In the middle of the second rural tour planned in the frame of the project some precious thoughts from the project's protagonist in Lithuania: the five fabulous local promoters!
Eglė Baltranaitė (Neringa)
Learning: Travel to the UK and sharing of good practices by project partners
When we joined the project with local promoters, everything seemed interesting, but we didn’t know how it all works. It became clearer after visiting UK and especially – those small communities, churches and other places, seeing how people plan, prepare and attend cultural events. What was fascinating, that full halls were gathering! It seemed unreal to us. Community members in UK have a commitment to cover a certain amount of event costs. Thus, they often sell coffee, tea, biscuits and a variety of handicrafts before the show to gather money. So far, this seems to be difficult for us to implement.
While being there, we were visited by the feeling that we, the representatives of the local community, could become organizers of cultural programs ourselves. We are allowed to choose from the offered events, participate as if in an auction where you buy a performance, get all the necessary information about it and decide accordingly whether this event is suitable for your own community.
The meeting with representatives of other countries was very useful because we saw real people and listened to their real experiences. This allowed us to realize that this system, which has been around for a very long time, works great even in the smallest communities! Thus, we have believed in this project, and since then we have been actively involved in it in our own local area and we want it to last for many more years.
Violeta Astrauskienė (Švėkšna)
The voice of the community: How the community itself can contribute to the choice of project content and the mission of the community’s educational
There is no cultural center in the town I represent, but we have an active cultural and educational environment that has been operating for 20 years already. I often ask myself: how much culture is in our cultural activities? Since we do not have culture house or a venue with theatre hall, we are always looking for alternative spaces, which often become a school, a craft center, a park or a church. And of course, as we are not professionals of the field, we are constantly considering what we can show to our community.
I am very happy to be invited to this project, to have the opportunity to grow together with my community. While participating in the project, my main task is to arrange the venue and to invite the audience. I always feel infinite responsibility and anxiety, but after all goes well, the stone rolls from the heart and I feel immense satisfaction.
It happens that the people of the community pleasantly surprise me. For example, when Linas Zube Puppet theater was showing its performance - a full hall has gathered! And when Šeiko dance theater performed, people were so touched that even cried. But other emotions are also close. When mono performance by Youth Theater was shown, I even felt embarrassed, when our people, not accustomed to such kind of close to audience performances, started to talk to the actor, advise him, almost climbed on stage to help him! But thanks to such projects as SPARSE we all grow, improve, learn to communicate and recognize professional art.
Aida Mikutienė (Laukžemė)
Community involvement: How can the local community itself be involved in this project? How to combine community participation in cultural activities with the dissemination of professional art in the same community?
I only see the benefits of participating in this project! One of the key engagements is the involvement of professional artists in the community. The project allows us (ourselves) to choose performances or concerts, their date, time, thus adapting to the needs of our community and activities. Most our own activities are already repetitious for people, so professional culture coming to our area encourages them to find interest in socializing again. Local people willingly attend the performances, get to know the actors, and in this way can feel that the art is not so far away from them. Often our options are limited, so when we can call a professional here - it's a big advantage for us. It’s a real joy to be able to show it all to ordinary people and see the viewer and the whole community grow along with the culture.
Nijolė Dovidauskienė (Rietavas)
Education and community: How can educational institutions serve by involving the community in this project?
We are trying to implement this project through a gymnasium. Our community is quite large - about 1,500 people. Since we also have disadvantaged families, certainly not everyone can come to a paid event. Therefore, this project is very effective in the educational community. We talk, discuss, negotiate what would we like to see. Everyone was curious about dance theater. We showed a dance performance that talks about family, loneliness. One member of our community after the performance said: I didn’t understand anything, but it was so beautiful that I cried. Hence, our goal is achieved if beauty affects the heart. Showing performances is a great opportunity to unite the community. It’s a really noteworthy project where through the professional theater, we can interact with our own people.
Virgina Asnauskienė (Dreverna)
Future perspectives: What is the need for such a project for the community? What benefits to your community can you identify from this project?
I believe that a bright and hopeful future awaits us. It may be that the form offered by SPARSE project may be the only way for smaller communities to 'meet' professional art. Despite the fact that we still have houses of culture in small towns or villages, representatives of professional art are very rare guests here. They can be invited only to traditional celebrations or other community gatherings and only if the cultural organizer has a good taste. We can see the benefits of the project in the simplest way – if the audience hears and takes the opportunity to come to the event with the whole family, then we have already hit the top ten. Sure, we can do surveys, but the best appreciation and encouragement is a human smile. Thanks to the project, we have the opportunity to communicate with performers, actors, engage in educational activities or creative workshops. I hope that in the future we will be able to invite professional educators for short-term or long-term activities.