Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

about PLATFORM 11+

On April 2nd 2009 the EU-Commission announced the jury’s decision concerning the grants programme „Culture 2007”: Chosen from a large number of applications PLATFORM 11+ Artistic Discoveries on European Schoolyards was financed over four years, starting on May 1st 2009. The leading organisation of that artistic network was Brageteatret in Drammen/Norway, which collaborated with the initiator of the project, Dirk Neldner/Germany. In cooperation with ATINA Argentina, PLATFORM 11+ continued in several countries of South America.

In PLATFORM 11+ 11-15 year old young people were put at the centre of diverse artistic activities. The partners were curious to learn more about this generation, which will make its mark on the Europe of the future. They wanted to know what goes on in this group’s daily life, what moves them emotionally, what they think about themselves and their environment.

The schoolyard was the inspiring location for the artists because it is the meeting place in which first identity-forming-experiences take place. The social behavior of young people in their school grounds mirrors the society in which they are growing into. The schoolyard provides a very important Stop-over in life for many people regardless of their social and cultural backgrounds and even their age. On the basis of this the partners mount a many-layered project. The prospects of the biggest possible EU subsidy increased the motivation to formulate unusual terms and conditions. These conditions were to be different from the daily theatre work and should be marked by the exchange of the differing skills. It was clear, that it’s difficult to get this heterogeneous age group, located between the end of childhood and the beginning of puberty, interested in culture.

That’s why In PLATFORM 11+ partners joined who could deal with the interdisciplinary approach (Performing and Visual Arts) and who were willing to enter into an artistic dialogue with young people. Young people were actively involved in every stage of the project, they could playfully change the perspective from receiver to communicator.

The project began with the work of the authors: they conducted thematic research in the European schoolyards; their new plays were converted for the professional theatre. Simultaneously new plays from young people evolved. Visual artists operated in a similar way, many of them accompanied the performances: They too stimulated the young people to be visually active. Along with the three major international Youth Encounters (Tallinn/ EE 2011, York/GB 2012, Dresden/DE 2012) the most obvious example of this interchangeable communication was in the final P11+ production FACE ME. The dialogue between professional artists and amateurs was rarely a one-way street in which only the young people benefitted. Many artists described that they were surprised how much benefit they had derived from the artistic exchange with the target group. The over 50 plays, which were written and performed for this age group during the last four years in the framework of P11+, show the seriousness and depth of this dialogue between professional artists and young Europeans. PLATFORM 11+ has thus achieved its main goal: the creation of a new, up-to-date repertoire for young people aged between 11 and 15. Many of these tried and tested plays will be performed in the future too, making the performances for P11+ only a stop-over. There were lots of artists, educators, teachers and young people who were actively involved in P11+ over the last four years. For all of these people, we have built up a platform enabling encounters, intense exchange and mutual stimulation which, without doubt, will continue to function long after the period of the EU project.