“YEAD – Young European (Cultural) Audience Development” builds on the expertise developed by Fondazione Ismu through a long-standing involvement in two key areas of research, training and experimentation:
1) its emphasis on the potential contribution of heritage institutions in promoting intercultural exchange and understanding (since 2005), by creating the website “Heritage and Interculture” (which over the years has become a unique observatory on intercultural education policies and practices developed by Italian museums and heritage sites), as well as by promoting groundbreaking working practices through training and action-research courses, publications, seminars and conferences, joint planning and running of intercultural projects in partnership with museum institutions, and the open call for young artists and cultural institutions “Art, Heritage and Human Rights”, in collaboration with the association Connecting Culture
2) its involvement, also since 2005, in “YEFF! – Young European Film Forum for Cultural Diversity”, a growing network of organisations working in media literacy, intercultural education and anti-discrimination. YEFF’s goals include enhancing the creative and expressive potential of (mostly disadvantaged) youths through the development of multimedia products; promoting intercultural dialogue, exchange and cross-fertilisation; supporting the dissemination of videos created by young participants on the theme of cultural diversity; encouraging creative synergies between young visual communication professionals, filmmakers and media educators.
In the framework of YEAD – Year 1 (see below), Fondazione Ismu:
• has been acting as “facilitator/mentor” of the Italian group of museum professionals and young film-makers (therefore, it was not operationally involved in their pilot projects)
• focused on providing the three working groups (MUDEC – Museum of Cultures, MUST – Museum of Vimercate’s territory and the “Adriano Bernareggi” Museum) with guidelines and tools to enable them to design and implement their projects by involving young people as “creators” and “decision-makers”.
• Project leader: CVB – Centre Video de Bruxelles (Belgium)
• Project partners: YEAD’s first three years are run by “working duets”:
– Italy (Fondazione Ismu) / France (AlterNatives) in 2016: “Universal access to culture”
– Netherlands (Stichting En Actie) / Portugal (AO NORTE – Associação de Produção e Animação Audiovisual) in 2017: “Cultural Influence(s)”
– Germany (Regionale Arbeitsstelle für Bildung, Integration und Demokrati ) / Belgium (CVB) in 2018: “Migrant Audiences: Ex/Inclusion”
The fourth year, run by CVB, will be devoted to the overarching theme “Democratisation of culture and Cultural democracy”.
All partners are members of the “YEFF! – Young European Film Forum for Cultural Diversity” network (see “Background”).
Museum partners for Year 1 are:
• in Italy: MUDEC – Museum of Cultures (Milan), MUST – Museum of Vimercate’s Territory (Vimercate), “Adriano Bernareggi” Museum of religious art (Bergamo)
• in France: Louvre (Paris), Musée national des arts asiatiques “Guimet” (Paris), Musée d’Angoulême (Angoulême), Centre des Monuments Nationaux (Paris).
YEAD is a four-year project (2015-2019) supported by the “Creative Europe” programme of the European Union.
The overarching goals for Year 1 (“Universal access to culture”) are:
• to reach underrepresented audiences and improve access to cultural institutions and creative works in the EU and beyond by fostering creative partnerships between cultural and creative players (museum professionals and young filmmakers)
• to provide European museum professionals and filmmakers with skills, competences and know-how needed to engage and develop young audiences through innovative approaches in the field of heritage education in an intercultural perspective (filmmaking and storytelling).
The goals in practice are:
• to train and support museum professionals and filmmakers in order to help them carry out pilot activities in YEAD’s framework (short-term goal)
• to monitor and evaluate the process and results of pilot projects, identifying strengths and critical hurdles so that they may be shared with a wider community of practice
• to ensure legacy, progression and institutional change (long-term goal: “life after YEAD”).
The common goals for the three pilot projects carried out in Italian museums:
• to promote the participation of young people in the museum’s life as actors and creators, rather than as simple users
• to raise young people’s awareness of cultural heritage
• to explore inclusive and creative methodologies (filmmaking and storytelling in particular) for the re-interpretation of the museum collections
• to establish new partnerships with local actors
• to develop an educational format to be reproduced after YEAD.
• of the training phase: museum professionals (curators and educators) and young film-makers
• of the pilot projects: young people aged 16-20, both “native” and with an immigrant background.
Duration of the project
Year 1: 2015-2016.
Main working phases:
1. Intensive training workshop (November 2015, see programme) in Milan and Turin, addressed to the Italian and French groups of museum professionals and young film-makers. The aim was to provide workshop participants with new skills, competences and know-how to reach cross-cultural audiences, with a particular focus on underrepresented groups and individuals (mostly youths with a migrant background), as well as to share and discuss guidelines which would help develop new pilot projects in the French and Italian museums involved.
2. Design and implementation of pilot projects addressed to cross-cultural young audiences in the three Italian museums involved (January-July 2016):
– “Riprendi-ti al MUDEC” (Museum of Cultures, Milan)
– “MUST REC YOUR ART” (MUST – Museum of Vimercate’s Territory)
– “Action! Tell me a story about MAB” (“Adriano Bernareggi” Museum).
One of the key outputs of these pilot experiences has been the production of videos with the active involvement of young participants:
– Museum of Cultures: “Secret of art”, “Unexpected tour”, “A very crazy crew at the MUDEC”
– MUST: “MY POST-ID”
– “Adriano Bernareggi” Museum: “Museum encounters”.
3. Formative evaluation workshop in Paris (June 2016): the Italian and French working teams met once again to share, discuss and improve their work in progress.
4. Front-end, formative and summative evaluation of the process, outputs and outcomes was designed and implemented by Fondazione Ismu.
Before the training workshop took place in November 2015, an informal survey was carried out with Italian and French museum professionals in order to identify specific training needs. The workshop was evaluated through a questionnaire aimed both at museum operators and young filmmakers.
During the design and implementation phase, Italian museums were provided with a “project description” grid which would allow them to carry out their own self-evaluation throughout the projects; two collective meetings were organised by the Foundation (February and May 2016) to carry out formative evaluation of the work in progress, identify critical hurdles and suggest remedial action if needed; moreover, Fondazione Ismu constantly acted as a “facilitator/mentor” of the three museums through individual meetings, Skype conversations and e-mail exchanges.
As for summative evaluation, Fondazione Ismu designed two questionnaires: one aimed at museum operators and film-makers, the other at the young participants of pilot projects.
5. Public seminar in Milan (MUDEC, 11 November 2016, see programme): pilot projects and videos were presented to professionals (museum operators, filmmakers, researchers, educators…), students (museum studies, filmmaking, media design…), policy makers, under-represented audiences from which project participants came from.
In parallel with the actions carried out by Fondazione Ismu and AlterNatives in the frame work of YEAD – Year 1, the other four European partners have run smaller workshops resulting in the creation of videos devoted to the theme of access to culture (e.g. “In het museum…!?” in the Netherlands, “Culture@Marges” in Belgium).
Lessons to be learned: strengths
Of the training workshop:
• the opportunity to learn about projects carried out in other museums, through the presentation of case studies, interactive workshop activities and feedback discussions with invited experts and between participants
• the “immersive” experience provided by working exclusively in museum contexts: all the training activities took place inside museums, and this was highly appreciated by all workshop participants as a significant added value
• the opportunity to express and use one’s own expertise/competencies, and/or to learn new ones
• the opportunity for museum operators and film-makers to work together for five days, learning about the respective professional practices and discovering the potential for future collaborations
• the chance to learn more about storytelling as an innovative tool for heritage mediation and as an alternative to the traditionally self-referential language of museums
• the chance to learn more about strategies and tools for impact evaluation
• the perceived helpfulness of insights developed throughout the workshop for future projects and their evaluation.
Of the pilot projects (for museum professionals and filmmakers):
• YEAD pilot projects turned out to be an important opportunity for the professional/personal growth of all the operators involved
• development of new expertise and skills (e.g. managing a “complex” project, using film-making as an educational tool, testing the potential of cooperative planning and activities with young people, reinforcing interpersonal skills …)
• all operators/film-makers were surprised and touched by the level of involvement and commitment of participants, who immediately “felt at home” in the museum; they found it easy and rewarding to work with young people, somehow dispelling the myth of this age group as being “difficult”
• somewhat more problematic was the relationship between museum staff and film-makers: highly motivating and mutually enriching, but needing constant “negotiation” due to very diverse professional backgrounds and “languages”
• film-making was generally recognised as an excellent tool to actively involve young participants, to make them feel more at ease in exploring the museum and in expressing their creativity (see also “critical hurdles”)
• pilot projects triggered positive spin-offs also at the institutional level: a new expertise was developed in collaborative practices with young people; new awareness of the importance of these practices on the part of museum management; commitment to new projects in the months to come, thanks to the expertise and skills developed throughout YEAD (training and pilot projects); an awareness that these collaborative projects are important not only to promote participation, but also to motivate internal staff.
Of the pilot projects (for young participants):
• all participants involved judged the experience lived throughout the pilot projects “very positively” (21) or “positively” (17): the importance of actively participating, interacting, listening to one another, cooperating, emerges with particular strength when young people are asked whether they met any difficulty in expressing what they wanted to say in a visual form, or whether taking part in the project gave them an opportunity to freely express their ideas: many of them answer positively by referring not so much to their personal skills, as by stating that working in a team, exchanging views and never feeling judged was extremely helpful
• for many participants, creating a video was useful to better understand their relationship with cultural heritage; more in particular, working with the video tool: was a vehicle to better appreciate the value of cultural heritage and learning new things; helped participants to understand what they consider “more important” when looking at museum objects; allowed a continued “exposure” to the museum, its staff, spaces and collections; helped young participants to perceive themselves as “storytellers” rather than as passive “listeners”
• among the most positive “surprises”, young participants quote interpersonal relations (both with museum staff and film-makers, and with other participants), but also, quite significantly, the opportunity to learn about museum work from “behind the scenes” (e.g. visiting spaces which are not usually open to the public, or interviewing museum staff).
Lessons to be learned: critical hurdles
Of the training workshop:
• operators and filmmakers taking part in the training had very different backgrounds in terms of expertise and professional skills: this meant that participants carried with them a highly diverse range of needs and expectations – something the project team had been aware of since the beginning, but could be addressed only in part.
Of the pilot projects (for museum professionals and filmmakers):
• running highly complex, time-consuming projects requiring specific expertise, when the three project teams had none or little
• the little time available to stop and reflect on work in progress, exchanging views with the whole project team
• the different interpretations of vital issues such as the degree of autonomy of young participants, the balance of different actors (museum staff, film-makers, young participants, project partners) in decision-making, the relationship between “process” and “product”
• some operators had reservations about the little time available for young participants to become more aware of cultural heritage / explore new meanings of the collections through film-making: in order for this to happen (and the potential is there), a much longer-term involvement is needed, alongside greater expertise on the part of project teams
• a few museum operators warned against the risk of focusing too much on “making films” to the detriment of establishing a meaningful relationship with cultural heritage, if young participants are not “guided” appropriately.
Of the pilot projects (for young participants):
• participants certainly felt “at home” in the museum, but time was not enough to ensure a long-term impact in terms of perceiving cultural heritage in a new light: in fact, many of them observed they would have liked the pilot projects to last longer
• others would have appreciated “more people with whom to interact, more equipment available to shoot the videos”
• others ask to repeat the experience in the future, so as to actively involve more young people in cultural activities.
Fondazione Ismu, Settore Educazione
via Copernico, 1 – 20125 Milano
– Mara Clementi, project leader
– Simona Bodo and Silvia Mascheroni, scientific coordinators