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Publication Meeting of Minds on Placemaking, Co-creation and Storytelling now available

11 Jul

Placemaking is about people, about living together, about a sense of belonging and carving spaces together, about co- creation and sharing stories. And it is crucial for society, especially now as it enters a new dimension in times of a global pandemic that affects us all. What will placemaking look like after COVID-19? What did we learn and what can we take with us to the future? How will we socialise, move from one place to another, (inter)act with and in public spaces after the pandemic?

These questions guided a series of four online sessions which were held between the 7th and 30th of April (2020), connecting placemaking with the future of cities, tourism, the arts, urban design and digital storytelling. Experts and other interested persons were brought together across borders to discuss possible ways forward by learning from good practices. The response was overwhelming, both from the speakers that were contacted to take part, and from the diverse participants eager to share and exchange ideas.

The discussions were rich, intense and generated much food for thought. This publication is the result of an inclusive thinking process with all participants, offering a reflective and critical lens on placemaking. It works as a toolkit, gathering the presentations and giving insight in the main topics and strong examples that emerged from the discussions. It also lists key points to consider whilst working with communities and involving people in a co-creation process. This series ends with a non-exhaustive reading list as there are many interesting papers, reports and links to learn from.

Thank you to all the speakers and participants, because without them there would have been no publication. A special thank you goes to Nika for helping Stefan and myself with proofreading.

We hope you will enjoy wandering through this publication and get inspired. You can access the publication here.

And you can have an impression of the meetings thanks to this nice feature by Maltarti.

Visitor Experience Design and Valletta Baroque Festival: paper in progress

8 Mar

If you would ask me to give a good example of what high level cultural tourism can be, then I would without any doubt share the experience we had with the two last 2 editions of the Valletta Baroque Festival housed at Teatru Manoel; Malta’s National Theatre.

It is an honour to have been able to take care of the pr, marketing and ‘customer care’ for this beautiful festival which was set up by Kenneth Zammit Tabona in 2013.  Its unique selling position is the fact that it can present the best (inter)national baroque artists and ensembles in the venues the music was composed for … as Malta breaths Baroque.

2019 was the first year in which the festival and the research department of the Malta Tourism Authority was able to set up a survey to get more insights about its audience. The first edition of the survey was used as a pilot for the 2020 edition. Interesting to see is that the indications given by the outcomes of pilot were strengthened by the 2020 survey.

These are a couple of outcomes from the recent survey: The festival has a high NPS (high quality concerts, beautiful venues) so visitors are very likely to recommend the festival to others, 63% of the audience comes from abroad, they stay in 4 to 5 star hotels, they attend 3 concerts or more and for 65% of them it is their main purpose to visit Malta. So when looking at the typography of the cultural tourist  they are purposeful visitors, seeing themselves as concert goers not as tourists.

As a marketing team we used already the insights of the first survey and the experience we had whilst observing as well as talking to the concert goers in 2019 to create a strategic integrated marketing plan for the festival.  Since experience is key, we knew we had to focus on the overall experience. So we used a visitor experience map, mapping all the touch points a concert goer ( being it international and local) has, to implement the pr and marketing strategy.

This will be the basis for a paper we (Experienced Design) and the research department of the Malta Tourism Authority are working on, so that we can share this interesting case study in a proper way … so stay tuned 😉

Our article ‘Collaborative Design Thinking (CoDeT: A Co-design Approach for High Child-to-adult Ratio” has been published!

28 Jun

Delighted and honoured to have been able to contribute as a co-autor to this paper, which presents the 

Collaborative Design Thinking (CoDeT) co-design approach, its theoretical framework, and its application in a case study with 49 children aged 9 to 10 in two schools.  

CoDeT can be applied  in co-design settings characterized by high child-to-adult ratios (ca.1 adult for 15 to 20 children), such as schools, museums and maker spaces. In these settings, children have to work relatively independent from adults who become guides on the side. This can be challenging due to children’s limited understanding of the design process and their lack of skills to collaborate productively towards a shared design goal. CoDeT addresses these challenges by integrating principles of Social Interdependence Theory (SIT) and Design Thinking (DT), which together form the theoretical backbone of the approach. CoDeT was first applied in a case study and yielded promising results in terms of children’s collaboration and design thinking skills, yet possible improvements were found. The insights of this case study informed the revised version of CoDeT presented at the end of the article, in a what-why-how structure, allowing researchers and practitioners to apply the co-design approach in a wide variety of contexts characterised by high child-to-adult ratios.

You can find the article here (full text free accessible and downloadable for 50 days). 

CoDeT outcomes can be interpreted with the GLID method; a multimodal approach for integrating verbal, material and other co-design outcomes in a structured and coherent analysis. For more information, see the IJHCS article “The GLID method: Moving from design features to underlying values in co-design”.

With Maarten Van Mechelen, Bieke Zamman, Bert Willems and Vero Vanden Abeele.

So glad to see this …

28 Apr

Screenshot 2019-04-28 at 09.21.13In 2017 I had the pleasure to work with the great team of the Erasmus Hogeschool (EhB)  – Department of Design and Technology  – in Brussels on a new curriculum called Digital Design & Development. Design Thinking is at its core. The course trains young people to become critical digital experience designers and is completely based on project-based learning, combining play, creativity, technology, human-centred design, societal challenges and art.  It is so nice to see now that this is actually happening and that the gender balance is getting in the right direction, because technology is not just a male thing 😉

Working towards a Design Action Plan

17 Apr

Honoured to be part of this process for the Valletta Design Cluster. It is a proper example of co-creation 😉

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More news in a couple of months…

This was 3 years of meeting point strand coordination at Valletta 2018 for me …

1 Jan

Instead of New Years resolutions, I like to look back a little as it inspires me to look forward. 3 years Meeting Point Strand (2016 – 2018) coordination at Valletta 2018 came to an end. It has been an intense, but rich experience.

November 2015 it was, when the question popped up to see what could be the programme of Valletta 2018‘s Meeting Point Strand, and to write a proposal. As the title hints it had to be a meeting place, a crossroad;  in short a strand that connected the dots between projects, disciplines, backgrounds and genres.

Some elements where already there, such as the collaboration with Roberto Cimetta Fund on a Mobility Grant to facilitate mobility within the Mediterranean region, or the joint programme with Fondazijoni Kreattività for the artist residencies in Gozo. The rest of the strand was still very open.

So what to take into account when curating the strand?  Important it seemed, was not just to connect the dots, but also to find sustainable ground for the programmes that would find their place within the strand. So instead of going for one-off project common interests between partners and disciplines were explored.

And thus liveability, sustainability, connectivity, common space, co-creation and interaction became natural keywords within the strand. It all gradually came along and fell into place. Although the outcomes where very divers, I felt there was a lot of commonality between all the projects that were part of my job as a strand coordinator.

All had a connection with community, co-creation and collaboration. Bridges where made – and some sustainable –  between education, design, science, health, urban development and the different art genres.

3 years,  8 residency programmes, 4 inservice trainings on creativity for teachers, 3 urban labs, 3 international workshops, 2 masterclasses, 50 incoming residencies, 3 outgoing residencies and a the monitoring of a mobility grant later I look back at it with gratefulness.

It were 3 exciting years with a lot of emotions, inspiring collaborations, encounters for life and never-to-forget experiences.

Take for instance all the memories that will stay linked with the artist residency in Gozo .  So many different project, so many different outcomes, so many connections with locals of all backgrounds and ages. Bringing in the selection criteria on working/connecting with the community and the local cultural scene has worked well. It was hard to choose between the many strong proposals we received. In total 27 projects took place and 38 artist from 14 different countries stayed in Gharb between the second half of 2016 and 2018. What we hoped for, also happened. Some of the residency projects became part of the Spazju Kreattiv or Valletta 2018 programme, thus with some of the artists we had a longer journey then just the weeks at the residence, but with most of the artists there is still a very good connection. The latter showed when we were setting up the exhibition ‘Not Just the City‘. The exhibition looks back at 3 years of collaboration and introduces the future, as Spazju Kreattiv is continuing with a residency programme on both Malta and Gozo. It was a pleasure to work with Justin and all of the Spazju Kreattiv team, as well as the wonderful regional coordinator for Gozo, Victoria. 

Or the AiR programme we were able to set up for almost 3 years at the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre, bringing art, health and wellbeing together in its own way. Art as a translator of emotions and as comforter along the cancer treatment journey. Pamela Baldacchino, through the Deep Shelter Project developed a strong and divers artist in residence programme including sensory workshops, an international residency, creation of on-site artworks with artists, managing the numerous donations, refurbishing the multi-fate and the interviewing room, organising concerts, readings, … It also resulted in a lot of interesting research, ready to be disclosed. I hope Pam will be able to continue with all this for a long time ;-).

Art and Science where bridged through a one year collaboration with the newly opened Science centre Esplora, including an international residency for 2 months, a masterclass and an inset for teachers all related one way or another to storytelling. The international residency concluded in an educational animation on indigenous plants (plantarium) and was a close collaboration between the artist and the educational team of the centre … that not just used their scientific, but also their musical skills.

But the strand did not just consist of  residencies. It included also workshops, trainings, meet and greets and inset sessions for teachers.  From year one, my colleague of the education strand, Angele and I started with a series of workshops for teachers introducing the use of art and creativity in the classroom as part of the inservice programme of the Ministry. The first one used ‘comics’ and took place at the residency in Gozo, the second one focused on creativity as such and the third one used games. For the latter we were lucky to be able to work together with ILearn at the Ministry of Education.

A special one in the series of international workshops was Design4DCity’.  The idea to work on interdisciplinary workshops and labs based on co-creation and urban design emerged from discussions with Caldon, the project manager of the Valletta Design Cluster. Since Valletta and in fact the whole of Malta is changing fast challenges on liveability and wellbeing appear. We wanted to support this discussion in an interactive and co-creative way, involving the residents on urban development on new, common space.

kafel-z-wro-do-valletty-97250The first workshop took place in Valletta and was the start of a collaboration for the next 2 international workshops with 72Hrs Urban Action. The workshops and labs that took place in the next two years left the city, and explored areas at Birżebbuġa and Siġġiewi. Collaborations with other partners international such as AiRWro for an international residency/exchange, and local show that there is fertile ground for co-creation and co-reflection with residents to define public spaces. We noticed that these 3 years developed some fertile ground to continue the dialogue and the interaction. Design4Dcity is now part of the Valletta Design Cluster, the work has just begun 😉 I’m curious to see how it will develop further…

Last but not least the strand was among others also able to support a residency at Zfin Malta,  Fragmenta Malta and Rima, as well as the masterclasses within the Monteverdi project, a long-term training programme for young Maltese singers.

In sum I could conclude by saying that this could only work thanks to collaborations and connections. To me it was a wonderful experience. It also showed that curation works best when one works together and when one trusts each other. Therefore I thank Valletta 2018 Foundation for trusting me with this, and all artists, colleagues and partners involved, it was a wonderful ride.

Im planning to write an impact paper on this …

Exchange in Time as part The Island Indoors – notes and outcomes

2 Sep

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A 2-day intensive discussion on art and art education on 27-28 August 2018, hosted by the School of Art in Valletta. Exchange between Flanders and Malta as part of the exhibition project ‘The Island Indoors” (supported by Arts Council Malta through the Cultural Export Fund and 252cc, and endorsed by Valletta 2018). Bringing together 2 art teachers and their (ex)-students.

The notes and outcomes can be found here. Some of the topics will be further developed at the Meet and Greet session on the 10th of November in Ekeren … and hopefully also later on in Malta 😉

25 years later

14 Jan

No New Year’s Resolution. Just a short reflection.

Recently I came across the poster promoting Antwerp 93. The tagline for the year questioned whether art can safe the world. Well it might not be able to safe the world, but it does make the world a better place. Over the past years I learned that one can make small differences through art and culture, so yes we can never have enough of it.

Honestly, it was not a coincidence bumping into that poster. Next week Valletta 2018 European Cultural Capital will kick off and exactly 25 years ago I had the pleasure to be part of Antwerp 1993 European Capital of Culture. Back then I just graduated and was one of the guides leading guests and visitors through the city and through all exhibitions related to the cultural capital year. It was an amazing year for a fresh graduate, as I had the opportunity to discover Antwerp’s cultural institutions on all levels. It was also the start of an art-full career. Since then I can be only grateful for what happened on my professional path.

When I left Belgium in 2015 I could not have imagined that I would again be working on an international inspiring level connecting with artist worldwide, since apart from other things, I’m again involved in a European Cultural Capital adventure. I’m honoured to be able to develop together with fantastic colleagues an artist in residence programme for Valletta 2018 that wanders towards expected and unexpected paths, connecting all art forms, science, education and health. The journey started two years ago and I hope it will leave something sustainable after the 2018.

Ready to roll and continue the story.

I wish you all an inspiring 2018 !!!

 

Challenging Times

3 Dec

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During the parallel session Challenging Times of the Valletta 2018 conference Living Cities, Liveable Spaces: Placemaking & Identity, Colleagues Pamela Baldacchino and Dr. Benna Chase gave insight of our ongoing research linked with the Deep Shelter Project at the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre. Honoured to be part of this research.

Together with the other presentations during that session, it was an inspiring and rich morning at the conference. Thanks go also to Prof. Franco Bianchini for moderating it so well and to the conference committee for bringing such interesting papers together in this session.

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open call Artist Residency at the Oncology Centre in San Gwann

19 Aug

Open Call SAMOC

Very pleased to announce that as part of the 3 year residency programme Deep Shelter Project taking place at the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre (SAMOC), the Valletta 2018 Foundation now launched a call for an immersive Artist-in-Residence experience.

The residency will take place at the centre between January 2018 and February 2018 and will run for 6 weeks.

It will be a unique experience giving you the opportunity to work with passionate professionals.

The successful artist will create a site-specific work for the Oncology Centre and will work closely with project coordinator and artist in residence Pamela Baldacchino, as well as Dr Benna Chase, Principal Psychologist at SAMOc

The call is open until 14 September 2017.

More information on the residency and the way to apply can be found here