Illustration: © 2017, Peace Dialogue. Author: Dana Kavelina (Kyiv, Ukraine).
The ARENA network was established in the framework of the project “ARENA: Community Theatre and Public Art” of Peace Dialogue NGO and its German partner OWEN. The project is aimed at improving the impact of peacebuilding efforts by the civil society actors in the conflict affected post-Soviet area at the grass roots level. In August, 2017 the participants of the network developed a strategy for the ARENA community, consisting of various actions to be implemented in the communities of the network members in the South Caucasus, Russian Federation and Ukraine.
From 3rd to 4th of October a working meeting for the ARENA community members was held in Tbilisi. The aim of the meeting was to jointly analyze what kind of support the participants will need in implementing their strategies and how the experience and the knowledge of the network members can contribute to the effective realization of each other’s strategies. During the working meeting the organizers created a space for the participants to jointly implement detailed analysis of recent political and social dynamics in their respective countries and the impact of these dynamics on the civil society processes.
Many participants mentioned that in their countries the militaristic tendencies are largely accepted by broader public; violence (including gender-based violence) is not perceived as a vice or is viewed as a proper resolution of daily conflicts and ethno-political disputes. They highlighted that the atmosphere of fear and apathy in their communities reduces chances to involve new people who will help them in realization of their strategies. The participants also mentioned that they expect that the project teams in Peace Dialogue and OWEN will strive to support the local groups in implementing activities derived from their strategies, further strengthen the regional network and help them in involving new actors from their respective communities.
Three initiatives were selected by the participants as a starting point for the implementation of the Action Plan derived from their strategies. The main topics of the upcoming actions are:
- Forming dialogue across History and Memories;
- Enhancing Gender-Based Approach in community based peace work;
- Using art instruments in public awareness raising activities.
The participants of the working meeting expressed their commitment in supporting the teams in Peace Dialogue and OWEN in raising the funds for the network’s further activities.
Project’s German Partner – OWEN – Mobile Akademie für Geschlechterdemokratie und Friedensförderung e.V.
The project “Arena: Community Theater and Public Art” is supported by the zivik (Civil Conflict Resolution) programme of the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa) with means from the German Federal Foreign Office.