Workshop participants lead the way at international inclusion in the arts event


People in King’s Lynn town centre were treated to street performances by dancers and actors from Italy, Spain, France and right here in Norfolk last Friday night. 

The event was organised in collaboration with the Ijshaamanka association based in Italy, which focuses on community, art, innovation and inclusion.

It was the culmination of a two-year collaboration called DAN.THE, which looked at how different organisations create dance and drama work that’s inclusive. The project was funded by Agenzia Nazionale Giovani of the European Commission and Arts Council England.

The groups involved work with a range of people. From asylum seekers and refugees to those with physical or neurological diversities and people from different social economic backgrounds.

The event started outside The Workshop. Some of our young class participants then led audiences to historic sites including Greyfriars Tower, King’s Lynn Minster and the Customs House for more performances. Footage created to complement each piece was also projected onto the side of the buildings.

Carrie Mansfield is executive producer of The Garage Trust, which runs The Workshop. She said: “We’ve been working with Monia Mattioli, artistic director of Ijshaamanka, since 2019, when we collaborated on the DAN.ce AcCEssibility Inclusion (DAN.CE IN) project.

“Over the past two years we’ve visited each other’s countries, looking and learning how we can create work that’s truly for everyone, and how it can improve lives. Inviting all our partners to King’s Lynn for this event has been really exciting.

“We had a lot of fun adapting dance / theatre street pieces that were performed at Italy’s Alter-Art Festival earlier this year. Our young participants, who led the performance procession, had a wonderful time.”

Monia added the project had been a great experience for the organisers and performers. She said: “In creativity, there are no limits – which is why the topic of inclusion was especially important for us. It was about cohesion, accessibility, self-confidence and using the performing arts to teach the younger generation how to understand inclusion can make the place we live better.

“Some of the partners focus on different work – one more in theatre, another in music, one in dance. It was also an opportunity for the performers to grow and amplify their professionality. We loved visiting King’s Lynn; it was a great experience.”

Cllr Graham Middleton is Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Business, Culture and Heritage at the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk.

He said: “Seeing these internationally renowned artists come to perform on the streets of King’s Lynn is a real coup for the town. They come with a powerful message about sustainability, social inclusion and how to have a positive impact on the local community.”

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