Over the years Pan's expertise in arts for social change techniques has been called upon to assist in the development and support of specific disadvantaged groups or to address a particular issue in society. Projects have developed through strong links with partners such as Freedom from Torture, Medaille Trust, Refugee Council, British Council, the UN or by invitation from organisations such as The Metropolitan Police and Youth Offending Services.
We now deliver three main strands of work:
- a Refugee Arts Programme
- an Arts Against Violence Programme
- an International Theatre for Development Programme
Within these strands different projects run throughout the year using a range of art forms and providing participants with creative activity, peer mentoring and leadership training, and a number of community performances and showcases. Participants also benefit from stability, new friends and a chance to re-imagine their lives.
Our Refugee Arts Programme began through a relationship with Freedom from Torture who recognised that our creative programme could complement the therapy they provided to young refugee and asylum seekers who have experienced trauma and persecution in their own countries. The programme soon grew to meet the demands of participants and grants from BBC Children in Need, Heritage Lottery, Comic Relief and Arts Council England have enabled us to establish a programme of creative development spanning the age ranges 14 - 25 years, within which are the following groups:
In 1998 Pan began a new area of intercultural work in its home borough of Camden. Working with the Camden Equalities Unit it designed 'Keep the Peace', a project created to engage with the growing problem of race-based violence on housing estates in South Camden.
In these areas tensions between different ethnic groups was leading to anti-social behaviour and crime, particularly amongst young people, creating a sense of fear amongst the community.
Through participatory arts activities using creativity to investigate social issues such as racism and prejudice, young people were empowered to gain a voice to examine and explore their situation, their possibilities and their futures.
By providing a safe space where they could take time out from the pressures of their lives they reflected on their actions and consequences.
One of the biggest barriers the programme tackled was the sense of territorialism between different groups of young people, using creativity to organically bring groups together in a neutral venue to share performances and to open positive debate on issues raised.
Sadly over the years there has been a proliferation of reported cases of youth crime, increasingly more violent, which has escalated feelings of fear and a negative perception of today's youth.
As a response Pan's Arts Against Violence programme has expanded across Greater London using a similar model to the initial project in Camden.
Past projects such as F.U.R.I.O.U.S and 'There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack' engaged over 3000 young people, working in conjunction with youth centres and schools across London, resulting in DVDs, publications and sell out showcases of young people's creative reflections of growing up in London.
When we began our International Theatre for Development work some 20 years ago, we battled for money and opportunities and the work was small scale and pioneering, beginning with the establishment of the Vidya theatre company in India. Over the years recognition of the value of this work has increased demand and we are now at a stage where we have been contacted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Nations, The British Council and Save the Children to start substantial projects for them. Such organisations now see the potential of theatre to engage with social problems or post-disaster situations and initiate discussion with affected communities to find solutions and "alternative futures".
The two largest recent projects have been in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, both engaging with major social problems after traumatic events, and leading to the formation of several ongoing theatre for development companies.