In early January, CCSE’s Deputy Director, Professor David McGillivray, was invited to the Olympic capital, Lausanne, to present his work as part of an Event, Cities and Urbanism conference hosted by the University of Lausanne.
The conference was held alongside the Youth Winter Olympic Games which also took place in Lausanne earlier in the month. Along with his co-investigator, Dr Andrew Smith, from University of Westminster, David presented a paper titled “The Long Term Implications of Mega Events for the Provision of Accessible Public Space”. This paper draws on the research Prof McGillivray and Dr Smith have been conducting as part of the HERA-funded FESTSPACE project.
They argued that major and mega sport events act as Trojan Horses; introducing new conditions and policies to host destinations which endure long after the event has moved on. Secondly, they suggested that hosting major and mega events in urban public space normalises these as venues, leading to greater interest from event organisers and city authorities to use them in the future.
To follow our ongoing research into festivals, events and public space, follow us on twitter @festspace1 or via the project website.
CCSE’s Colombian PhD student and associate researcher, Greis Cifuentes has – at the age of 31 – been chosen as the new Development Director for the Fundación Nacional Batuta (FNB) in Colombia. Batuta has a presence in all 32 of the country’s administrative departamentos. FNB serves more than 38,000 children and young people from vulnerable populations providing first-rate musical training which focuses on collective practice from a perspective of social inclusion, rights and cultural diversity. Participation in FNB programmes provides an outlet for creative energies, distraction from challenges arising from surrounding societal difficulties and the constructive development of skills in music alongside complementary improvement of abilities in social engagement. Ultimately, involvement with FNB contributes to improved quality of life for its beneficiaries and their families.
To date, Greis’s professional and academic trajectory has been hugely impressive. Prior to her FNB appointment, she could already boast an outstanding career in the cultural and educational sector working in the public sector and international organisations such as the Fulbright Commission in Germany and Colombia, the Colombian Ministry of Culture and the Colombian Consulate in New York.
Among the challenges of this new position, the diversification funding sources for the Foundation and expanding its coverage and the number of beneficiaries participating in FNB activities are priorities. In addition, in her new role, Greis will need to guarantee the continuity of Batuta’s most significant projects across the country.
Greis firmly believes in the transformative power of music and the methodology used by Batuta as a tool for strengthening social capital. The FNB’s pedagogical model promotes peaceful conflict resolution approaches among its beneficiary groups, utilising dialogue as a vital element of the effort to assist participants’ integral development and to strengthen the bonds between children taking part in FNB programmes; a process which, in turn, encourages them to expand their social networks.
As principle investigator for the Anti-Slavery Knowledge Network funded project Hidden Histories: the untold stories of Slavery and James Town, I have spent a good deal of time in Ghana over the last twelve months.
I have been traveling to, and working in, Ghana for nearly twenty years engaging in various applied theatre programmes (often with project partner the James Town Community Theatre Centre), researching the 2005 copyright law and eating kenke and hot sauce. This project has afforded me the opportunity to engage with the place and the project partners in James Town in a much more sustained way.
The project is a hard one; the focus – modern slavery – is disturbing on many levels and there are plenty of testimonies that we have heard that have been deeply affecting. The organised and sophisticated abuse of children and vulnerable adults and the normalising of exploitation and death is, obviously, awful. What is worse, if anything can be, is the denial that the situation even exists.
Over the course of the year, the project has enabled us to gather multiple testimonies, turn them in to a performance and show it to young people in the community and local schools. Consequently, we have been able to develop a discussion that did not really exist before at the community level and we have seen future community leaders engaging with the issues of modern slavery in James Town.