Art.1 Radio #12 - Letters For The Lonely

Eddie describes the night of his arrival in the Netherlands, having just left behind his successful life in Jordan, with many friends.

Art.1 Radio #11 - Three Lives

A person from Chechnya, now living in the Netherlands, tells us about his first, second and third life.

Screening Up Close & Personal: LGBT Police

On the 19th of July, International Film Festival Prishtina (PriFest) screened ‘Up Close and Personal: LGBT Police’, a film by Chris Belloni which documented the lives of LGBTQ+ police officers from different countries around the world, conveying a portrait of how their sexuality or gender identity played a part in their profession. The session was opened by the Dutch Ambassador Gerrie WIllems, and it was concluded with a debate with two of the police officers starring in the film: Marja Lust and Abdel-Aziz Laten, who are part of the Dutch police network “Roze In Blauw” which assists cases of violence or discrimination against LGBTQ+ citizens. The ambassador Marriët Schuurman also took part, as well as Salih Dragidella, the officer responsible for Gender Equality and LGBT issues in the Kosovo police.
For a detailed report by Kosovo2.0 click here

Your Artists for Change in Prishtina: Queer Film Days and Filmmaking Workshop

Between the 16th and the 21st of July, art.1 had a very exciting time in Prishtina, Kosovo. While the 11th edition of the Prishtina International Film Festival took place, the project Youth Artivists for Change brought the Queer Film Days into the program, screening several movies which regarded LGBTQ+ topics.

The opening consisted of the film ‘I am Sofia’, which told the story of a young transgender woman from Rome and the challenges she faced. The protagonist herself, Sofia Qyvalar, was present at the event and, after the film, she took part on a debate about the importance of art for LGBTQ+ activism. Alongside her, sat Marriët Schuurman (the Human Rights Ambassador for the Netherlands), Chris Belloni (filmmaker and founder of art.1), and Erblin Nushi (a filmmaker from Kosovo who emigrated to the USA), for a conversation moderated by Sudeep Dasgupta, a professor from the University of Amsterdam. All of them shared their experiences and engaged with the audience in a discussion which touched multiple topics such as the clash of different realities, emigration, the creation of communities and the importance of film

The program went on with films such as Consequences - our Queer Film Days selection - from the Slovenian director Darko Štante, which later won the prize of Best European Film, awarded by the festival jury.

Alongside the screenings and the debates, it was also time for the first filmmaking workshop to take place in Prishtina. The Dutch trainer Nienke Eijsink and the local trainer Gazmend Nela introduced the group of young participants to the primary notions of documentary making and how they can be used to talk about Human Rights, LGBTQ+ issues and Gender Equality. The workshop was hosted in the Drop In Center, managed by Centre for Equality and Liberty (CEL), another partner of the project. The group of young people took great advantage of the safe space to talk about things that really mattered to them, such as asexuality, the process of coming out, fetishes and activism. By the end of the training, they all had produced short films, some were documentaries, while others were animation pieces or stories created from past experiences that they had had.

On Saturday, 20th of July, we all gathered in CEL’s safe art space to watch their work being screened. Donarta and Raven worked on a piece about bullying and fat shaming, while Valza created an animation alerting for violence. Bjeshkë made a documentary about the protests which had taken place in the previous day, regarding the police discrimination towards the Roma community in Kosovo. Gentrit created an animation about feet fetishism, and about the taboos and prejudices it involves. With Donarta’s help, Alba also told the story of how a friend of hers commited suicide due to an unexpected pregnancy which would not be tolerated by her family. On top of all of this, there was still time for an animation about being asexual, developed by Vernesa, and an animation about coming out of the closet as a lesbian, created by Alba. Raven also produced a short film where he interviewed everyone and made a summary of the workshop that showcased how much fun everyone had had (especially when they had to get very crafty and creative to find ways to overcome the absence of tripods :-)


The festival continued until the 21st of July, when art.1 left Prishtina with a bittersweet feeling and looking very much forward to see more of what these young artivists are going to do in the future.

Attending the Training Refugees+ for Youth Workers in Brussels

Recently, our intern Clara Mendes participated in the training Refugees+ which took place in Brussels, organized by JINT and funded by Erasmus+. 

Besides her, other twenty-three people from 20 different nationalities joined the training, eager to learn about each other’s projects and practices concerning the integration of young migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in their countries of residency. 

The training was conducted by Jana Pajic and Pepijn Hellebuyck who worked hard to maintain a good balance between work and fun throughout the week. The multiple ice-breaking games and group activities were a crucial part in order for the participants to establish very close relationships with each other and to feel comfortable in sharing more about their life and work experiences. 

The organization made sure that the participants got familiar with multiple NGOs which are actively working on these topics within Belgium. For instance, representatives from Tumult and PIN came to the venue to present their project Navigate You(th), through which they have developed a peer coaching system so that refugees who are already established in the country can help newcomers finding suiting activities for their free time while articulating the process with their families. 

The group also had the opportunity to visit different cities in Belgium and to get to know the environment in which other NGOs work. Some of the participants went to Antwerp, while others made their way to Louvain, or stayed in the area to further explore Brussels. Clara’s group went to Ghent, where they got to know Refu Interim (who aims to promote the social and professional self-sufficiency of newcomers, through paid volunteering experiences), Jong (an open house in the neighborhood which welcomes young asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, where they can find support and multiple activities) and JES (an urban laboratory developing innovative projects for children and youth in Belgium). The day ended with a wonderful session of communal cooking under the orientation of a Kurdish Syrian family and some magic tricks performed by some of the youngsters from the youth center.

The rest of the days were filled with workshops, presentations and debates, organized and carried on by all the participants, plus very touching personal stories shared by the ones who were also refugees. Topics discussed included sexual health, trauma, self-care, local action and youth participation, alongside activities such as dancing or visiting an Arabic bookshop. 

On the last evening, at the Open Arts House Globe Aroma, an artistic work and meeting place that newcomers can use to improve for their own cultural and artistic development, the group was surprised with a workshop of Dabke, a traditional dance performed by Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians and Jordanians. It was the perfect (even though exhausting!) end for an incredible week, full of captivating ideas, hopes, projects, friends, cultures and lots of languages.

Pride Parade in Ljubljana

This year’s Ljubljana’s Pride Parade took place on Saturday, 22nd of June and art.1 had the pleasure to be a part of it.

The parade happened on the last day of the Festival Parada Ponosa, which lasted for 12 days and included several cultural, performative, political, conversational and educational activities.

This year’s message focused on drawing attention to the culture of hate which targets LGBTIQ+ community and other marginalized groups.

On the morning before the parade, a bazaar took place in the streets of Ljubljana, as well as a Living Library, organized by Stichting art.1’s partner, Legebitra. The Living Library is a project which aims to encourage active dialogue as a way to tackle stereotypes and prejudices. In the library, the books are real people who are willing to share their real stories with whoever wishes to “read” them. This year’s topic was “Intersectionality” and it brought together 18 queer people who also belonged to or were somehow related to other minorities.

In the afternoon, the streets of Ljubljana were flooded with colors as 2500 people walked by, danced or even cycled along. Towards the end, the crowd gathered in one of the main squares to listen to the political speeches and to watch a supersized rainbow flag being released from the top of the city castle.

The evening went on with different artistic performances just before the party in Metelkova, which made possible for everyone to wrap up this very important day with lots of fun and dancing.

Perform2Reform: Multiplier Event in Ljubljana

Stichting art.1 has been in Ljubljana, Slovenia, for the Multiplier Event of our project Perform2Reform, organized by our partner Legebitra. The event consisted of a training on how to use their recently finished book, “Mavrica v žepu” (‘Rainbow in the pocket’), which will function as a manual for teachers and youth workers who wish to address LGBT+ topics through art.

The event started with speeches from Mitja Blažič, Lana Gobec and Katja Sešek (Legebitra), who told the audience about the process and the importance of such a book.

Legebitra manages a youth center but, as Katja Sešek explained, the youth that visits it to be in a safe space still have to go back to schools and other environments where they are victims of discrimination. For that reason, the organization felt that it was necessary to have a more comprehensive approach to the problem and elaborate a toolkit that could better equip the schools to respond to these issues. Furthermore, we got to hear about the project “A Scuola Per Conocerci”, brought to us by Sandi Paulina, vice president responsible for foreign affairs and contacts with Slovenian minority Arcigay Arcobaleno Trieste Goiza ONLUS. This is a project which consists of an educational proposal for schools to tackle homophobic and transphobic bullying and the different forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. To finalize the speeches, Derk Jan Nauta, head of mission at the Embassy of The Netherlands, congratulated the project and reaffirmed its importance, reflecting on the reported numbers of discrimination in schools.

After a wonderful lunch prepared by +Kantina MSUM, a project which works towards the inclusion of refugees, we were all ready and eager to start the training.

As Katja explained, the manual includes an extensive section on research and clarification of LGBT+ topics to empower teachers and youth workers so that they can feel comfortable when discussing these matters. Besides, it includes 9 different workshops dedicated to different age groups, consisting of multiple levels of complexity. Filip Vurnik and Laura Pihlar, two of the authors of the book, guided us through some of the workshops which are proposed in the manual, explaining how they should be used, offering tips and advice, and also listening to our feedback and discussion. The workshops tackled subjects such as power relations, privilege, equality of opportunities, oppression, discrimination and empathy.

Their meticulous work makes it possible for people who want to engage in these topics with their students to do it in an informed and respectful manner, which can simultaneously be fun, stimulating and very engaging for the youth.

The Slovenian version of ‘Rainbow in the pocket’ can be found here and the English translation will be made available in September.

Art. 1 in Cuba

Jorge Luis Baños/IPS.
Photo: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS.

Art. 1 was invited to join the programming of the queer film festival  “De la Rambla al Malecón - Festival por la Diversidad” in Cuba, which ended up being canceled by the government. However, it was still possible to organize a screening of our film “Up Close & Personal: LGBT Police”, facilitated by the Dutch Embassy, CENESEX and UNDP.

Unfortunately, Havana’s Conga Against Homophobia march, the equivalent to the pride parade, was also called subversive by the government and subsequently canceled.  Despite that, LGBT+ activists still managed to hold a counter-parade and Chris Belloni, the founder of art. 1, got to be present at the event.

Art. 1 is currently exploring possibilities for setting up a two-year project similar to Youth Artivists for Change in Cuba, as a way to provide trainings and create safe spaces for youth to engage with Human Rights, Gender Equality and LGBT+ Rights through art.

Upcoming: Perform2Reform multiplier event in Slovenia

A multiplier event promoted by Legebitra as part of the Perform to Reform project will take place on June 21st, in Ljubljana, Slovenia.  It will consist of a training on how to use their recently developed toolkit for youth centers, schools and NGOs. “Mavrica v žepu” (‘The rainbow in the pocket’) is the name of the manual which represents the organization's intellectual output of the project which is intended for youth workers, trainers and teachers. The purpose of the manual is to support youth and education workers in the promotion of an inclusive and respectful society, by addressing the complex and sensitive topic of peer violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity and/or sexual expression. During the multiplier event, the participants will have access to multiple workshops addressing different aspects of LGBTQ-topics.

Furthermore, the 19th Ljubljana Pride parade will take place on the 22nd of June, followed by a political program which will consist of speeches, concerts and performances. Since we will be visiting, Stichting art. 1 will also make sure to be present for the event!

“Perform to Reform” (P2R) project is an initiative by Stichting art.1 which aims to develop tools based on performative arts and soft skill methodologies in order to address sexual diversity topics and to create powerful and adaptable techniques for youth workers and educators.