkeen’s simplified grants at large is to support initiatives and activities that strengthen the democracy and governance capabilities of civil society organizations in the West Bank and Gaza. In accordance with this purpose, the ICB’s project of the art installation incorporates through its objective and activities elements of democracy and governance by focusing on building the capacities of the youth, developing their leadership abilities and giving them the opportunities to express themselves freely, creatively and effectively so as to be represented in the Palestinian public discourse. The target group of this project, namely the youth, matches one of the main target groups of Tamkeen’s. Youth in Palestine are the largest segment of the Palestinian population but they are marginalized and their interests are the least represented. In particular, the project focuses on one of the most marginalized groups of the Palestinian society, the youth of the rural areas and refugee camps. Utilizing the practical forum of schools is the most effective as it draws youth from different backgrounds and contexts, and promises continuity of the process. The 10 participating schools have been carefully identified and selected, insuring a balanced representation of schools from the rural areas, refugee camps and cities within the Bethlehem Governorate.
Direct Beneficiaries:

The first direct beneficiary is the 150 students of Grades 9-11 (ages 15 – 17) from 10 schools in the Bethlehem Governorate. As mentioned previously, the schools have been carefully selected to encompass as wide of a representation as possible in terms of population distribution, but with an emphasis on schools in rural areas and refugee camps, since the youth there are the most marginalized in the society. The 150 students will benefit through getting the opportunity to be trained in art installation in their respective schools, exhibiting their work, directly expressing their concerns and issues through new creative means, and networking with the other youth of the other schools.

The second direct beneficiary is the student population of the 10 schools combined, approximately 5000 students. They shall benefit by engaging in the discussions and public debates that are planned in their own respective schools on issues relevant to them as youth, thus actively sharing in presenting a youth agenda.

The third direct beneficiary are the 10 art teachers who were trained in a new medium of art, that of installation, thus receiving further education in a new creative field and utilizing this training for future initiatives and programs within and outside of their respective schools.

Indirect Beneficiaries

One indirect beneficiary is the Palestinian youth in the Bethlehem Governorate, who shall attend the 10 exhibitions and 10 public debates that shall take place at the different localities at the selected schools, as well as the one-month exhibition and the public debate that will take place at the ICB.

The Palestinian youth at large will also benefit from this project as their concerns and issues will be presented to a wider and now more informed and sensitive public, as well as having documentation of these issues through the film that can have future screenings if demanded by other schools and organizations, both private and public and the published booklet.

The Art Installation: Advocacy Tool for Youth Concerns Project’s Activities:

Training & Capacity Building:
• 150 youth from 10 schools within the Bethlehem Governorate will be involved in training workshops using art installation and brainstorming discussions aimed at enhancing their capacity to identify, prioritize, communicate and promote their key issues. The training shall be carried out in each participating school. The training performed in schools, thus introducing a creative tool of expression to the sector of education, empowers the youth to become proactive to partake in the decision making process that affects their future, especially as they are the largest segment of the Palestinian society. As such the grant contributes through this training and educational process to the strengthening of civil society and democracy.

• 150 youth shall be trained in installing art exhibitions, through preparing for the 10 exhibitions that shall be held in the schools, one exhibition per school per week in a consecutive manner, and preparing for the one-month exhibition at the Cave Gallery at the ICB.

• 150 youth shall have the opportunity to develop and improve their public speech skills as they will be involved in explaining about their art pieces during the one-week exhibitions and the one-month exhibition held at the ICB; as well as during the public debates to be organized as closing events of each exhibition that will be held at the participating schools.

• 10 art teachers will be trained in the field of art installation with an international expert, thus building a cadre of experts in the field who would facilitate and continue with such activities that allow for free expression and open debate, networking and public participation, even after the period of the project has ended.

Soliciting Constituent Opinion:
• The training workshops for the 150 young people shall also work as a structured forum where the opinions of the youth are sought and expressed.

• 11 Public Debates will allow for the solicitation of opinions on the issues presented, especially from youth within and surrounding each school who did not get the opportunity to participate in the project, and providing the forum where the constituents meet with the decision makers, both in their own localities but also on the national level thus allowing for advocacy activities targeting decision makers to take place and recommendations to be adopted that places the youth agenda on the national agenda.

• A network of 150 youth who participated in the project is an important body that allows for deepening the association with the youth agenda being presented through the students’ artistic expressions, and also allows for open dialogue and exchange of ideas.

Disseminating Information:
• 11 art exhibitions, 10 of which are held at the selected schools in a consecutive manner for 10 weeks, and 1 held at the Cave Gallery at the ICB for one month.

• 11 public debates which will also be a sharing information forum for the local communities surrounding each school, and on the national level at large.

• A 10-12 minutes’ film documenting the process to be screened in the future to other schools and interested parties.

• 500 copies of a booklet containing colored photographs of the artistic expressions of the students to be distributed to schools, international donors, libraries, Ministry of Sports and Youth, local government offices, and so forth.

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