"KulturAgora" - open spaces of culture

Sandra Maksimović, one of the awarded Best Educators of Serbia for 2020, invested her award in the project “KulturAgora”, whose main project lead is group Kulturociklin. The project is conceptualized as a series of workshops, expert visits, and cooperation with representatives of culture in Kruševac. The project aims to educate ten high school students to conduct independent workshops and work with young people.

The Kulturociklin group, whose creator and artistic director is Sandra Maksimović, has been implementing education projects for youth for five years. The projects are conducted through performances, plays, and debates that discuss various topics such as culture, education, violence, mental and emotional health. The group is a UNESCO representative of creative drama in Serbia (2021) and a participant in international conferences "Educate with culture - towards a society where values are important" (2019), "Creative education - readiness for unpreparedness" (2020/2021), as well as a representative at IDEA (“International Drama Theater in Education Association”) Annual Congress (2021).

The starting point was the need to build the cultural habits of young people, stimulate youth to participate in cultural content, and form diverse environments of institutional and non-institutional scenes as places of creative meetings and exchange. Therefore, the project "KulturAgora" began in August, and the first step was defining topics, content, and needs of young people through talks and workshops. With that, a group of peer educators was formed. In September, the group passed numerous workshops of various contents - from introduction to creative drama techniques such as sculpting techniques, frozen paintings, guided improvisation and creative movement to workshops dealing with communication, project writing, and entrepreneurship basics. This was followed by cooperation and professional visits to the Cultural Center, Alternative Cultural Center "Gnezdo", Alternative Girls’ Center, and the Association of Musicians "Zamajac", where in cooperation with representatives, new workshops on assertiveness, emotional literacy, gender equality, as well as art workshops such as the filmmaking workshops (Alternative Center Gnezdo) and music workshops (Zamajac) were held.

After an insight into various contents, ten representatives of peer educators held their independent workshops in October. That included forty students of eighth grade from the Sveti Sava Elementary School in Kruševac. The first workshop covered the cultural needs of young people, while the second discussed the mental health of adolescents. The workshops encouraged participants to create and organize new projects. So one of the participants started her art exhibition "Culture through caricature". During one of the workshops, a large number of participants stated that they would like to talk anonymously about some problems and difficulties that young people face. Therefore, representatives of the student parliament of the Sveti Sava Elementary School, in cooperation with peer educators of Kulturociklin realized the project "Boxes for suggestions and problems” which is placed in the school hall. All activities were followed by posting materials on digital platforms - the site, Instagram, and YouTube channels of the school and Kulturociklin. The contents included student works - photographs, recordings, texts.

As an epilogue of the project, the collection of works "Towards the spaces of KulturAgora" is planned to be published in December. The work will summarize all the experiences, knowledge, and research conducted during this period, as well as previous works of the Kulturociklin group.

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