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The Art of Openness


Karolina Biedroń – actress, artist, and anti-discrimination educator from Gliwice as well as Fellow of the 2021 HIA Warsaw Fellowship/Academy of Human Rights – once counted that in her region of Silesia alone there are more than 400 community centers offering art, music and theatre workshops for youth. Each of these groups have an instructor that is not only responsible for leading the workshops, but is oftentimes a mentor to the teenagers. Working with youth is a huge responsibility, but also an opportunity to inspire change. Karolina realized however, that there are no courses that would prepare instructors to follow the guidelines of equality, respect and inclusion in their work.

The second problem she identified and experienced herself is a prevalence of violence and discrimination in Polish artistic environment. It usually starts at a workshop level, where instructors use verbal abuse under the excuse of preparing youngsters for the reality of art universities and the emotionally demanding nature of the job.

To counteract the abuse and to implement equality standards into cultural institutions, Karolina instantly thought of organizing workshops firsthand for art teachers, where they could learn how to make their classes more of an inclusive space.

Inspired by the 2021 HIA Warsaw Fellowship/Academy of Human Rights she was a part of this past June, she wants to recreate that spirit of openness and creativity in her community. In combining art, theatre or music workshops with teachings about equality and tolerance, Karolina wants to give voice to the teenagers, who can then use their art to communicate the issues they really care about.

She has put together an educational program consisting of 6 weekend meetings that will cover the subjects of human rights and social activism in art, foundations of anti-discrimination education, working with artists with disabilities, and nonviolent communication – all led by a diverse group of trainers from Karolina’s You Simply Can foundation.

After the educational component, the art teachers who participated in the series of workshops will organize artistic events with their groups of teenagers, using the knowledge and skills they acquired to give the youth the voice and tools necessary to express their views and feelings.

Karolina is already well advanced with the project, having received a grant to finance it and built a team, which is currently in contact with cultural centers in the region to recruit participants. They are ready to launch the workshops in January 2022. Fingers crossed!