As part of Seminar 2, practitioners based in Northern Ireland were invited to consider the assumptions that are brought to intercultural projects and how these become challenged or reinforced in practice. They were also asked to consider the challenges and opportunities for intercultural exchange that emerge in practice. What ideologies are we seeking to reaffirm? What are we seeking to challenge? How is this playing out in the ways that we have now come to ‘manage’ arts and culture?
Nisha Tandon, Founder and Executive Director, Arts Ekta, spoke of a project, Belfast Suitcase Stories. It was developed on the foundations of four years of previous work by ArtsEkta and a number of partners including Cara Friend, An Droichead, Belfast Islamic Centre and Northern Visions TV. The project brought together a group of the city’s younger and older citizens to explore and celebrate the great social diversity of Belfast. Over the course of several months, participants came together across a series of reflective artistic workshops to explore the nuances of their own identities, and where those identities fit into the new multicultural tapestry of the city, and its people. The physical legacy of the project was a multimedia and visual arts exhibition consisting of suitcases reimagined artistically to tell the individual stories of participants.