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 Indra Congress is a growing, global network of young people, artists, educators and others who share a commitment to the development of the arts as a crucial resource for peacebuilding and the non-violent transformation of conflict.
Our vision is to use the language of the arts to challenge stereotypes, prejudices, inequalities and destructive myths, to build bridges, to promote empathy and to help build positive relationships across perceived boundaries and barriers.
The aims of the Congress will be achieved through the development of a rolling programme of live regional, national and international Congress events, within a framework of ongoing grassroots activities, training, research and advocacy.
The underlying belief driving the Indra Congress is that the creative arts have a unique contribution to make towards conflict transformation. It is a belief grounded in the power of creativity, compassion and the needs and demands of a just 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|
|2017||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:
- 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
- undertake shared exercises and projects with other Indra groups, both virtual and live
- undertake skills and awareness training in the creative arts, facilitation, group work and communication, mediation, anti-racist training and IT.
Core groups Indra Congress
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.
Phone: 01282 427767
Gorse Hill Hill Studios is a youth and community arts organisation based in south Manchester, established over 15 years ago and part of Treford 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
0161 912 5251 07979 020218 0161 866 8356
Durham Kackass Youth theatre has been involved with the ARROW/Indra programme over several years. They do not have a regularly meeting group, resources will not allow, but describe Indra as a ‘cross curricular thread’ that influences much of their activity. However, groups from the youth theatre have attended UK and global gatherings consistently.
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.
Phone: 07821 070042
Also in Derry at the university of Ulster and closely associated with Indra, Matt Jennings: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Plymouth Barbican Theatre runs an Indra youth group operating within the wider, inclusive youth and community provision and strategy at the theatre. The 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 more recently hosted the 2015 Congress in Plymouth.
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.
Phone: +970-22767758 / +970-22767758
Mobile: +970-592767758 / +970-592767758
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.
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
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.
It’s 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.)
The activities of Indra in Brazil are centred around the personality and work of Marcia Pompeo. Marcia is Associate Professor of the State University of Santa Caterina. FOFA (Formation of Facilitators), which is Marcia’s research and extension group, has existed since 2008 and is made up of practitioners, researchers, and students. A primary aim of FOFA is the linking of theory and practice. FOFA’s aim is to ‘put knowledge beyond its own limits’ and make university placements, teaching practice and research meaningful for all parties’. FOFA’s activities centre on a major annual event, which brings together 200 participants of all ages from existing community groups in the city and area. More recently Marcia has been seeking to connect Indra with the wider landless movement in Brazil.
Maria Pappacosta, a respected educationalist working with the Ministry of Education in Cyprus, set up an informal Indra group to attend the 2013 Congress in Derry 2015. Since then Maria has maintained the momentum and brought a small group again to the Plymouth Congress in 2015.
For some time now there has not been a formal Indra group in Sierra Leone. However, Alfred Thullah and Ndeamoh Mansaray, who attended the 2010 ARROW Congress in Plymouth, are still active and have 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 grassroots youth and community activities. They have been supported from the UK through the energies of Isatta Kallon, a refugee from the civil war in the country.
In the UK:
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.