CultureLabs pilot in Ancona: video feddback from the participants

The activities of CultureLabs project have been suspended due to the global health emergency of Covid19 but the needs, the challenges as well as the enthusiasm of the participants are still the same.

For this reason, we collected feedback from participants of “Bridging Culture through Arts“, our pilot in Ancona, as a wish to restart soon to cook up a more open and inclusive world!


The video is in Italian, the language that non-native speakers were practicing to get social involved. It collects the self-made videos of some of the participants, the reasons why they decided to participate at our pilot activities, their wishes and their expectations.

What Bridging Culture Through Arts brought to the participants? In general, a shared need to meet each other and to participate in the project, which is extremely positive. A sense of belonging is starting to emerge, which makes the group more solid and easier to work with.

Nonetheless, some physiological dropouts were recorded, due to almost obvious resistances immediately perceived in some participants. Some persons have manifested a certain uneasiness in joining theatrical activities (perhaps because they feel very involved), while others have expressed a great interest in such experiences. The confidence that is emerging will facilitate the understanding of what is needed and what is not, thus facilitating the co-creation of cultural initiatives.

The group is expressing the need to have a space of their own, where to store and exhibit their works and to personalize according to their wishes. These are encouraging signs of the participants’ creative attitude and needs to affirm their identity in a way that was previously not perceived like that.

There is still a lot to do, but it seems that the pilot is giving its first results, repaying the participants of the efforts done so far.

A story from "Bridging Culture Through Arts" - centre of the scene

Image Theatre is one of the techniques adopted during the labs of Bridging Culture Through Arts pilot. It’s about a performance exercise in which people do not use words or signs, but use their bodies and objects to communicate an idea and emotion. In this technique one person acts as a sculptor and moulds other people as they were statues to describe a situation.

That day, participants were asked to carry an object with them and explain why they were attached to it. The image theatre was used to see if, and how, a physical object could change in meaning across different cultures and people.

F.a young woman from Bangladesh, brought a ring which she had received as a present from a dearest friend of her and explained to the group that the ring always reminded her of this extremely important person of her life. The ring was chosen by the group as the central element of the Image theatre performance, which was and composed of a three-scene narrative.

F.’s ring was placed in the centre of the room and M. (a Pakistani guy) started his mise-en-scène: in the first one, he put a girl sit in the middle of the room with a thick veil covering her face and making her not visible; in the second one, M. jumped himself into the scene putting the ring on the girl’s finger; and only in the third scene, M. could take away the veil and see the girl’s face. The two people could finally look at each other.

This representation told a lot about some of the Middle Eastern cultures and traditions. M. put himself into the scene manifesting his roots.

Moreover, the ring, that represented for F. a symbol of friendship between two women, was turned into a symbol of wedding by M. This is a fundamental characteristic of this kind of activity that lays the ground for a serene coexistence of several meanings without conflict.

A story from Bridging Culture Through Arts

When the participants had the opportunity to re-stage the scenes, D., an Italian girl, re-proposed the same situation of the first scene of M. But in the second scene the ring was put on the woman’s finger and her veil lifted, and D. worked on the expressions of the two sculptures giving them a mix of surprise and scare. In the last scene, the woman ran away and the man chased her.

At the completion of the last scene, the audience and the protagonists of the story burst into a thunderous laughter, transforming an extremely delicate moment into a sort of comedy about the wedding, in which different cultures could meet and, through the game, dialogue without feeling criticized or attacked. It was really impressive to realize that strong and rigid cultural traditions, as imposed weddings are, could be questioned and peacefully discussed through irony. 

Ancona pilot activity - Bridging Culture Through Arts

A multiethnic district, as many of our cities, where different and diverse cultures are co-living: how public entities and civil society organizations can support mutual understanding and social cohesion? How culture can bridge the gap?

Bridging Culture Through Arts brings together citizens (both migrants and autochthones) living in a neglected urban area characterized by high multi-ethnic variety. The idea is to create a cohesive group through art-based activities to help overcoming the difficulties in getting socially involved.

Who is involved in the activities?

COOSS manages services for migrants, among them asylum seekers and refugees under protection programs, and wants to develop the pilot in a multiethnic district of Jesi (Marche Region), involving people with different ethnicities. Presently, participants of the pilot come from Pakistan, Perù, Argentina, Ukraine, Brasil, Mali, Guinea, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Kosovo, China, USA, Romania, Germany, Cuba, Nigeria, Albania, Russia, Poland, Siria, Venezuela.

The close collaboration with public administrations, schools and integration centres, which are in contact with associations, was crucial to create the groups of work. In particular, it is worth mentioning the strong collaboration with: 

  • the Municipality of Jesi, which supported the pilot since the beginning, making available spaces where performing the pilot activities, ensuring an institutional framework for the project and facilitating the collaboration with the Municipal Library. The library was founded in 1859, and was named Planettiana in tribute to the Pianetti family, who donated its precious books collection to the Municipality. The archive contains a book heritage of over 150,000 volumes on local, regional and European history. The Library has a public reading section, with more than 50,000 volumes including periodicals and newspapers, a local section, a photo library and a special children’s section.
  • the Associazione Teatro Giovani Teatro Pirata (ATGTP),  a non-profit association whose long course professionals propose education theatre, social theatre, public training and theatre production for the young generations, with the purpose to exploit the potential of theatre techniques in the educational and social contexts.
  • the CPIA (Provincial Centre for Adult Education), which provides several didactic courses, among which Italian language courses for foreign adults, to help them to obtain officially recognized qualifications. The teacher of Italian language at the centre collaborates with the project, motivating her students to participate to our pilot and attending the coordination meetings herself. 

The activities are lead by a social pedagogist working in COOSS and specialized in groups dynamics and conflicts management. He proposes different techniques and activities in the course of the meetings with the working group, aimed at fostering interactions, enhancing dialogue, handling crises when emerging and understanding expectations and wishes. He reports activities and observations to the  coordination group, assuring the respect of the participants’ privacy. 

What do the activities consist of?

COOSS involves people in the co-creation of art-based activities, allowing participants to spontaneously share their cultural heritage and to properly approach the hosting country’s one.

The activities are a combination of different methods such as theatre labs, role playing activities, sharing of their own cultural heritage through the exchange of pictures and objects, cooking traditions or storytelling. The involvement of the participants is the result of a process to encourage emphatic adhesion to the activities: firstly, informal contacts, visits and meetings were carried out with the relevant parties to identify potential participants to create the pilot group; then, an initial public event made the project known and explained the reasons of the proposed activities.

After that, the concrete phase of workshops started with playful activities in a relaxed atmosphere and friendly relationships to create a cohesive group: theatre labs, role playing and other methods has been used to experiment the possibilities which can emerge from conflicting situations and how communication can help to solve diverging perspectives.

A glimpse into the future

Once participants have gained self-confidence and increased their language proficiency and communication capabilities, meetings will turn into co-creation opportunities, where the group will identify art-based activities and produce an output able to represent their experience.

The original idea was to create a final visual product to be presented to the whole citizenship in the form of a projection on a neighborhood building, then to be turned into a murales. A public event was planned to present the output, but the outbreak of Covid-19 emergency has impacted our programs forcing us to be ready to rethink the project activities.


Discover further details of the pilot on CultureLabs platform