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Rules for Handling Normals | Civic Europe
Social inclusion, Using artistic methods of forum theater to teach a

Rules for Handling Normals

Fighting prejudice and stigma against young people from vulnerable and marginalized groups


Who is behind this?

Suzana Vargović

Udruga za rad s mladima Breza/Youth Association Breza


Who is joining forces?

Bacači Sjenki/ Shadow Casters


Shadow Casters are an art platform for interdisciplinary collaboration and creativity that intertwines international collaboration, theater, urbanism, activism, pedagogical work and video art.


Idea pitch

Therapeutic community Breza for minors without proper parental care offers organized housing with comprehensive support. But what happens once they leave the safety of the village estate troubles us. They are without proper support from the families, facing prejudices and stigma from society, and living in a poor, mostly rural area. We will tackle the social side of the issue with an intention to explore, challenge and change it through performative, participatory art and co-creation.

Where will your project idea take place?

Rural Eastern Slavonia, Croatia: city of Osijek (80000 inhab.) and village Čepinski Martinci (700).

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The main challenge is to initiate grass rooted initiative with group of youth without parental care and their peers through art and co-creation in small village. We want to give a chance to young people a chance to express themselves and to use art and creation to raise awareness of their community and neighbouring town of their problems. We want use art as medium for both raising awareness on stigma and societal problems, but as well for practicing democracy. Through creating a unique performance we want to create a safe environment for expression, exploring different perspectives of the same problem, share personal narratives and take responsibility during the creative work. Democracy starts from healthy individual and his/hers ability to freely create and develop; this is our aim.

Who are you doing it for?

The main target groups are young people from foster families and social system, because they are facing stigma in our society, but also a lot of different problems like unemployment and lack of possibilities to participate in active citizenship activities. Since the other local youngsters are also facing problems of unemployment and poverty, we want to mix these groups and work on social inclusion and cohesion between them while teaching them all how to be more active and how to participate in civic and democracy process. They are all coming from different backgrounds, but are facing similar problems.
On the other hand, we will include all the local stakeholders in the debate about social inclusion and stigma and civic participation of youngsters.

How do you plan to get there?

We tend to initiate a meaningful art participation for youth from foster families and those from the “normal” ones. The first phase would be to collect stories and to explore problems from different angels. The artistic process will be built on personal stories of the participants, guided by artist. After the participants agree on a unique story the process will immerse in creating a specific art piece. The performance will be played in Osijek and Zagreb (capital. After each performance World Café discussions involving main stakeholders on local and national level: line ministry, local and regional government, civil society, social welfare and youth council representatives. Discussions would involve themes related to problems of foster children, their integration and feedback on the play.

What are the expected results?

Local community will be socially aware of the problems of young people from vulnerable groups and will have more understanding for their needs.
We will create a social cohesion between average young persons and youngsters from vulnerable groups.
All the young people who will participate in the workshops will develop different kinds of competences - civic and active participation; communication skills; artistic skills; critical thinking; problem solving - and they will work on their own self esteem.
Our biggest success would be if the young people became more active in their local community and able to create their own context of social and cultural life in their town.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

The project will empower young people to explore and change their socially adverse circumstances. With mentorship of professional artists in developing a performance, they will be able to understand their own positions and fears better but also, increase understanding, and decrease stigma locally. Further, through public discussion with local community, politicians, opinion makers, employers, they will learn strategies for political influencing and gain tools for active citizenship.
The artistic and fun dimension of the project will create social cohesion between participants, which will further enable a reduction of existing stigma and an increase in a sense of solidarity and tolerance among them.

Why is this idea important to you?

Our main motivation for this project is removing the stigma from our users (youth without adequate parental care and with behavioral problems) in our local community. Working with them for 19 years we are aware of all of their problems and needs and we want to work on their social inclusion. On the other hand, we want to connect them with other youth from our region in order to share their experience and see that they are all similar, with their own problems and needs. We want to teach all of them how to be more active in local community and to be more independent, ready to fight for their needs and ready to be heard.

€ 38000,-

Total budget

€ 38000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Human recourse - 15.000,00 EUR
Travel, accommodation and per diem allowances - 8.000,00 EUR
Organizational costs (technical-logistical support, didactic materials, food and refreshments) - 6.000,00 EUR
technical equipment - 4.000,00 EUR
Promotion - 3.000,00 EUR
Office expenses - 2.000,00 EUR

TOTAL: 38.000,00 EUR




Marija Georgiev

Idea created on May 27, 2020
Last edit on May 27, 2020

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