Meet me in the Middle

Ann-Kristin Sofroniou, Claraluz Keiser and Tine van Goethem have been joining forces to create ‘Meet Me in the Middle’ as part of their participation in Tandem Europe. In this story, you will learn more about the tools and reflections they have been creating to tackle social issues and building communities through art.

‘Meet me in the Middle’ is a collaborative project between three diverse cultural organisations (large and small) aiming to share ideas and change internal mindsets by partnering with one another and with communities to address participatory art and co-creation. It functions as a rhizome, where horizontal collaborations take place in pairs and as a trio, where exchanges serve as departure points for building a larger network uniting cultural actors big and small throughout Europe. The collaboration was born from a confluence of the needs of one and the strengths of the others.

metree: Tine, Clara and Kristin
metree: Tine, Clara and Kristin

Our project focused on creating a dynamic of knowledge and experience sharing between us via two-directional exchanges: both TOP-DOWN with BOZAR and GNO sharing challenges and solutions to help grow and sustain projects, and BOTTOM-UP with E-DA teaching the larger presenting and producing arts organisations human-centred design solutions.

Research questions that kept coming back throughout our placements

– When should participatory art begin and where does it end? How can participatory art impact artistic decisions?

– What are our limits in relation to methodology, personal involvement, impact, artistic quality, etc? Are there solutions?

– How much time do we need to invest to build trust with local communities to understand their actual needs and desires?

– How do we introduce and implement change in large organisations?

– How do you identify target groups?

Prisao Paraiso's door in Trafaria (Lisbon). Photo by Kristin
Prisao Paraiso's door in Trafaria (Lisbon). Photo by Kristin

‘Meet me in the Middle’ manifesto

– A belief that artistic participatory intercultural projects can empower local and international communities to discover their own needs and desires by creating a safe space for diverse groups of people to share with each other and exchange – whether that is a participatory project for a local community or our Tandem project ‘Meet me in the Middle’.

– Establishing an intercultural network that exchanges experiences can enhance institutions capacity to transform communities through arts via participatory methods and have an impact in society by changing perspectives within a local and international context.

– Building connections between diverse organisations of common beliefs gives support and confidence to deal with issues and implement change within our local organisations and with each other – building creative bridges of mutual trust between organisations.

– Process over output. Expression over artistic excellency. Learn from each other rather than imposing knowledge. Cooking together as methodology for building relationships, promoting expression and sharing knowledge amongst a diverse group of people.

Over the course of one year, we exchanged expertise, knowledge and experiences. We shadowed each other in our everyday life and work, we experimented with various methodologies and had endless conversations about almost everything. We ate together, we laughed together, we got to know each other, we cooked together, we did open events with roundtable discussions and food. We invited people to come and cook with us, but we also went to people and cooked with them. We found our common dream…and food became an important part of how that came to pass.

From the first meal in a shopping complex in Sofia to the last supper in Brussels, however subtly or imperceptibly, food became the medium through which we got where we needed to be. That is why we have decided to present this work in this format, taking inspiration from a cookbook, but presented with our own special flavour.