Over the next three years, Art Beyond Belief will be coordinating a number of different projects, events and initiatives under the banner Fear Faith and Friendship
Some of these projects we will be developing and running ourselves – others will be run by partner organisations in partnership with us. Some will be simple one-off events, some will be discrete projects, others may lead to long-term partnerships and collaborations. Some will highlight projects and partnerships that are already up and running – others will be completely new initiatives. Projects will tend to work from the ground upwards - initiatives stemming from the desire of individuals to better understand the other, and to identify and challenge the barriers that divide people, communities and nations.
What all these initiatives will have in common is that they will involve moving from a state of fear towards one of trust and friendship
There are two cross-cutting themes to be explored during this programme:
Embedded codes of behaviour: We each have standard ways of behaving and thinking that we give no second thought to day-to-day. We inherit ways of thinking from our parents and families, and refine them through our cultures and communities, our faith groups and social networks. These embedded codes of behaviour are neither good not bad in themselves, but when they prevent us from being understanding towards others, or feeling empathy towards anyone who is different from us, we need to challenge the hold they have over us. When people step outside their embedded codes however, great things can happen, and this is often a two-stage process. Affected or inspired by one person’s willingness to step outside their normal boundaries or comfort zone, the person on the other side of an interaction may make a similar move outside of their own expected boundaries. Once two ‘sides’ have made this move, subsequent interactions are easier, and others can be influenced to make similar positive moves. We will examine examples of this ‘code-breaking’ in practice, and explore how entrenched and stereotyped negative codes of behaviour might be challenged.
The journey from Fear to Trust and so to Friendship: There are a number of different routes for the journey, and not all will be suitable for every person and every situation. Some of the routes that we expect these projects to examine are faith, conciliation and reconciliation, social interaction, education, Humanism, altruism and intuition, and critical thinking.
(A note about faith: Faith is not always a neutral or positive agent; it can be an excellent catalyst for change for the better, but it can also sometimes be part of the problem, and there are situations where faith and belief are entirely irrelevant).
The initiatives we are developing currently will see us working alongside partners in the UK, in Sweden and in Turkey. We ran a major collaboration with Slough Faith Partnership for Inter Faith Week 2013, involving discussion groups and an afternoon conference at Eton College.
Who Am I? sprang out of an event held at the Friends’ Meeting House in Reading as part of Inter-faith Week 2010. It was such a success that we wished we had filmed it; hence the replication at a day conference at Slough Grammar School. Described by "REtoday Magazine as '... powerful and thought-provoking ... highly recommended for the RE classroom'. The DVD set costs £20. To order, or for more information, please contact David Sparrow on 07412 974454 or by email to email@example.com.
Insight is a completely new style of interfaith training programme developed by Art Beyond Belief with funding from the Sir Halley Stewart Trust. The aim of Insight is to challenge preconceptions - of other faiths and cultures, of other people - and also of yourself - your faith and your culture. Insight is delivered in an engaging and challenging way, using innovative computer-based techniques to provoke thought, stimulate discussion in small groups. and encourage self-exploration. The programme is based on techniques developed during Art Monitor, a programme we created and delivered to a large number of groups over the past two years with life-changing results. It also calls on our experiences during Faith Junction - a programme during which ordinary people of faith interviewed each other on matters important to them and their faith. No previous computer knowledge is required in order to take part. For more details or to book, contact David Sparrow telephone 07412 974454 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Festival of Dialogue 2010 Conference took place in October at the Iqra School in Slough. During the evening, Maidenhead Interfaith Group launched their new international aid project, providing ongoing support for areas affected by the floods in Pakistan. We also received feedback from local interfaith initiatives around the Thames Valley area, and showcased events happening during Interfaith Week in November. Throughout the year, a toolkit has been available to groups or individuals wanting to explore the influences that society has on faith groups - and also the influences that faith groups have on society. The Toolkit comprises starting points, exercises and topics for discussion, and includes all the relevant templates needed.
During the first weekend in June 2010, I was privileged to show Art Beyond Belief's Via Dolorosa project to the Swedish Church at their Världens fest, a festival of mission, and much, much more. I had no idea the Svenska Kyrkan was so involved in so much of the cares of the world. The event was held in the city of Växjö, in the south of Sweden ...
We are working with children and young people with Asperger’s Syndrome and their family members to explore family life and relationships in our Rucksack programme - helping to provide a vocabulary for self expression and understanding through innovative use of computer-based art and graphics. Details from David Sparrow 07412 974454, email@example.com