Author Jo Mcleish - The Media Room
- Partner Interview
Tell us about your organisation?
Explora is a museum for children. We opened twenty years ago.
We are staffed mainly by females and our focus is on schools and families.
Each year we have around 150,000 visitors to the museum.
We are an interactive museum, we build and design exhibitions, and run a series of workshops around specific themes and topics. Alongside this, we offer training and refresher courses for teachers, summer camps and holiday camps. And we work on many European and national projects.
Our outside green space is very interesting – it’s a space where people can spend their time surrounded by gardens, games and our photography and art exhibitions displayed across our external walls, so it creates a real impact.
Currently we have our ‘Children of the Sea’ exhibition live, which was part of a previous Creative Europe funded project, Journeys, led by ArtReach.
What do you bring to the LIBERTY EU Project?
The fact that we are a ‘children’s’ museum – and the only children’s museum involved in LIBERTY EU – I believe adds value to the project, as does the fact that our educational approach involves children, schools and families. We provide a viewpoint that is quite different from our other partners.
What do you hope LIBERTY EU will achieve for young artists in your country?
I have spoken to many young artists about the project and what they are really interested in is the Portfolio opportunities and the ability to be able to engage with all of the different partners.
I also feel that it is an opportunity for young artists to overcome different language barriers, when you consider the geography of the different partners involved in the project.
What LIBERTY EU offers is the chance for young people to take risks, try new things and jump in, and of course the chance to learn and improve their own practice.
Why do you think the LIBERTY EU project is important right now?
For the entire year of the Pandemic we have been living in uncertain times. But the LIBERTY EU project, since the very beginning of the first lockdown in Italy, has given us a lifeline and an opportunity to re-think what we can offer. I feel this is a good thing – we are working to a budget, we know what we need to achieve and what we will bring to the project as a whole. It has certainly changed our perspective on things, this last year. LIBERTY EU has given us a real focus, and a tool kit to work with, a solid base. It has helped us develop new ideas with confidence.
Where can LIBERTY EU achieve most impact?
For me it will be the finale! That is something to really look forward to. I think a concrete offer of support from all partners that is given to all of the artists taking part will be amazing. And I hope that one impact area will be the idea of resilience – that we can celebrate just how active the arts sector can be in times of challenge – and in terms of its artistic offer and its financial offer in society.
What are you most excited about delivering as part of the LIBERTY EU project?
I’m proud of all of our outputs. I’m proud of our artists. We have renovated our exterior space of the museum – providing us with a huge exterior canvas on which to display our work. It’s important to remind ourselves that whilst we are going through a hard time, we are still thriving, developing ideas. LIBERTY EU is like a seed – growing our artistic ideas.
Why are the arts important for young people?
I believe in creativity and the magic of creativity, and of course the arts are the best way to train creativity. Developing thoughts and ideas is like using a muscle – an artistic muscle. What the arts do is allow different viewpoints to come across to others, and it allows young people to think outside the box.
Has Brexit impacted on European Artistic relationships?
Yes! It has made us question ‘what now, what do we do?’ We have had strong working relationships with ArtReach (the UK-based lead organisation for LIBERTY EU) since 2015 and we have every intention that this relationship remains the same. But it’s building new relationships with the UK that may prove harder. I guess we will just need to find new ways in which to collaborate. And whilst the UK is no longer in the Union, we are still close as artistic neighbours and nothing will change that.
Images of Liberty EU team tour of Explora featuring ‘Children of the Sea’ by Sibomana exhibition, which is part of Journeys Creative Europe funded project, led by Artreach.