about the LEVER project
by the six project leaders.
Interfolk, Institute for Civil Society
The LEVER project meets a societal need to apply voluntary culture to revive the local communities in sparsely populated areas. We see new possibilities in engaging voluntary culture associations and their volunteers in the Baltic Sea region to provide available and involving arts and culture activities with an added value for civic and democratic participation and community bonding. Interfolk is delighted to be part of a Nordic NGO project that intends to promote “cultural inclusion and sustainability” in a civil society context, where “citizen help citizen”.
Hans Jørgen Vodsgaard, Head of Institute
National Association of Cultural Councils in Denmark
All over the world we talk about people moving from rural to urban areas and that the population
in the rural area is getting smaller and smaller. We believe that art and culture can help to curb this trend. Art and culture can give quality to the way we live together and help us to create an identity and a sense of belonging to an area. Through art and culture the local population will increasingly be able to identify themselves with the place where they live, young people might want to return to the village when they have been educated and in the longer term it might be possible to create offers that would attract other interested as newcomers and tourists.
We think that the most appropriate way to fulfill this need is to use the idea of "people helping people", where people through volunteerism can be their own culture suppliers and in that way together create the cultural activities and thus feel greater ownership and accountability for them.
Bente von Schindel, Secretary General
Finnish Swedish Youth Association
Despite the depopulation of rural areas, culture and arts are alive and are becoming increasingly important for people to stay. Associations have begun to realize that arts and culture is important for growth and survival. By preserving and creating new cultural activities and other leisure activity in rural areas and by introducing these methods for other NGO´s, we strive to maintain a viable swedish countryside in Finland.
Tomas Järvinen,General Manager
Foundation of Alternative Educational Initiatives
Culture and arts have the power to change, to involve, to integrate, to make lives better and more aware. We believe that culture is the most important element of the identity of the local communities. Through the culture the communities build their feeling of belonging and consolidate. The material culture – handicraft - is the strength of many rural, sparsely populated areas and it may enhance attractiveness of those areas.
What could help the sparsely populated areas develop are strong, active local communities. We have experienced that supporting NGOs and informal groups of citizens, the local cultural animators and leaders, helps the local communities to develop. Through the LEVER project realization we would like to better learn how to support these two areas.
Agnieszka Dadak, President
Lithuanian Castles and Manors association
Manors were cultural centers in the past. The majority of castles and manors were in rural areas in Lithuania. Nowadays they are reborn from new. They are becoming centers for local communities again. Our association members are engaged in the voluntary activities, which are related to cultural heritage in rarely populated areas. We organize various concerts, art plenaries, exhibitions and etc. Members of our association continuously carries out cultural activities involved society, local inhabitans. We observe that cultural activities works as a leverage. It becomes a indirect regional economic development engine.
Regina Žirgulevičienė, Vice President
"United Way" Belarusian Republican Non-Governmental Organization
The importance of the implementation of the LEVER project in Belarus lies in the fact that the complex partner approach based on the experience of our neighbours such as Lithuania, Poland, as well as experience of Nordic countries will help to mitigate outflow of human resources from small villages in remote areas and demonstrate to local authorities and population the opportunities arising due to support and development of human potential.
Alicia Shibitskaya, Executive Director
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