Project report: a performing arts camp with a difference

Grantee: Inclusive Studies, Lutsk, Ukraine  
Project: Inclusive art practices 

The project “Inclusive Art Practices” took place in Lutsk, Ukraine this summer. It was implemented by the NGO “Inclusive Studies” with the support of The BEARR Trust and The Igor Palytsia “Tilky Razom” Foundation.  

The project included a series of inclusive, accessible music and theatre, art therapy, and paper sculpture classes for young people both with and without disabilities. During these classes, beneficiaries gained new knowledge and skills, which they were then able to apply in creating an inclusive theatre performance.  

So that participants could immerse themselves in the creative process as much as possible, we organised an art camp for them. During the camp, participants wrote and performed a play entitled, “The history of my city” for the public. Experienced trainers from Lutsk and Kyiv, psychologists and art therapists, helped run the camp: Tamara Nauk (Kyiv), Vadym Khainskyi (Lutsk), Viktoria Kolodiazhna (Lutsk), Yuliia Varchenko (Lutsk), Nadiia Bruyaka (Lutsk), Olesya Ishchuk (Lutsk). Volunteers were previously trained at Inclusive Studies’ Volunteer School so that they could help in the classes.  

Viktoria Kolodyazhna, the camp’s project coordinator

Viktoria Kolodyazhna, the camp’s project coordinator and a music teacher said: 

Participants learn to trust the world and each other. They learn to make friends and interact. And through this process, stories are born that they want to share. We want each participant to tell us why they love their city and to share their hopes for the city’s future.” 

Tamara Nauk, the project’s performance director:  

We explored the city, listened to it, recorded its sounds. These sounds happen around us every day, but we normally pay hardly pay attention to them. We also photographed the city and objects associated with it. Our actors brought these photos to life and recreated the sounds of the city using musical instruments and their voices. Over the course of several weeks, project participants created paper sculptures of various objects they felt represented the city. Finally, these sculptures were brought to life by the camp’s talented participants.”  

Participants and volunteers created paper sculptures inspired by their city, which were later used as props in the play.

The participants also voiced and drew their dreams. Here are just a few of them: we dream “of being able to access not just pharmacies in a wheelchair”, “of swings to play on”, “of park space in the city”, “of the proper preservation of our city’s historical monuments”, “of everyone having a safe home where they are loved and respected”, “of the unity of Lutsk”. 

The chairperson of the Igor Palytsia “Tilky Razom” Foundation, Kateryna Shklyoda, shared her impressions of the play:  

Such performances always make you think. Especially the parts without any speech, when the actors seek to convey their experiences through their movements and expressions. I really enjoyed the performance. There were moments when my skin was tingling, and tears were flowing.” 

Nastya Kotvytska (project volunteer):  

At first, I admit it was scary, starting something so unfamiliar and uncertain. But any fear gradually faded away thanks to the love, care and understanding shown by the group towards one another. Thanks to this performance, citizens of Lutsk and visitors were able to hear stories about the camp participants’ urban existence.”

Nastya Kotvytska (project volunteer)

Overall, through the activities that made up our project, “Inclusive art practices”, we helped to improve disabled access to education and the arts and to broaden the range of leisure activities open to people with disabilities. We also supported families caring for people with disabilities; increased public awareness about people with disabilities and assisted with their integration into society, and we helped develop Lutsk’s volunteer sector.  

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