Visual art for a positive European narrative
26 Jan 2021
Fine Acts is a global non-profit creative studio for social impact. They work at the intersection of activism, art, tech and science; they practice and promote the values of experimentation and collaboration across disciplines to inspire social change.
Fine Acts collaborated with us on various projects in the past, such as the 2018 European Cultural Challenge, where Yana Buhrer-Tavanier, founding director, told us how her focus has always been on “creating mechanisms and systems to support the civic sector.” At Fine Acts, they design original creative formats (Labs and Sprints), produce socially engaged art pieces (latest collaboration with TED on climate change), develop various creative toolboxes (their platform for free activist art TheGreats.co), make tailor-made campaigns for other non-profits, and consult and train them in creative thinking and embracing art as tool for social change.
We interviewed Yana on their latest project “Strengthening solidarity and public space – the power of creativity.” Building on their expertise in innovative multi-disciplinary collaborations Fine Acts want to demonstrate the power of art to nurture solidarity, hope and unity with their European call for illustrations.
Fine Acts Foundation has been witnessing a global crackdown on civic space being further reinforced by the current pandemic – leading to strengthening authoritarianism, and suppressing civil liberties. This phenomenon of shrinking civic space doesn’t concern only civil actions but also democracy in itself. In this critical moment too many public campaigns are too dark, depressing and only focusing on showing abuses. Fine Acts Foundation beliefs we run the risk people will believe we live in a world of crises, with no alternatives. Fine Acts wants to transmit positive thoughts, focus on messages of shared humanity and visualise how to live together in communities.
The project addresses the continuing and urgent need for uplifting messages of unity, togetherness and solidarity that reinforce the feeling of belonging and the view of Europe as a shared space: “We believe that the current crisis can be a decisive catalyst for the human rights movement and that it reveals the fundamental necessity for hope and collective action,” Yana tells us.
Fine Acts is of the opinion art, openness and innovation are crucial for the development of democracy and civil society. For this reason, they are committed to producing open, novel creative works that matter, and to supporting organisations and activists as to have greater impact in nurturing civic engagement and mobilization. Yana explains: “Through global campaigns such as Spring of Hope (on hope, solidarity and resilience), 12/24, Surviving Blackness (on racial injustice and systemic racism), and Reimagining Human Rights art helps us imagining new narratives and illustrates the future we strive for. Our project with the European Cultural Foundation is an exciting continuation of these efforts.” It is clear they felt a lack of positive narratives to present Europe as a shared space, and give hope for the shared future.
Their project envisions a Europe-wide campaign on the topic of European solidarity, seen through the lenses of the enduring global pandemic. They will directly support individual artists, which are work-wise extremely vulnerable at the moment, and strengthen the capacity of the European civic community. Launching with a curated selection of 27 artists, one from each EU member state, the campaign will grow into a large movement through an open call to creative communities and art schools. All the produced art works will be open-sourced so everyone can use and adapt them to spread the message of solidarity, hope, togetherness and unity in different cities, and countries.
The project is pan-European and aims to distribute the free visual artworks to support citizens, small organizations and grass-root movements, which often lack the skills and resources to produce powerful visual content. By mixing macro and micro approaches, the campaign will ensure to reach different contexts, and to empower diverse communities.
“The creative placements will be executed in different locations, in close collaboration with local communities, making sure to adapt the created artworks to the language and needs of the specific region. In this way, we step aside from cultural uniformity and embrace the cultural diversity within Europe,” Yana adds.
A European shared public space
The project will engage a large number of artists and citizens by offering a novel experience in crafting, receiving and spreading a message of hope and solidarity. By developing a pan-European collective visual storytelling tool about our challenging present and the common future, the project will contribute to the larger discourse of Europe as an open and shared space for everyone. Furthermore, the campaign wants to accumulate a large collection of open-license visual artworks, which will uplift a variety of voices and visual stories from across Europe. For stories from the margins of Europe are often not represented in mainstream media but are crucial for nurturing the spirit of European unity.
Through the campaign, Fine Acts Foundation will offer citizens and communities not only a message of hope, solidarity and care, but also free and inspiring resources to debate on and reimagine the shared public space in the (post-)pandemic era.
Furthermore, together with local coordinators, they will produce creative placements (think of placing posters, projection mappings, disseminating postcards, using billboards, pop-up exhibitions) in public spaces across different countries, putting the produced artworks in action and engaging diverse communities in a cross-border practice of solidarity and hope. The campaign aims to attract media attention and wants to present an alternative narrative to deal with the lasting crisis.
Granted: 14700 euros