Our second project report comes from Ukraine, courtesy of Olha Kotska and Anna Khvyl from Iota Initiative, as the Pidzamche Neighbourhood Festival gets underway…
Our group have been planning a community festival for early September in one of the districts of one of Lviv. In this particular district, there is not much going on, to say at least. And our approach is to launch festival preparations and provoke locals come and spend time together, making decorations, planning concerts and cooking food, and so on. The festival will act as a trigger. As we expected, it’s not that easy to get people join in with activities they don’t normally join in with – go to street concerts, send their children to a local art school, gather with neighbours for a talk. But we keep experimenting.
We entered the Pidzamche district together with culture studies students of the Lviv National University. With the help of our student coordinator Olha Kononchuk and historian Andriy Bondarenko, students prepared four thematic guided tours – Alternative, Industrial, Batiar (urban subculture in Lviv at the beginning of 20th century) and Sacral Pidzamche. Four pilot tours took place from May 13th till May 22nd. To test these on the public, we invited representatives of urban initiatives to join our trips. Currently students are working for the final versions of guided tours, which will be a part of the Pidzamche Neighbourhood Festival programme in August.
The first open event with locals was called “The Addresses of Our Memories”. Around 15 local people attended this meeting and we consider this a big success. It was two hour mapping game where people were drawing maps of their district by hands. We asked them to mark places special for them and to also add things which they would like to have. When talking about the past many participants were quite excited. Proudly telling how they worked at factories with over 3000 employees, how powerful these factories were, and how sad they are abandoned now. It was a story of many, since Pidzamche used to be home for a number of industrial giants. Besides, now we know many significant little stories – we can tell where Sophia had her dressed sewed in 1970’s, why Yosyp’s balcony is the nicest one, and which yard Anna’s grandparents planted a chestnut tree in.
To share our experience, it works better if you send personal SMS to every participant a few hours before the event, just to remind that you are waiting for them.
On June 21st, as a part of the International Music Day in Lviv, we organised three concerts at Pidzamche . So, this year Pidzamche for the first time celebrated this holiday with all of the world. It went well, even promised rain didn’t happen. And now we are much more skilled in facilitation of active children who are constantly trying to help you out by spreading leaflets, fixing the sound system or checking the microphone. Some of local children asked us if they could sing from the stage and we let them do it. So, we are one step deeper to our idea of promoting local talents.
During June 22th – June 30th, Iota Initiative together with an invited art teacher and animator Khrystyna Hertsyk held an art camp for children from Pidzamche. Though the children were enthusiastic about participating in the art camp, it was difficult to build credibility with their parents. Because not many people know us, it was not easy to demonstrate that our initiative has something interesting and different to offer. But then information spread by word of mouth and the group of 14 was formed. We are especially grateful to our art teacher who worked for more than a week on voluntary basis. Also, a local library supported us by providing space. During a short period of time, children created decorations for the Festival, designed the invitations for their parents and performed theatrical sketch about the old times in Pidzamche.
At the end of the art camp the children were performing on the street in front of their parents and curious passers-by.
So, now you know what we did this June. And we are moving forward.