Co-directors Carly and Jess recently visited the Netherlands as part of our Imaginary Communities Intergenerational project, in an aim to share best practice and knowledge with knowledge institute Leyden Academy and cultural organisation, Amphion Theater. Here, Lieke, PHD student at Leyden Academy, tells us more.
How the project began
At Leyden Academy on Vitality and Aging, we conduct scientific research on various topics themed around vitality and aging. As well as research, we are also focussed on impacting the daily lives of older people, so we set up various projects based on the research carried out across the country. The focus of my PhD is on participatory arts and aging, exploring the connection between arts and health and how artists and health care institutions can work together in a collaborative and effective way.
I have a background in theatre studies. I studied at the University of Manchester, which is where I first met Chol’s Vicky in a masterclass on Imaginary Communities. I have always wanted to bring the method to the Netherlands. In my current position I work a lot with Amphion Cultuurbedrijf, a cultural organisation with a well-developed artistic programme for older people. Together, we developed a pilot project based on Imaginary Communities, exploring how Imaginary Communities can be applied effectively with participants from different age groups and generations.
Exchanging knowledge and best practice
The main aim for the week was for Chol Theatre, Leyden Academy and Amphion Theatre to exchange knowledge and share best practice. With Chol’s expertise in Imaginary Communities, working mainly with young people, and Amphion’s experience on facilitating intergenerational arts projects, everyone was able to learn from each other.
During the week, Chol taught their method in a one day masterclass. All participants were very inspired and learned new ways of working with groups in a co-creative, imaginative way. Jess and Carly observed Boaz Boele, drama teacher at Amphion, in an intergenerational project. Afterwards, they exchanged ideas about working intergenerationally. Furthermore, the last day they planned the pilot project, which was such a luxury, because Jess and Carly, with all their Imaginary Communities experience, could share their expertise with the team from Amphion. We also discussed the research project and how we will carry out the research during the pilot.
A real highlight for me was Carly and Jess’s enthusiasm about the fact that the Dutch imaginary community had a ‘period den’ in it, leading me to consider how it will be interesting to compare the sort of themes and places that appear in a Dutch imaginary community to the ones that often appear in the UK. Another highlight was getting to know each other; the project leaders and drama teachers from Amphion and Carly and Jess from Chol. We clicked pretty much instantly, and it was great spending time and exchanging ideas with brilliant, professional and imaginative minds.
In October, Carly and Jess will be visiting the Netherlands again for a celebration event, and to explore the Imaginary Communities and the characters created within them. This is a fantastic opportunity to discuss how both Chol Theatre and Amphion Theater have been embedding their learnings since the initial meet up and continue to share and develop methodology and practice.
On a longer term basis I’d like to work on follow up projects, starting at Amphion and exploring how we can expand the imaginary communities programme to other target groups.
Find out more
Find out more about our Imaginary Communities Intergenerational Project in the Netherlands here, or if you would like to find out more about Imaginary Communities in your school or organisation, or you would like to download some useful resources, please check out Imaginary Communities on our website.