PACE is the snappy title of an EU-funded Erasmus+ project on Partnerships in Arts and Cultural Education which Leeds City Council International Relations is leading on. Through PACE we are connecting teachers and experts on cultural education from Leeds with partners in Lille (France), Dortmund (Germany), Malmö (Sweden) and Espoo (Finland). The aim of the project is to learn from best practice examples in cultural education and to build partnerships between the participating schools and cultural organisations in Leeds and the four partner cities.
After getting to know the participants from Lille, Dortmund, Malmö and Espoo in November 2017 during an initial two-day study visit coming to Leeds, a first group of primary and secondary school teachers and cultural education specialists from Leeds visited Lille in January 2018 to learn about programmes run by the primary school Philippe de Comines, the secondary school Collège du Moulins, the art gallery Palais des Beaux Arts, and the cultural centres Maison Folie Moulins and Flow.
Everything revolved around the colour blue at the primary school Philippe de Comines where artists are involved in delivering a cross-curricular programme that brings artistic practices to the class room from a very early age so that pupils develop an appreciation for the arts and learn how to express themselves. Next we experienced first-hand how the Collège du Moulins is improving its pupils’ learning experience and boosts self-confidence through bilingual arts classes for pupils to practice their English, choir lessons run by the city’s opera, and a weekly rhythm and dance class to make new pupils feel more comfortable at the school.
We were impressed by the art gallery that develops a biennial “Kids’ Arts” exhibition with pupils of all ages who get to present their artistic work to the whole city in one of Lille’s most prestigious fine arts spaces. Equally, were amazed by Lille’s cultural centres Maison Folie Moulins and Flow that are all about community engagement and urban arts. The Maison Folie offers workshops where local communities can get hands-on experience using modern tech such as 3D-printing, while Flow is home to hip hop, graffiti and rap, teaching local youth to master the urban arts.
All participants have come back with great ideas for future projects with their partners in Lille and we are looking forward to equally rewarding study visits to Dortmund, Malmö and Espoo in March.