The project “ARENA: Community Theatre and Public Art” was launched in 2015. The project is aimed at improving the impact of peacebuilding efforts by the civil society actors in the conflict affected post-Soviet area. For the last three years, the project initiators, Armenian NGO Peace Dialogue and OWEN e.V. in Germany, support peacebuilding and human rights activists as well as independent artists from the South Caucasus Region, Russian Federation and Ukraine in developing pro-active, art-based strategies and hands-on methodologies for the community-based peacebuilding.
In 2018 the teams in PD and OWEN will strive to support the local groups in implementing activities derived from their strategies, further strengthen the regional network and to involve new actors from the mentioned regions.
The workshop “Art and visualization in community peacebuilding processes” was the first event of the project’s second year (2017). The aim of the workshop was to understand what peacebuilding means to each of the participants, as well as find out, through a joint work, which particular visual tools are effective and how these tools can be used in the activities condacted with conflict affected groups, based on current social and political peculiarities of the participants’ respected countries.
From 24 to 27 April, 2017, 14 participants were invited to take part in a workshop aimed at implementing a participatory and comprehensive analysis of conflict dynamics in the project involved region and review of the participant’s role in these processes during the last two years. The workshop was entitled “Systematizing the experiences of ARENA project in 2015 and 2016.” With this workshop the organizers intended to establish a relevant basis for developing pro-active, bottom-up peacebuilding strategies, suitable in the specific local contexts of the ARENA community members.
On February 4, 11, and 18, 2017 workshops were organized for 20 young activists and students aged 17-35 at Peace Dialogue NGO office. The aim of the workshops was to discuss with the participants and raise their understanding of the principles of democracy, to understand how much they see human rights, freedom, diversity and equality, as well as people’s free choice and mutual cooperation as important values that serve the basis for building a democratic society.
Human rights in the military is an issue of concern to rights groups around the world. In Armenia, reports by local and international organisations and the US Department of State suggest a concerning situation in the the country’s armed forces.
During the initial phases of the project, the idea of creating sustainable platform/network of civil society actors involved in peacebuilding initiatives in the targeted conflict affected countries remains a priority for the ARENA implementing team.
All the participants had the opportunity to apply for a project which would allow them to get closely acquainted with each other, share their own experience among each other, learn about the situation in the local communities, as well as present projects aimed at cooperative learning and strengthen the ties between the activists and independent artists functioning in the spheres of human rights and peace-building in Russian Federation, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Georgia.
German Foundation Culture Counts in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office organized the first “Global Peacebuilder Summit” from September 4-9, 2016. 30 peace and human rights activists from around the world gathered in Berlin to discuss the role of civil society in peacebuilding processes. The objective of the “Global Peacebuilder Summit” was to strengthen these key actors in their commitment, to make their work better known to the broad public, and to facilitate the networking between them.