Arts Dialogue

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Claiming back our creative freedom as Artists within Peacebuilding and Community Relations - Challenging traditional and default formats of conferences, workshop models and safe space concepts - A unique Arts led approach for shared learning drawing on a decades of peacebuilding experience across the Globe.

“Music does not assist dialogue. Music is the Dialogue” – Mark Smulian (Heartbeat)


The Global Youth Peace Summit was held across Northern Ireland in March 2017 facilitated by Beyond Skin in partnership with organisations, peace builders and artists across the globe. The design went against the grain of traditional conferences allowing unprogrammed space for creativity, natural dialogue and relationship building.

#GYPS2017 was part of the #youth4peace initiative implementing UN Resolution 2250 on Youth Peace & Security. Some visuals documenting #GYPS2017 have already been released with other multimedia and outcomes presentations in post-production.
An unexpected legacy outcome of #GYPS2017 was the organic construction of Arts Dialogue, a creative engine of artists working for Peace.

Arts Dialogue has been driven by Beyond Skin (Northern Ireland), Heartbeat (Israel-Palestine), The Music Project (Sri Lanka) & Escuelas de Paz (Colombia) with assistance from United Network of Young Peace Builders and Brehon Advisory.
Combining a shared creative resource of decades of experience in peacebuilding, community development and youth work within very different areas of conflict and post-conflict, Arts Dialogue collective have designed a shared approach to enabling youth as agents of change through the Arts.

Beyond physical meet-ups, collaborations and delivery of projects the Arts Dialogue team have been operating and communicating through a WhatsApp Group housed by Beyond Skin.

Although working with all ages a focus of #ArtsDialogue will implementation of the #youth4peace ambassador’s programme, delivered by members of Arts Dialogue team – an intergenerational diversity of artists, young peace activists and professionals in conflict resolution.

Arts Dialogue Genesis timeline:

• 2012 Beyond Skin establish the #Parallelversing Project with The Music Project Sri Lanka, an organisation using music to bring children together impacted by legacy of conflict
• 2013 Beyond Skin start working in partnership with WOMAD Foundation
• 2014 United Network of Young Peacebuiders (UNOY) and members (includes Beyond Skin & Escuelaz de Paz) form part of a consortium as part of the #youth4peace campaign 
• 2015 (December), #youth4peace achievement as UN adopts Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace Security.
• 2016 (January) Beyond Skin take lead responsibility of #youth4peace initiative in Northern Ireland on behalf  of United Network of Young Peace Builders, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) & Search for Common Ground
• 2016 (May) Beyond Skin set up #youth4peace Steering group
• 2016 (July) WOMAD Foundation introduces Beyond Skin to Heartbeat, an organisation bringing young people from Palestine and Israel together through Music.
• 2016 (October) Beyond Skin CEO travels to a conference in Colombia invited by British Council and established #FUTyoURES project with Escuelas de Paz NGO in Bogota.
• 2017 (March) Beyond Skin host the first Global Youth Peace Summit in Northern Ireland across 5 council districts. Using Arts as the engagement and learning dialogue the Summit was facilitated by artists and peace builders from Heatbeat, Escuelas de Paz, The Music Project, UNOY with also artists from Tanzania, England, Wales, Ireland, Spain. Brehon Advisory facilitated the development of a Arts Dialogue framework.
• 2017 (April) ARTS DIALOGUE COLLECTIVE ESTABLISHED with the first #ArtsDialogue workshop taking place 3rd July in Antrim Northern Ireland.

Arts Dialogue #youth4peace Objectives

Under the leading management of Beyond Skin the Arts Dialogue group agreed to actively cooperate based on the following understandings, namely:
a) acknowledging the role of young people in successful peacebuilding,
b) advocating for the role of informal Arts-driven dialogue, and
c) agreeing to collaborate to advance the understanding and sharing the impact of Arts Dialogue for young people raised in conflict-affected communities.

Central to the impact of is the understanding that young people raised in conflict tend to become
politically aware sooner than young people raised in peace. As a result, conflict-affected youth are important to change agents, central to any initiative that:
a) champions peace,
b) seeks to break down communication barriers,
c) creates alternative methods of inclusion,
d) recognises the need for youth consultation in legislative and policy proposals,

Through participation in workshops Beyond Skin and the Arts Dialogue network note that:
a)  The voices of the next generation respond well when called upon to share their perspectives through music, performance, and the creative arts.
b) Contrary to traditional peacebuilding, an arts-driven dialogue approach allows young people to share insights and perspectives on the very issues that affect them most.

Arts Dialogue creates the potential for widespread, long-term engagement, and young citizen generated responses to governments’ policies and programmes.
a) Arts Dialogue provides a platform for young people to engage in a shared experience, often for the first time.
b) For many young people, Arts-driven dialogues create an opportunity to meet and communicate with people they might otherwise never engage with, in an environment where trust can be created.

#ArtsDialogue delivery and approach puts the Arts at the heart of the space & dialogue challenging traditonal formats of workshops, good relations events, conferences and managing shared space. This is in contrast to other approaches were the Arts element is viewed as an add-on or the artistic elements are moulded round a formal schedule.

Worth a read: 'How did awful panel discussions become the default format?'


Currently #ArtsDialogue 2017 projects taking place in Antrim, Ards, Belfast, Cookstown, Castlereagh, Lisburn, Newtownabbey, North Down.