Inception: Changing the Story

Mobile Arts for Peace began in 2018 as a a practice-as-research project supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of a larger project entitled Changing the Story: Building Inclusive Societies with and for Young People in Post-Conflict Countries

The aim of MAP in Rwanda was to work with young people, educators, cultural artists and civil society organisations to inform the National Curriculum Framework in Music, Dance and Drama in Rwanda. Championed by Dr. Eric Ndushabandi from the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) and Prof. Dr. Ananda Breed from the University of Lincoln, MAP worked alongside partners to design and deliver project activities.

MAP forms the Rwanda strand of the first Phase of our GCRF Network Plus project Changing the Story, of which Professor Ananda Breed (University of Lincoln) and Hope Azeda (Mashirika Creative and Performing Arts) are Co-Investigators. It is a collaborative project between universities, INGOs, artists, grassroots civil society organisations and young people across the world. Find out more about Changing the Story on their approaches and resources on their website.

This Phase One Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) project was supported by partners Mashirika Creative and Performing ArtsAegis TrustKwetu Film InstituteHope and Homes for Children, and University of Lincoln.

Phase One of MAP aimed to provide training for youth, educators and cultural artists; to support the design and delivery of Participatory Arts as a part of the national curriculum; and to collaborate with the project team to explore the challenges and successes of the use of Participatory Arts across the sector in Rwanda.

The project explored and evaluated the use of participatory arts through the adaptation of cultural forms for dialogic purposes with young people. In collaboration with the Rwandan Board of Education, the project supported the design and delivery of Participatory Arts as part of the national curriculum in Rwanda and, through its critical review stage, explored the challenges and successes of Participatory Arts across the sector.

This MAP pilot project worked in the Eastern Province of Rwanda with the Board of Education, cultural artists, educators and youth workers through a series of workshops including a training of trainers and youth camps. The design for MAP originated out of an earlier International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) project entitled Youth Theatre for Peace (YTP). Professor Ananda Breed  designed the YTP model in response to USAID’s request for people-to-people approaches that create opportunities for contact and exchange between adversarial groups.

In 2018, Breed trained 25 adult educators in the Eastern Province who trained an additional 68 adult educators in their schools, amounting to 93 adult educators trained in the MAP methodology. Additionally, Breed trained 10 youth facilitators who created MAP clubs in their schools. Each of the five drama clubs in the Eastern Province has a minimum of 50 members amounting to 250 members overall.

In 2019, MAP received AHRC Follow-on Funding to extend MAP through the Ubwuzu project. Breed extended MAP to 25 schools in five districts (Gicumbi, Rubavu, Huye, Rwamagana, Kicukiro) and all five provinces (Northern, Western, Southern, Eastern, Kigali) of Rwanda.

Theory of Change

MAP used the Theory of Change model  to plan project activities aiming for short-term, medium-term and long-term impacts.

During the initial scoping visit and curriculum development workshops (March 2018) participants learnt more about participatory and interdisciplinary (Drama, Dance, Music, Video) arts practices that can be adapted towards dialogic purposes.

The workshops and initial scoping visit informed the development of an arts-based curriculum to be delivered to participating educators and cultural artists within a training of trainers (June 2018). The intended long-term impact included the integration of participatory arts methodologies within the national curriculum and greater uptake of Performing Arts training in schools and Higher Education. Outputs from Phase One included a curriculum manual, cultural arts workshops and training of trainers, youth camp and dissemination event and the establishment of art clubs and/or arts-based elective within schools in the Eastern Province.

Critical Review

The critical review provided a practice-based exploration of participatory arts practice using the MAP project as a key indicator to capture the cultural specificity of the arts within the context of conflict/reconciliation practices working with young people in Rwanda. Country specific questions for the critical review process included:

  • How are cultural forms used within campaigns of nation building post-genocide?
  • How might cultural forms be adapted for dialogic purposes? What are some of the current practices in this regard?
  • How are participatory arts being used across the sector? What are some of the challenges and successes?
  • What terms need to be considered within this process? Kinyarwanda specific terminology?
  • What existing quantitative (and qualitative) data is available from existing IOs, CSOs, NGOs, etc?
  • What evaluative tools might work best within the MAP project? Youth based leadership within this area?

Evaluation activities included a scoping visit to inform activity development; baseline surveys before and after activities; focus groups and surveys; long-term tracking focus on students, teachers, partner groups and audiences.

Phase One MAP dissemination activities included a mobile filmmaking workshop, in partnership with Kwetu Film Institute (April 2019), Training of Trainers (July/August 2019), Youth Camp (November 2019), and a policy-informing event, hosted at the Institute for Research and Dialogue for Peace, addressing Arts-based Research for Education and Peacebuilding’ (August 2020).

Ubwuzu enabled the creation of a Cultural Artist Network and Youth Advisory Board to inform the design, delivery and implementation of MAP.