This month Hamdasti Founder Member, Sumona Chakravarty participated in an Arts Management workshop as a part of the 2014 Art Think South Asia Fellowship. The two week workshop brought together arts managers from across South Asia working on diverse projects like a theatre festival in Dharamshala, a platform for artists in the North East and a public art festival in Karachi. Sumona's biggest takeaway from the experience was the importance of the process of strategic planning with the entire team in order to develop ownership and buy in. Plans may continuously evolve and fail, as we often see with Chitpur Local, but its more important to ensure everyone on the team co-creates and owns an overall vision and direction.
Photograph courtesy ATSA
On April 26th our team of artists and the students set up an exhibition of the work developed through the workshops so far. During the week preceding the exhibition we met up with local residents, teachers and shopkeepers and invited them for the event, as well as sent home invitation cards with the students for their families.
Manuel Klappe, an art-historian and curator from Amsterdam, who was in Kolkata on a residency collaborated with us in designing this participatory event. It was on his advice that we created this giant map, linking it with red thread to spaces we had explored through the workshops and with yellow to possible future interventions. We also brainstormed about ways to create maximum participation and elicit the most frank feedback, and involve the students as key facilitators and planners.
We then facilitated a one day workshop with the students where we collectively created questionnaires for visitors. Each questionnaire was created by a team of four students, each with a specific role- writer, photographer, sound recorder and interviewer. Each team, selected one spot in the locality that they had explored during the workshops and created questions about the possible community based cultural events, installations and exhibitions that could be developed at these sites.
Then after post school preparations...
We were ready the next morning, with the students extremely excited about their new role as ushers, guides and interviewers.
Details about the feedback we got coming up in a subsequent post, but all in all everyone was extremely enthusiastic and we look forward to many such events in the future!
We are a Kolkata based non-profit dedicated to promoting civic engagement through participatory art projects.