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Fading Divide

Arts-based peacebuilding, uniting artists and conflict-affected youth to give marginalized voices a platform for expression.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

In Cyprus, division has fueled and magnified misunderstanding between parties in conflict. Within this conflict, one community in particular is rarely represented and have become a challenge within the resolution of the conflict. This group is often referred to as "settlers", which are primarily composed of Turkish nationals who have relocated to the northern part of Cyprus or their descendants. This project aims to address the core issues of conflict, exploring alternatives to conflict narratives that exist within post-conflict societies. Our approach will be to work with "settler" youth to explore their situation within society. By partnering youth with professional artists, we hope to allow for the production of artwork from the perspective of this marginalized community. We believe this has two direct benefits. First, participating youth are given a chance to build self-confidence and artistic skills while representing their community. Also, we believe that this will promote meaningful dialogue and a better understanding of this group within a difficult context. This project addresses serious challenges for Cypriot society. The "settler" community is widely recognized as one hindrance to finding a peaceful solution while it is also recognized that any solution without recognizing them poses significant challenges, both logistically and from a human rights perspective. The proposed project introduces multiperspectivity through a visual insight into their community. In our view, this addresses peace and prosperity. Simply speaking, this is peacebuilding at its core. We aim to flush out a widely ignored perspective from a non-violent group that plays a direct but unconscious role in the continuation of conflict. Our idea of prosperity is slightly more abstract. We focus less on immediate economic gain but instead focus on the prosperity of understanding and knowledge. Additionally, we believe that a contribution to peace is a contribution to prosperity.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are ethnically Turkish youth ages 15-35 that have been residing in the northern part of Cyprus their entire life but are not officially recognized as Cypriot citizens by the Republic of Cyprus.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

This idea is unique on a variety of levels. First, is the target group of "settlers" which are a highly marginalized group, viewed as illegal occupiers by the two main communities in Cyprus. While other initiatives focus on Greek/ Turkish Cypriot citizens, working to understand this community goes widely ignored. Additionally, our main objective is unique in the sense that we aim to create dialogue at many different levels through traveling exhibitions of the artwork created. Within the "settler" community, Cypriot society and internationally. Our goal is to build a platform for the visual voices established during the project. Although we are a new NGO we benefit from considerable experience working with artists and civil society initiatives internationally and within Cyprus. Having been involved in other peacebuilding initiatives in Cyprus we have connections to the the target audience. Concerning the local political context, we have experience dealing with key stakeholders.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

VIVOs is currently being registered as an NGO in Cyprus. Although the organization has yet to establish itself within the peacebuilding scene, the two founders have considerable experience in the field. This includes both academic and practical experience. As an organization, the primary aim is to introduce arts-based peacebuilding through collaborations with local organizations functioning in post-conflict or frozen conflict societies. Website to be developed.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • No, but we plan to register in the future.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The VIVOs founders are true believers in the power of art and culture to contribute to stronger understanding, cooperation and social cohesion. Having worked together on such programs in Cyprus, they decided to found an organization with an international reach. One that promotes cooperation in it's very structure, while aiming to build opportunities for greater peace promoting collaborations around the world. Fading Divide inspires understanding, where division has amplified misunderstanding.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Within this specific context, the promotion of peace is clear. Cyprus has been in a frozen, although technically unresolved, conflict since 1974. The official narratives of both communities serve to perpetuate the conflict. Although civil society has made great advancements, there is a need for greater intervention at the community level. Even now, the UN forces in Cyprus have recommended greater civil society involvement in reestablishing greater social cohesion. One of our core beliefs is that peace promotes prosperity, they go hand in hand. We also believe that prosperity comes in many forms. Giving a voice to those who promote peace, cooperation and understanding; are all contributions that we consider to be building prosperity within society. Especially in the context of Cyprus, an affluent nation, the best contribution to prosperity would be a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Thus we believe that our contribution is inherently valuable to society and increases prosperity.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We envision four main groups in which we will work with for this project. These include the "settler" community, professional artists, psychologists and galleries. We will work with members of the "settler" community first to identify possible candidates and then as the main participants. Professional artists will work directly with youth to build their artistic skills and help to create aesthetically pleasing final products. Psychologists will be made available to reduce the risk of any negative mental/ emotional challenges faced by participating youth. This is not only an ethical consideration but an important element to ensure that participants effectively reflect on their experience. Lastly, we will partner with galleries and museums to ensure that the final works are properly curated and made available to the public both locally and abroad. From this process, we believe that the result will be very well developed and meaningful art that promotes understanding between groups.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Our community is perfect for this because of the nature of the conflict. It is on-going but non-violent, with the ability to travel between communities and freely share the results. Additionally, there are many "settler" youth that are readily available to take part in such activities. Similarly, there is growing interest in peacebuilding initiatives, especially by the artistic community. This means that we have a suitable setting and available partners.

Geographic Focus

The project will take place in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project will be completed over a 12 month span including preparation, implementation and dissemination.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


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