About us

Preview of short film for Indra Congress made by Rory Kane.  Please see:

Once upon a time the god Indra made a large net to cover the whole world. Each point of intersection consisted of a beautiful, precious pearl. None of the pearls existed by themselves except as a reflection of each other and of all the pearls in the net. In turn the whole net relied on each individual pearl for its existence.


The Mission of the Indra Congress

The mission of the Indra Congress is to make available to young people from fractured communities and settings of personal and social conflict art forms through which they can express their needs and ambitions for equitable and just human relations.

We aim to provide a network of safe, creative spaces in which young people can share stories, give expression to their thoughts, feelings and aspirations and explore strategies for dealing peacefully and effectively with challenging situations in their lives and communities. 

Our vision is to use the language of the arts to promote empathy and to connect young people to their peers elsewhere in the world. They can thereby learn more about themselves from each other and build relationships across boundaries.  From this experience they may become makers of change in their own communities and advocates for justice in civil society.



Background and company history

2003 Desmond Tutu gives his personal backing to the idea of ARROW (Art: A Resource for Reconciliation Over the World).
2004 Launching Conference, Making it Happen at University College Plymouth StMark and St John (UCP Marjon)
2004 Picture Perfect, a week long summer school for young people in Plymouthand Burnley.
2004 DFID (Department for International Development) funded project, What’s it got to do with me? linking young people in  schools in the UK with their peers in S. Africa, Palestine and Kosovo.
2006 South African tour to UK and interview with Desmond Tutu.
2006 Opening of the Desmond Tutu Centre at UCP Marjon, special guests Ishmaeland Abla Khatib from Jenin, Palestine.
2007 Palestinian student Mirna Saklheh receives a scholarship from Marjon to takedrama degree at UCP Marjon.
2008 ARROW hosts Al Harah Theatre’s Born in Bethlehem at Desmond TutuCentre, Plymouth.
2009 UK Congress and Symposium, The Citizen Artist in a Fractured World.
2009/10 ARROW is twice shortlisted for THE (Times Higher Education)Higher Education awards.
2010 First ARROW Global Congress at Desmond Tutu Centre, Plymouth.
2010 David Oddie leaves UCP Marjon and ARROW is re-launched as The Indra Congress Community Interest Company.
2012 Anna Lindh Foundation funded The Art of Cooling Conflict with young people
in Derry and Palestine.
2013 The Derry Indra Global Congress.
2014 Exchange project between South Africa and India
2015 The Plymouth Indra Global Congress
2016 The Bethlehem Indra Global Congress
2018 The South Africa Indra GlobalCongress

Aspirations for practice

We aspire to:

  • provide an ongoing cycle of Indra Congress events, bringing young people, artists, educators and others together from all over the world to present and share their stories and the creative and committed work they do in their own communities
  • provide a package of courses and training programmes for working creatively with conflict in diverse contexts
  • work with partners in HE and elsewhere to build up a body of evidence for the efficacy of this work.

Work with young people and education. 

A major focus of Congress activity is with young people.  Our aim is to work with groups of young people that:

  • wish to form and develop an Indra Congress group/centre
  • may already exist as a youth group but who wish to undertake specific Indra projects.

The groups could be within a school, university, youth theatre, club or other setting.  The groups may be anywhere in the world and will subscribe to the values and aspirations of the Mission Statement.  Congress groups will seek to:

  1. undertake peer led projects in their own community contexts that they then share with other Congress groups through social media and live Congress events at both regional and international levels
  2. undertake shared exercises and projects with other Indra groups,  both virtual and live
  3. undertake skills and awareness training in the creative arts, facilitation, group work and communication, mediation, anti-racist training and IT.


The Indra Congress:  Collaborators and partners

In the UK

Burnley Youth Theatre. (BYB)

Burnley Youth Theatre is a community arts organisation based at their purpose built venue, Burnley Arts Centre. Burnley Youth Theatre offers drama and arts activities and opportunities for children and young people ages 0 – 25 and their families. BYB was the first UK centre for the original ARROW/Indra programme in 2004 and has maintained engagement ever since. An Indra group meets regularly. BYT Indra is also linked with Marsden Heights Community College, Nelson.


Director: Karen Metcalfe:    Karen.metcalfe@burnleyyouththeatre.org

Indra leader:  Ollie Daley:  Olliedaley@burnleyyouththeatre.org

Phone: 01282 427767

Marsden Heights: Mushaq Hussain OBE:   mhussain@marsdenheights.lancs.sch.uk


Gorse Hill Studios

Stretford, Greater Manchester

Gorse Hill Hill Studios is a youth and community arts organisation based in south Manchester, established over 15 years ago and part of Trafford Youth service. Offering a range of arts led youth and community projects, activities and services all designed to builds on existing strengths and successes. Gorse Hill Studios aims to be a vibrant, creative, cultural youth and community arts hub serving the needs and aspirations of the whole community.  Our building provides a safe place for young people to socialise, learn, share and develop new skills


Caroline Gleaves

Telephone:   0161 912 5251   07979 020218   0161 866 8356

E-mail: carolinegleaves@gorsehillstudios.co.uk

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/GorseHillStudiosCC

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GHStudiosCC

Indra coordinator: Rianna Lynch: Ryanna.Lynch@gorsehillstudioes.co.uk


Touchstones Art Centre and Museum Rochdale

Rochdale, Touchstones is a gallery and museum leading on socially engaged practice through their Arts Council funded Contemporary Forward programme. Touchstones works at the heart of their communities through partnerships with the youth service, Rochdale Council and Rochdale Boroughwide Housing. Rochdale is a gateway community with one of the most diverse populations in greater Manchester.  Touchstones also has links with the town’s Youth Parliament.

Contact:  Lisa O’Neill-Rogan

Touchstones tel:  01706 984753

e-mail: touchstones@link4life.org

Indra facilitator:  Amber Tither: ambertither.freelance@gmail.com



First Act Youth theatre

First Act Youth Theatre’s vision is to engage young people through theatre across religious divides to improve community relations and encourage a “Culture of Tolerance”. Northern Ireland is still highly segregated with 95% of children attending schools segregated by religion; 80% of social housing is also segregated. This means that the need for a shared space in our city where the young people can come together and share their experiences/fears and aspirations through the medium of Art is crucially important.   Members of First Act Youth Theatre are from both sides of the community in Derry/Londonderry and would never have had the courage or confidence to venture into each others ‘territory’. First Act Theatre have a strong emphasis on language and communication. We believe that it is through dialogue that differences might be resolved. We are keen to facilitate an environment where young people can openly discuss the impact of the past on their lives and their hopes for the future in a “safe space” through theatre.

The Indra group within the youth theatre meets regularly.


Mary Duddy

E-mail: maryduddy1@hotmail.co.uk

Phone: 07821 070042

Sinead Devine

E-mail: sineadmpdevine@gmail.com


University of Ulster:  Dr Matt Jennings

Dr Matt Jennings teaches theatre in in the school of arts and humanities, with a special interest in theatre and conflict transformation.  He is a member of the research team for the Arts for Reconciliation research programme and has been involved with Indra since 2008.

Matt Jennings: E-mail: mj.jennings@ulster.ac.uk



The Plymouth group have played a pivotal role in the development of the programme since they hosted the first ARROW /Indra congress event in Plymouth in 2010. Since then they have undertaken a series of challenging projects and activities addressing key issues within Plymouth city and the wider region. They hosted the 2015 Congress in Plymouth. The group is currently negotiating a new base in the city and are looking forward to a new, exciting stage in their work in Plymouth and continuing their connections to the wider, global Indra network.


Alix Harris

E-mail: alixharris89@gmail.com

Phone: 07450011087


Launceston, Cornwall

Access is a new collaborator with the Indra network.  Access Theatre encourages and supports individuals with disabilities to celebrate and explore their skills within performing arts. Access Theatre runs exciting projects, enabling the company to devise and perform high-quality pieces and be supported to take advantage of opportunities with other professional companies. Access Theatre is important to all its members and has developed confidence and skills that are transferable to day to day life.

The work of Access to enhance the profile and visibility of disabled people is all the more important in the light of statistics that show disability hate crime has risen in the UK by more than 33% over the past year with over 5,000 recorded hate crimes against disabled people.

E – mail: info@accesstheatre.co.uk



Falmouth University, Cornwall

Mark Laville was Artistic Director of the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth for 27 years.  Mark left the Barbican to co-ordinate the new BA (Hons) Theatre & Performance course at Falmouth University as a Senior Lecturer. In his role at the Academy of Music and Theatre Arts (AMATA) Mark delivers core curriculum content in contextual theatre studies, practical actor training workshops and student productions.  Mark aspires to create exciting collaborations between the university and Indra.



Global Indra:

South Africa

ARROWSA is an independent NGO which has arisen from the international ARROW programme and was initiated by Mary Lange. ARROWSA has an expansive array of ARROW/Indra projects. Twice weekly arts meetings are held at Bechet High Sydenham. Research projects have arisen in association with the CCMS, UKZN -Educational programmes and Applied Storytelling in association with the Durban Local History Museums, and other museums. ARROWSA runs educational programmes in association with The Palmiet Nature Reserve, Westville. Durban. Rock engraving recording projects – e.g.National Heritage Council funded project in collaboration with CCMS, UKZN, an annual Intercultural exchange exhibition in collaboration with DUT jewellery students. In addition there are national intercultural exchange trips in association with members of the Kalahari community and the Western Cape theatre for development group, South Roots. They have also initiated International intercultural exchange trips in affiliation with the Indra Congress.


Mary Lange

E-mail: marylange7@gmail.com


E-mail: dlaminibhekithemba@gmail.com

E-mail: dlaminibhekithemba@gmail.com

Also at the University of Kwa Zulu-Natal: Miranda Young youngm1@UKZN.ac.za



Al Harah is a highly respected theatre company based in Beit Jala, the West Bank. Their work is grounded in the belief that theatre has the potential to change the lives of those who make it and those who watch it. Al Harah produces and promotes dramatic work of a high standard, and through their performances and educational work brings compelling stories to audiences throughout Palestine, the Arab world and beyond. The company is strongly convinced that theatre is a powerful resource to help build a civil society that emphasizes human rights, democracy and pluralism.

The company aspires to develop the local, Palestinian and Arab theatre movement through touring theatre to communities in the region and beyond; an extensive youth theatre programme; ‘training the trainers’ and playwriting courses; encouraging and facilitating the incorporation of theatre education into Palestinian curricula and building a network with other theatre groups in Palestine, the Middle East and internationally.

Al Harah’s theatre addresses issues relating to overt political injustice, for example, their play Born In Bethlehem, which toured the UK in 2009; and plays that address difficult internal issues such as gender and sexuality, for example, the Alone We Stand project.


Marina Barham

E-mail: info@alharah.org

Phone: +970-22767758 / +970-22767758

Mobile: +970-592767758 / +970-592767758

Also: Mirna Sakhleh: mirna_sakhleh@yahoo.com

Nicola Zreineh: nzreineh@yahoo.com



Fanni Raghman Anni

‘Fanni Raghman Anni’ is an independent cultural association that seeks to reclaim the Tunisian street as an open, free space for political, artistic and cultural expression and through the training and development of the artistic capacities of young people, especially in marginalised neighbourhoods.

In their own words, ‘We support and develop the local talents of young men and women, give them the opportunity to create a cultural space in their communities, making it possible for them to pursue the fight for their rights and for the eradication of all forms of exclusion.

Contact: Executive Director Asma Kakaou :  asmakaou@gmail.com

Artistic Director:  Siefeddine Jlassihas:   fanni.my.art@gmail.com



Indra in India is based at the Study Hall Foundation, Lucknow. By day Study Hall is a fee paying school for around 1500 middle class children. Later in the day the same building and resources become the base for Prerna School, which provides a high quality, virtually free education for disadvantaged girls who are vulnerable to poverty and abuse and suffer prejudices from gender to caste: ‘The girls come from the neighbouring slums and communities and, being compelled by their circumstances, most of them work in houses as domestic helpers’.

Study Hall is committed to providing educational and life opportunities for underprivileged young women. Other branches of Study Hall activity include: Digital Study Hall, which seeks to improve education for poor children in slums and rural schools throughout India; a rurally linked co-educational school, situated in Malihabad, 32 kilometres from Lucknow, and the the Prep School of Study Hall.. In addition, Dosti, an integrated programme for children with special needs, provides education to over 70 physically and mentally challenged children. In 2013 the Centre for Learning was initiated with the aim of helping children with learning difficulties, special educational needs and slow learners.

Prerna is linked closely with the economic enterprise of Didi’s, which was initiated through Sisters in Solidarity (SIS). This is an autonomous society which runs 2 units under its umbrella, Didi’s Foods and Didi’s Creations.


Urvashi Sahni, Founder and Director of Study Hall

E-mail: urvashi.sahni@gmail.com



The Greek Indra group is linked to the The HELLENIC THEATRE/DRAMA & EDUCATION NETWORK (TENet-Gr). This is an association of teachers and artists who work for the for the promotion of research on and practice of theatre, educational drama and other performing arts within formal and non formal education.

Its dual aim is to provide assistance for the performing arts in order that they can gain a central role in schools, and to contribute to the development of approaches and techniques, viewing theatre as an art form, as learning tool and as a tool for social intervention.

TENrt –Gr activities include:

regular practical training seminars for teachers, facilitators and young people the Athens International Theatre/Drama in Education Conference, the annual Theatre Summer Camp projects in schools and with youth groups Publishing books and the annual “Education & Theatre Journal”. Develops networks with similar organisations in Greece and abroad and updating its website with a plethora of educational material (news bulletin, e-journal, listings of theatre exercises and games, brief descriptions and analyses of theatre plays, articles, e.t.c.).

TENet’s key trainers are highly skilled practitioners and theoreticians in the areas of drama/theatre in education, in theatre as an art form, in theatre for development and in active citizenship (theatre of the oppressed, verbatim theatre et.)


Betty giannouli

E-mail: bgiannouli@gmail.com

Iro Potamousi

E-mail: apotamousi@yahoo.gr



Since 2008 the activities of Indra in Brazil have been centred around the personality and work of Marcia Pompeo. Tragically, to many people’s great sadness around the world, Marcia died in the summer of 2019. Marcia had been keen to introduce her dear friend and colleague, Marina Coutinho into the network of Indra.

Marina Coutinho works at the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro on their teacher training programme. There are three strands to her work; teaching, research and what are called extension programmes. Extension programmes seek to link the University to the outside world and Marina’s work is an excellent example of this principle in practice.

Marina’s department has strong links with the complex of Maré, a grouping of 16 favelas with a population of approximately 130,000. Despite its violent reputation to the outside world, Maré contains a large Arts Centre, which is home to a dance company and school of dance, receives professional theatre groups and several creative initiatives from the local community in diverse art forms.

As Marina says, ’The choice of a favela for the location of an Arts Centre connects to new ways to give visibility to disadvantaged communities in Rio de Janeiro historically seen as places of need and violence. Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, in many cases, the favela was defined by what it lacked not by what it had: the identification of these areas as places of need and violence. It is because of this that the ‘alternative discourse’ engendered in these places has become so important.’


Marina Coutinho

E-mail:  marinacoutinho@gmail.com


Sierra Leone

For some time now there has not been a formal Indra group in Sierra Leone. However, Ndeamoh Mansaray, who attended the 2010 ARROW Congress in Plymouth, is now a practicing journalist and has been making real efforts to kick start an ongoing presence in the country. This is an unusual situation as the momentum to launch the group has very come from her grassroots youth and community activities. Ndeamoh has been supported from the UK through the energies of Isatta Kallon, a refugee from the civil war in the country, now living in Plymouth and working for the Red Cross. Ndeamoh has now started her project which is called ‘Daughters of Sierra Leone.’


Ndeamoh Mansaray

E-mail: ndeamans@yahoo.com

In the UK:

Isatta Kallon

E-mail: ISKallon@redcross.org.uk



The University of Alberta

Diane Conrad and her colleagues Jan Selman and Jane Heather at the University of Alberta devised and submitted successfully to the university a proposal for a university, study abroad course based on the theme of drama and social justice.  Their proposal was to use the Indra Congress, together with a sister organisation in Kenya, as a reference point for the course.  This would mean a group of a dozen or so students being involved at the Congress in Derry in 2013 as both participants and support workers

The process was successful and set a precedent for how higher education institutions could become actively integrated into the wider Indra programme. Unfortunately funding for this specific project has run out but we hope to maintain the close link with Diane Conrad and her colleagues

Contact: Diane Conrad dhconrad@ualberta.ca



Jerry Adesewo, Director of the The Royal Arojah Theatre in Abuja, NIgeria, attended the 2015 Indra Congress in Plymouth: sadly his group of young participants were unable to obtain visas. However, the theatre has now developed a keen enthusiasm to be an active member of the Indra network.

The theatre has an ambitious programme and aspires to become a leading theatre presence in Nigeria. The theatre seeks to develop the arts as a ‘social force’ and to nurture partnerships and alliances with arts organisations in Nigeria and beyond that share their vision and ideals.


E-mail: jerry.adesewo@gmail.com / arojahtiata@gmail.com


Website: www.arojahtheatrengr.com


Chris Vine and Helen White at City University New York (CUNY).

Chris and Helen have both worked extensively in the field of applied theatre.  Chris was a founding member of the pioneering Peterborough Perspectives Theatre company in the UK.  He then became Artistic Director of the Greenwich Young People’s Theatre Company in London for several years and played a significant role in introducing and promoting the work of Augusto Boal into the UK.

Meanwhile Helen White had been working for a number of community theatre companies in the UK from the Half Moon in London to Doctor Fosters Travelling Theatre in the SW before being appointed as Director of Perspectives.   Chris and Helen moved to New York together in 1993, where Chris was appointed as Artistic and Education Director of CAT (Creative Arts Team) at CUNY.  They were both founding members of the CAT Youth Theatre, one of several programmes within CAT.

Chris launched the Professional studies MA in Applied Theatre in 2008 and Helen continued as Artistic Director of the CAT Youth Theatre, which is now an extensive youth theatre programme that works with middle school, high school and early college-aged young people from across New York.  CAT has an ambitious programme of workshops, training and performances which are usually devised from the direct and diverse experiences of the young participants.  Membership is free subject to the commitment to be an active participant.


Chris Vine:  chris.cuny.cat@gmail.com

Helen White: helen.cuny.cat@gmail.com