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Общи :: The visual arts as a prevention tool

The visual arts as a prevention tool

Panel"Emi and Ani"
Sofia, March 11 2014

On March 11th, the short animation “Emi and Ani” focused on two serious problems of the marginalized communities – early school dropouts and early marriages and deliveries, was launched at the residency of the British Ambassador in Sofia.

The film was created with the active participation of the Roma communities in Sliven and Shumen.  The drawings were made by the young Roma artist Asen Hristov.  The source of inspiration for the drawings were the children and the families he worked with at the Shumen Family Consulting Centre’s Art workshop – part of UNICEF’s project “A Family for Every Child”. The characters in the film are voiced by Stefka and Fanny from the Roma neighborhood “Nadejda” in Sliven and the music is performed by the famous local Roma band “White swans”. Ventzislav Kirkov from BFPA is the Executive Producer. The initiative received active support from H.E. Jonathan Allen, UK Ambassador in Bulgaria, and the British organizations Comic Relief and The Tudor Trust.

Asen HristovAfter the premiere there was an open discussion “The visual arts as a prevention tool”. The discussion focused on innovative approaches for increasing awareness and participation in vulnerable communities. Here are some of the main messages of the panelists during the discussion:

H.E. Jonathan Allen, UK Ambassador in Bulgaria: Education is at the basis of every effort of community development. According to data from the World Bank 23% of the new arrivals to the Bulgarian labor market are Roma, and only one in five has graduated secondary school. This means that a huge and increasing part of the Bulgarian workforce is not competitive in a globalizing world. The solution for Bulgaria is either to import workers, or to develop the full potential of the existing working potential, including Roma community.

Media coverageVentzislav Kirkov, BFPA, Producer of “Emi and Ani”: The most valuable thing is that families from the marginalized groups figured out for themselves at least two of the factors that increase their poverty – early school dropouts and early marriages. Thus the idea for the plot of the film was created within the community and the educational element in the making of the artwork was not externally enforced. Without such awareness we cannot expect a real change in behavior.  It seems to me that such an approach is really important. Furthermore, such an approach does not demand a lot of financing, most of all it demands care and attention.

Dr. Radosveta Stamenkova, BFPA, Executive Director: Products like “Emi and Ani” have powerful messages not because they contain some miraculous discoveries, but because they have been made by the people from the community and carry a huge emotional charge and a lot of authenticity.  It is up to us to use them the best we can. To me, this film is the foot we put in the door Attendanceso that it doesn’t slam in our face, but to be used as a topic for discussion and a search for answers and solutions.

Victor Lilov, Mesechina Music: Some time ago within a project we created an informal musical school for little children in the “Nadejda” district of Sliven, and as a direct outcome the band “Karandila Junior” was later formed. We had to renovate the premises and when it was done, the first opening day the children were lined up waiting with music notebooks in hand. They were really eager to learn and become the musicians they are today. Nowadays they receive invitations to participate in concerts, they know what an art program is, they know what good management is, they know how good it feels to be appreciated – their point of view has changed. They understood what it is to have an equal opportunity. I would like such projects to be elaborated not by us, but by people like the “White Swans” and other members of the Roma community.

Tanya Kovacheva, OAK Foundation: For years we have been funding projects for prevention of sexual exploitation of children in Bulgaria. I think it’s necessary to seek new possibilities for improving cooperation on an inter-institutional level.

Link to a photo gallery of the event

See also our short film on prevention of trafficking - "Two little girls"



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Общи :: The visual arts as a prevention tool