Understanding Strategies of Art for Reconciliation

The second Exchange Forum for the Art for Reconciliation project exploring the affordances of artistic strategies for peacebuilding. Wednesday 15 September from 2 pm. Including information on the event and extracts from the opening roundtable.

=== This opening Roundtable Discussion, chaired by David Grant, Queen's University Belfast explores key findings from Phase 1 of the research with artists, partispants and funders. Full length video of this session and Breakout and Closing sessions available on our Resource pages

About this Event

Artists working in societies emerging from violence have produced work that reflects, represents and responds to the conditions of conflict in ways that encourage the development of peace. However, this work is funded and evaluated using methods that fail to capture adequately the complex and long-term contribution of the arts to reconciliation.

The Art for Reconciliation research project has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by a team from the University of Liverpool, Queen's University Belfast, and Ulster University. It explores how we can more effectively apprehend the distinctive strategies of art for reconciliation (AfR) and thereby better support its development.

=== 15th September 2020

The conference will take place over Zoom, from 2pm - 7 pm. Register by following this link

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the conference.

Exchange Forum 2 - Understanding the Strategies of Art for Reconciliation

The forum brings together the voices of artists, participants, audiences, funders and researchers. It aims to:

  • Explore the forms of knowledge that are privileged in the attempts to understand the impact of the arts on reconciliation
  • Create a platform for artists, audiences and participants to be heard
  • Discuss ways to remedy the fragmentary nature of information about/in the sector through knowledge exchange
  • Work towards a coherent strategy and understanding for AfR within the broader process of social reconciliation
  • Reflect upon upcoming challenges in the context of COVID-19.


14:00 – 14:15 Welcome and Introduction (Peter Shirlow, University of Liverpool)

14:15 – 15:45 Roundtable Discussion (Chair: David Grant, Queen's University Belfast; Co-Chair: Pauline Hadaway, University of Liverpool) Returning Knowledge to Practice: Exploring the Specific Methods and Strategies of AfR Findings from Phase 1 of the research indicated that there is a lack of information and understanding as to how artistic methodologies fit into the broader project of societal reconciliation. Currently there is no cohesive strategy as to where art is best employed, and how disparate AfR projects cohere into a broader, long-term programme for change. Moreover, existing data on what funded projects get funded is patchy, evaluation data is limited and rarely reprised, and knowledge of what has worked best and what hasn’t is not widely disseminated across the sector.The first discussion will deal, therefore, with the issues of continuity and sustainability: how can we better support AfR practices? And how might be capitalise on the legacies of AfR projects? Confirmed Speakers: Graeme Stevenson (ACNI), Eamonn Baker (Holywell Trust); Ken Bartley (ArtisAnn)

15:45 – 16:00 BREAK

16:00 – 17:30 Breakout Session (two discussions to run in parallel)

  1. Developmental Capacities: Audiences and Participants (Chair: Alex Coupe, University of Liverpool; Co-Chair: Pauline Hadaway, University of Liverpool) So much of our understanding of AfR practices comes from reporting or analysis of ‘outcomes’. All data collection, whether qualitative or quantitative, is made to fit these pre-ordained outcomes. Those transformations that take place at the margins of a project, or beyond the life span of a specific programme, are liable to be missed. Moreover, there is little space for the process of trial-and-error that is central to definitions of artistic creativity and those meaningful failures that are essential to refining the strategies of socially engaged art. We are left with only a partial understanding of the complex ways audiences or participants appropriate the lived experience of engaging with AfR projects. How might we provide spaces for audiences and non-professional participants to talk about the longer-term impacts, including small changes that have occurred? Speakers: Anne Walker (Theatre of Witness Participant); Robin Young (Theatre of Witness Participant); Ciara McHugh and Brenda McHugh (Audience members from Queer Céilí); Maggie Cronin (Actress, writer, director)

  2. Developmental Capacities: Artists (Chair: Tori Durrer, University College Dublin; Co-Chair: Peter Campbell, University of Liverpool) While we are already familiar with the lack of resources bearing down on the arts, a situation that looks set to get worse, we rarely talk about how artists negotiate with the pressures exerted by such material conditions to ensure the creative agency of their work. Above all, it is the artists voice that is lacking in the design and delivery of funding for AfR. We need to understand better the practical pressures faced by artists, from the task of developing trust with participants to ethical approaches to trauma, paying particular attention how we might balance artistic autonomy and instrumentality. At current, where arts interventions have ended, there is little support for picking up on what may have been ‘stirred up’ by a particular arts project. Funders need to hear about the challenges facing artists in a more discursive way.What support exists for artists engaged with difficult material in complex socio-political contexts? How can we facilitate a more conversational, discursive approach when designing how support is provided for artists? Confirmed Speakers: Vincent Higgins (Actor, Green & Blue); Paula Carson (Actor, Queer Céilí), Anthony Luvera (Artist, Residency)

17:30 – 18:00 Summary Remarks of Panels (Alex Coupe & Victoria Durrer)

18:00 Closing Remarks (Peter Shirlow)


Maggie Cronin

Maggie is an actress, writer and director. Over thirty-five years, her career has spanned many genres with numerous TV, film, stage, radio and voice over credits. Recently, she finished filming on Zone 414, starring Guy Pearce, and recorded Elaine Feeney’s short story Post for BBC Radio 4 (Transmission: 25th September 2020). Previous credits include starring in the Academy Award winning short film, The Shore, directed by Terry George. For theatre, she has toured the world, appearing in both London’s West End, New York’s Broadway and many points in between! Her first solo show, A Most Notorious Woman, won the Stewart Parker Trust/BBC Radio Drama Award and is published by Lagan Press

Maggie is currently undertaking a full time Practice as Research PhD at Queen’s University, Belfast, researching the lived experiences and unique challenges facing female theatre practitioners working in Northern Ireland. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Queen's.

Anne Walker

Born in 1968, the normalisation of violence and conflict had a profound impact on how Anne lived in the world and identified as a young woman of Derry. In 2010, in search for a deeper personal understanding, Anne engaged with Theatre of Witness in their Production of ‘I Once Knew a Girl’. She shared her story for the first time. This process was revelatory for Anne who felt a profound change had occurred. Since then, Anne has worked tirelessly to effect change through Live Performances, Storytelling & Art Workshop Facilitation, Media Recording or Personal Connection. Anne has used her story to help others on their journey toward reconciliation working with groups of ex-opposing combatants, victims and survivors, police, army, and people from conflict backgrounds locally, nationally and globally.

Anne’s work includes regular collaborations with: Theatre of Witness; schools and community groups; European and American collages; the Warrington Peace Centre; ex-prisoners and combatants; members of the Irish Consortium of Women's Mediators; Centreity; Training for Women's Network and Women in Community; the Playhouse Derry and Peace Academy; Research Advisory Committee - NI Arts

Ken Bartley

Ken Bartley is the co-owner of the ArtisAnn Gallery in Belfast. He was the project manager for the “Agreement: The People’s Process” exhibition which was shown at the Victoria Gallery & Museum, Liverpool and the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast (https://www.artisann.org/hands-of-history.html ). Prior to opening the gallery he was Information Manager at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and was responsible for administrating their digital archive of art related to the Troubles ( http://www.troublesarchive.com/) . He was joint author of an atlas based on computer analysis of historical records. He is currently a member of the steering group of Belfast Visual Arts Forum and Chair of the Digital Arts Studios in Belfast.

Paula Carson

An Actor and Theatre Maker, Paula trained at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London, under the direction of Catherine Alexander (Complicité) and John Wright (Told by an Idiot). Most recently Paula performed with Kabosh in A Queer Ceili at the Marty Forsythe. Paula has collaborated and performed with Foyle Pride Festival on Human at the Playhouse, Derry/Londonderry, and with Curious Doings on The Monsters Within and Faust. Paula has also had the pleasure to work and perform with Accidental Theatre, Big Telly , C21, and GBL Productions playing theatre and non-theatre spaces. She has also filmed with Spoton TV for the Department of Justice. It's an absolute pleasure for Paula to discuss creating work for positive social change.

Vincent Higgins

Vincent is an actor, drama facilitator and writer from Co Antrim. As an actor he has worked with many Irish theatre companies including Kabosh, the Lyric, the Abbey Theatre, Big Telly, Replay, Dubbeljoint, Rawlife and Storytellers as well as the Arts Over Border festival on multiple occasions. He has toured the work across Ireland, to Edinburgh Festival and Irish Cultural Centre London as well as Rwanda, Belgium, Sweden, South Africa, USA, Germany and France.

Vincent’s writing credits include The Rising Raffle, The Rivers of Ireland and Inventors (Kabosh), Citizen (Replay), Puckoon (Big Telly – Irish tour and West End transfer), Strike (ICTU), North Nua and Pariahs for RTE Radio; Deck the Falls, Fairytale of New Lodge and The Terrible Tragedy of the Twinbrook Turkey (Em Two Balloons). Each project has been developed in partnership with the community and staged in numerous contested sites.

Vincent is an associate artist with the Global Arts Corps with whom he facilitated arts development sessions in South Africa and Kosovo as well as performing with them in Boston. He is a board member of Brassneck Theatre Company, and a proud member of Equity.

Anthony Luvera

Anthony Luvera is an artist, writer and educator based in London. His work has been exhibited widely in galleries, public spaces, and festivals, including Tate Liverpool, People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, The Gallery at Foyles, British Museum, London Underground’s Art on the Underground, National Portrait Gallery London, Belfast Exposed Photography, Australian Centre for Photography, PhotoIreland, Malmö Fotobiennal, Goa International Photography Festival, and Les Rencontres D’Arles Photographie. His writing appears regularly in a wide range of publications including Photoworks, Source, Photographies, and Photography and Culture. Anthony is Associate Professor of Photography in the Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities at Coventry University, and editor of Photography For Whom?, a periodical about socially engaged photography. He also designs education and mentorship programmes, facilitates workshops, and gives lectures for the public education departments of Tate Britain, the National Portrait Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, The Photographers’ Gallery, Photofusion, Barbican Art Gallery, Magnum Photos, and community photography projects across the UK. www.luvera.com

Robin Young

Robin Young was brought up in the Protestant community, the sectarianism he saw caused him to doubt the attitudes that seemed to go with some of the politics. He was passionately interested in conflict as a young man but focused on the actual study of tactics and strategy. “While my peers read fictional comic books, I was engrossed in factual histories of conflict.” He says.

After short service with the military, Robin joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1986. His experiences of victim recovery at the Coshquin human bomb in 1990 and the Omagh bomb of 1998 affected him deeply and he suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The support obtained from so many people, both friends and former enemies, during his recovery inspired him to get involved with peace and reconciliation work in order to make a positive impact on peace at home and abroad. Having retired from the police in 2017, Robin graduated with a degree in Community Development and is working as a freelance consultant promoting reconciliation, conflict resolution and community understanding at home in Northern Ireland, across Europe and globally.

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