European Communities Fight Pandemic with Creativity: European Community Awards “Co-create & Comprehend” for Cultural Continuity - Kauno Bienalė

European Communities Fight Pandemic with Creativity: European Community Awards “Co-create & Comprehend” for Cultural Continuity


“MagiC Carpets” is a platform funded by “Creative Europe”, uniting 15 European cultural organisations. It traditionally nominates its participants for enhancing cultural accessibility, cultural activism and participation. The European community award “Co-create & Comprehend” honours the local communities, who join artistic activities in order to share their stories and reveal the local context for the visiting artists.

During the “MagiC Carpets” emerging curators meeting of February 2020, four nominations for co-creation between the local communities and artists were awarded with a 3000 Euro cash fund. These partnerships create spaces allowing to develop intercultural, emotional and social environment. Due to an ongoing pandemic across Europe, the European community award ceremony “Co-create & Comprehend” for 2020 co-creative activities was held online, and the award went to the Centre for People with Disabilities “Korys” (Kaunas, Lithuania), “Laboratorio delle Ragazze del Trullo” (“Girls Trullo Factory”) (Rome, Italy), artists from Tbilisi and Sukhumi (Tbilisi, Georgia) and Novo Naselje residents (Serbia).

According to Mrs. Neringa Kulik, project manager of “MagiC Carpets”, while the last year was challenging, it was also pleasantly surprising.

“The pandemic started at the beginning of last year, resulting in quarantine across Europe and suddenly we had to rethink and make new strategies for the platform’s activities. The challenge was how to make “MagiC Carpets” activities take place without travelling, without the physical contact, and without face-to-face communication. We discussed how to best approach it and agreed to focus more on the local emerging artists working with the local communities, looking at what is possible to do locally”, says Mrs. Kulik.


Promoting inclusion of people with disabilities

Kaunas Biennial (Lithuania) and local professional dancers Mantas Stabačinskas and Vasara Visockaitė implemented the creative movement laboratory with the Centre for People with Disabilities “Korys”. The aim of the project was to develop the creativity of people with disabilities through artistic movement practices and to involve them in active creative processes. Since many social and educational projects are focused on children, youth and seniors, this creative movement laboratory concentrated on the activities together with adults with disabilities. The project involved other local professional dancers as volunteers, helped improve their skills of working with different groups of people and fostered the creativity of people with disabilities.

The main mission of the Centre for People with Disabilities “Korys” is to empower people with disabilities to live as independently as possible and provide psychosocial assistance for the relatives of people with disabilities. With the help of the award and the cash fund, the center will continue to change the societal attitudes towards people with disabilities through creative activities with professional artists. Kaunas Biennial announced that the creative movement laboratory will continue this year, involving more local and international artists.

Legacy of freedom, silence and harmony

During the third year of “MagiC Carpets”, Italy aimed to take inspiration from the local writers, who chose to write about life in the suburbs of Rome, like Pier Paolo Pasolini, and used social issues to activate new creative processes, like Gianni Rodari. The projects by Latitudo Art Projects (Italy) focused on the suburbs of Rome Trullo and Corviale. The local artist Sara Basta worked in Trullo with a community of local women and her project started from some words and phrases taken from “La Grammatica della Fantasia written by Gianni Rodari.

After Sara Basta’s workshops and “MagiC Carpets” project, the women of Trullo district decided to create a new group based on the name of the district. This group is called “Laboratorio delle Ragazze del Trullo” (“Girls Trullo Factory”). Trullo is a district, full of old stories strictly linked to the community: the aim of the newly formed group of women is to enhance these stories and to transmit them to younger generations.

With the help of the European community award “Co-create & Comprehend”, the “Girls Trullo Factory” will continue involving the people of Trullo, organizing workshops, teaching younger generation the art of embroidery, creating a connection between the group and the schools in Trullo as well as other districts of Rome, and promoting the district through the use of local products and materials.

Confidence building between conflict divided communities

Tbilisi Photo Festival (Georgia) has joined the “MagiC Carpets” platform in 2020 with the residency program “Subtropical Cultures”. The project tackled the confidence building issues between the communities of the conflict-divided sides: Tbilisi and Sukhumi. Since the end of the war in 1993, for the first time ever, the artists from Tbilisi and Sukhumi collaborated within the project implemented by Tbilisi Photo Festival as part of the “MagiC Carpets” platform.

The aim of the project was to use an innovative approach in conflict resolution and lay the groundwork for rethinking recent history through art, which, in addition to many issues, can challenge the existing nationalist narratives and provide new means of discussing these issues.

The project involved 5 artists from Tbilisi and 2 artists from Sukhumi as well as 3 experts, including one from Sukhumi. Online exchanges, lectures, online movie screening and discussions brought together two communities of artists from the conflict-divided sides. The cash fund of the award will be used to develop long-term mentorship, lecture, webinar, joining exhibition and publication programme with the final gathering of the participants in Turkey.


Ecology-orientated project “#NewCheapNature” with the local artist Milica Dukić by Novo Kulturno Naselje (Serbia) aimed to raise awareness and educate people about the traditional approaches in the modern times. The artist invited local residents to embroidery workshops that used materials and resources they already had at home. After the series of outdoor workshops, an outdoor exhibition consisting of 6 installations addressing different topics recognized as relevant to Novo Naselje, such as community, public space, ecology, Covid-19 pandemic and memories, took place.

Inspired by the workshops of artists, the community award will be used to explore the scenic or performative potential of Novo Naselje through a specific urban spot, such as the “Park Among the Birches”.

The first European community to receive the European community award “Co-create & Comprehend” in 2018 was Novo Naselje community from Novi Sad city in Serbia. Other winners included FOCUS Casa dei Diritti Sociali community in Italy, Wilten district community in Austria, Jelsa community on the island of Hvar. In 2019, the award was shared by the communities of Slon (Romania) and Novo Naselje (Serbia) as well as the Italian organisation Pontedicontro. The cash prize helps these communities to organise various activities, creative workshops, contribute to staging performances and positive changes reducing social exclusion.