Creative Europe funding 2014 – 2020 * £14.7 billion + £1.46 billion!


Creative Europe funding 2014 – 2020 * £14.7 billion + £1.46 billion!

Recently, Raj Patel, Relationship Manager Children, Young People and Learning at Arts Council England, suggested I write about my experiences with the EU funding system and my thoughts about the new programmes which have just come on line under the title Creative Europe.

Opera Circus successfully led a two year Cultural programme called Wake Up using EU funding, some €92,000. In addition, we found the same sum in match funding and since then have also led a couple of Youth in Action programmes, the latter now called Erasmus +.  [Youth in Action will be still be called the Youth programme but it is now under the umbrella of Erasmus Plus, alongside the other programmes such as Leonardo da Vinci, Grundtvig, etc.]

Simply Human, the last event in the EU Cultural Project, Wake Up – youth cultural leaders from Srebrenica and Suceska in Bosnia, presenting their political challenges to the All Party Committee on Bosnia at the Houses of Parliament.


I am an artist who runs a chamber opera company that also does a significant amount of development work, which is also called ‘education’, ‘engagement’, ‘participation’, or whatever is the currently approved terminology. Who decides when the description of a process changes anyway?

I am not an accountant nor a manager, but an artist who co-founded a music/opera theatre company 22 years ago with a group of other opera singers. I notice I’ve already mentioned the word artist twice in only a couple of sentences. I have to keep reminding myself that’s who I am to stop drowning in a sea of funding applications, CPR checks, social engineering and bureaucracy.

We started the company because we wanted to sing arias no one would pay us to sing, travel widely and create our own work, particularly if it involved physical theatre, clowning and some, questionable, acrobatics.  But it worked and we revelled in touring all over the world with our own productions, some  winning awards. Our next production is a new chamber opera called Naciketa, with the inspirational composer Nigel Osborne and playwright Ariel Dorfman.

Darren Abrahams and Andy Morton, Naciketa work in progress at Opera North, Leeds.


I applied for the first EU Culture programme grant in 2009 with the help of someone who knew their way around Euro-speak and who had worked in Brussels.  We were successful for a number of reasons. Anne was experienced with EU forms including budget spreadsheets. I knew the work we wanted to create inside out and we had established partners whom I trusted.  We also liked each other, which helped during the endless hours sitting in front of a computer. I had to find a couple of thousand pounds to pay for the invaluable guidance.

Geoffrey Brown, the EU funding guru [who runs Euclid*], said at a recent funding seminar, that the British are very good at applying for EU funding, and our success rate is much higher than most other countries which apply. On the other hand the number of us who actually apply is very low. We are also good at providing a wide variety of partners and we are creative in our choices. We innately understand that to have only France and Germany involved is not as interesting as, for instance, Lithuania, Portugal and Turkey.

Geoffrey talked about the importance of ‘The Idea’ and ‘The Partners’; get these right and the forms are not so bad.  I would also add, one must truly understand what the EU means by ‘financial reporting’.  Their rules and regulations about the invoicing, receipts, signatures and everything else they require before they release 1 Euro, are beyond anything we ever have to manage in the UK in terms of our accounting.  And they don’t really understand the word freelance! They refuse to pay an incorrectly submitted invoice, for instance, one that doesn’t have a signature on it. They refuse to pay anything that you haven’t identified and itemised in the original application and they will only pay the final third of the grant once all your technical and financial reporting has been approved. This is the case, no matter how successful your project. The Brussels office is also late with practically everything they say they are going to do, including paying the first and last tranche of the funding for the project. Our first payment was 2 months late, so make sure your project start date is well in the future and that you have sufficient cash-flow to survive the late delivery of the final tranche at the end of the project. This also goes for the British Council who are the new UK contact point for Erasmus Plus (working with Ecorys). Another useful organisation is SALTO.

The second event in Wake Up, the first ever performance of a live opera in Srebrenica Bosnia, with Nigel Osborne’s Differences in Demolition. There were speeches beforehand in the Cultural Centre.  The then British Ambassador, Michael Tatham, watches as Milena Nikolic, the President of the Youth Council at that time, talks about the aims of the Young Cultural Leaders in the town and the work of the Youth Council and Youth Centre.


Good partners bring wonderful gifts to everything you do; they inspire, they generously contribute skills you may not have and they provide support and strength. They also sometimes deliver on their promised match funding contribution, but sometimes they don’t.  Really good partners remain so for ever. We are lucky enough to have that with Youth Council in Srebrenica, Bosnia and with Teater Mimart in Belgrade, Serbia, both of whom were involved in Wake Up.

The EU grant enabled us to run this 2 year programme of exceptional events in the Netherlands, Austria, Belgrade, Srebrenica and Bridport, Dorset.  At the end of the project we estimated that about 10 million people had heard about the work. We inspired large groups of young people in the Srebrenica region of Bosnia, in Belgrade and Dorset, and 31 Ambassadors got to see our last opera performed in concert at the Hofburg Palace, Vienna.  None of this would have happened without EU funding. We also thank the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) who were the most generous and supportive of partners, the British Embassy and the British Council, BiH, Serbia and Austria.

We have run a series of youth programmes through Youth in Action, in Bosnia and Bridport, all of which have full reports on our web site.  These were as successful as the events above, involving hundreds of young people, helping them to develop skills, learning tolerance and what global citizenship means and becoming more engaged in culture and the arts.

Poul Smidt, Diplomatic Advisor to the EU President in BiH, talking with a group of youth leaders from Bridport and Dorchester, Dorset and Srebrenica, Bratunac, Milici and Suceska at a lunch at the restaurant Bato in Srebrenica town.

Our first Youth in Action funded project Like a Film in My Mind began as an evaluation of Simply Human and a big celebration of the importance of culture and the arts to inspire communities. The second was a Job Shadowing process with Hariz Alic, Director of the Suceska Youth Centre and Nemanja Zekic, Director of the Srebrenica Youth Centre.

The final day of Like a Film in My Mind at the Youth Centre in Srebrenica

There was a period after the endless grappling with the EU office over a final tranche of our grant, that I thought, never again.  But, a year later I look at the new Creative Europe guidelines and see that they have become more flexible. They also allow for more creativity, and we can now engage our Indian partners as the guidelines are open to a new category of Associate Partner, who can be from anywhere in the world.

Exploring Naciketa with partners Vidya Sagar, Chennai and the Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry in India – artists include Nigel Osborne, composer, Darren Abrahams, Prakriti Dutta, Simon Thacker and Embar Kannen, singers and instrumentalists.


There is €1.46 billion available over 7 years for creative work in the arts, culture and the creative industries. In addition, the Erasmus Plus programme provides €14.7 billion for both projects and small-scale mobility activities that are focused on education, training, young people and sport – and some of this is granted by the British Council in the UK, so is a little easier to access than submitting applications to Brussels . They are keen for us to develop audiences, inspire innovation, create lots of projects with young people and encourage employment through developing new skills. I also know that in 2015, ACE is going to help with some match funding as investment that will make tackling this difficult aspect of any project budget a lot easier.

In the Cultural funds there are two programmes, small and large. The small one offers a maximum of €200,000, which can be no more than 60% of the total budget and the large one up to €2 million which can be 50% of the budget.

If you want to be really connected with a web site that knows what’s going on join Connexus* and try to attend one of Geoffrey Brown’s seminars on EU funding, which are clear and simple and remove some of the fear. Once the British Council have caught up with the new funding guidelines, you can contact them as well.

Geoffrey Brown has agreed to come to Dorset and give artists and cultural organisations their own seminar and it’s reasonably priced. Dorset County Council, in their continuing support of the rich creative and cultural life in this county, has offered some funding to help cover the costs.

Applying is hard work and again I will have to find someone to guide me through some of the process, but how can I complain that there is no money for art when there are these cultural riches in Brussels aimed at artists and encouraging them to create new work? And the new funding is flexible enough for us to apply for the costs of the new opera’s production and its first tour, and will allow participation with all our partners, including those in India.  There is no choice but to apply.

Lidjia Antonovic, photographer from Belgrade, Maja Djukanovic, Steve Tompkin, UK Architect and Nela Antonovic, Director Teater Mimart, Belgrade.  At the Youth Centre in Srebrenica after a discussion of the importance of cultural spaces.

 All photographs and film by Robert Golden, except India which was taken by Maximilian Lutoslawski. With thanks.




Elephant 2 montage by Sam Birt

We applied to “pitch” Naciketa at the 66th ISPA Congress in New York and were accepted, one of ten companies from Australia, US, Sydney and Argentina, Opera Circus, being the only British company.  Thanks to the British Council Scotland we were able to invite Nigel Osborne, the composer of this new chamber opera, to present his work,  with Tina Ellen Lee, the artistic director and producer for Opera Circus and supported by international producer, Gillian Newson.

It was an impressive event and we received much positive feedback from some of the 450 international presenters and producers who attended.  We reprint below the text of Tina’s presentation.  Nigel spoke without notes, see film 2 below.  ISPA will be putting the presentations up on line in a couple of weeks and we will link this web page to theirs so you can see both our pitch and those of the other artists. We would like to give special thanks to our international producer Gillian Newson and to Nicole Merritt, the organiser of the ISPA Congress for their support on this visit.

Please find below three short films made by Robert Golden.  We used films numbers 1 and 3 in New York because we had Nigel with us. Number 2 was made incase Nigel was unable to come.

The Pitch:

Opera Circus is a chamber opera company based in the UK. We commissioned Naciketa in 2010 with the support of the Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and a number of other foundations and donors.*

The music of Naciketa is written by the British composer Nigel Osborne and the libretto by the Chilean/American playwright, Ariel Dorfman.  They are both renowned human rights activists and in the case of Nigel Osborne, an aid worker and a specialist in the uses of music for children with disability and in particular trauma as a result of war or conflict.  I am delighted Nigel Osborne is with us to talk about this new chamber opera, in particular the music.

Ariel Dorfman chose the story of Naciketa from the Brahmin texts of the Upanishads where the boy, Naciketa, discusses with Death, or Yama, what is truth, what is love and what is death?  Ariel expanded the original story and the tricks Naciketa plays on Death, as he travels out of India and the ancient world, into our modern world and its problems; to Africa and then to South America, meeting a child prostitute, a child soldier and two children of the Disappeared. The stories resonate with the life experiences of both artists.

Here on film are some extracts of both the opera and the original musical sketchbook commissioned by the Scottish guitarist Simon Thacker and recorded with his award winning musical ensemble Svara-Kanti. The extracts were taken from the album Rakshasa. This is followed by some music recorded early during the first work in progress rehearsals with Opera North in Leeds, UK. This is a read through not a performance.

Film 1

Apart from the R and D with Opera North we have also developed the work in villages in South India and with a small number of work in progress performances at the Clore Studio, Royal Opera House in London, at Edinburgh University, Opera North in Leeds and at Bridport Arts Centre, Bridport in Dorset. This was to enable us to work with a participatory audience and to gauge their reactions to the opera during the developmental process. In London last October we completed a four week work in progress period at the Jerwood Space, with the Indian director Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry.

Film 2

The score of Naciketa is to be published by the music publishers, Universal Edition.  We have partners, venues and festivals in India and the UK interested in the production with other international opportunities.  We are represented in India by the pre-eminent cultural producer, Sanjoy Roy.

We have a flexible workshop and educational programme that is adaptable and can be a part of any residency, tour or performance programme.

We have been on an extraordinary cultural journey researching and developing the opera with our Indian and UK partners.   We are seeking co-producers interested in having a stake in the artistic development of the opera, presenters and/or co-commissioners. We would like to collaborate with others to achieve the world premiere of Naciketa and to develop international touring.

This final short film is also from the research process.

Film 3


Will Conway conductor with Hebrides Ensemble, Simon Thacker, Sarvar Sabri and Embar Kannen.

Nadine Mortimer Smith, Lore Lixenberg, Prakriti Dutta, Darren Abrahams, Andy Morton, Benjamin Cahn, Peter Willcock, Mark Meadows, Anthony Ingle, JP Gandhy and Di Sherlock.

International Producers:  Gillian Newson and Nelson Fernandez.

* With thanks for all the support to date from:- Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Foyle Foundation, Opera North, Britten Pears Foundation, Leche Trust, Vernon Ellis Foundation, RVW Trust, Binks Trust, University of Edinburgh, Royal Opera House, Hebrides Ensemble, Garrick Club Charitable Trust, The Rumi Foundation, Hope Scott Trust, British Council India and Scotland, Teamwork Productions, Radcliffe Trust and a number of individuals whom we thank for their advice and generosity.

There will be more information on this web site soon about Naciketa and other programmes we are running in 2014 and 2015.

We are redesigning the web site at the moment so please forgive the patchy information.





New web site information in process


There will be updated information about our new work in 2014/2015 on this web site soon. For any queries concerning Naciketa please contact Tina Ellen Lee on

We are in New York at the International Society of Performing Arts 66th Congress pitching Naciketa, the new contemporary opera by Nigel Osborne and Ariel Dorfman from 11th – 15th January 2014.



Home in Bridport continues to grow, providing film, photography, art and cookery workshops at the Children’s Centre, next to St. Mary’s and at Sir John Colfox School.  The creative work produced will be part of an exhibition at Bridport Art’s Centre in May 2014 as part of their 40th year celebrations.

An ever growing group of partner organisations and individuals are contributing and creating under the Home umbrella led by Transition Town Bridport and Opera Circus.  These two organisations are voluntarily fund raising for Home and have recently been successful in obtaining two grants, TTB from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£7,250) and Opera Circus through Awards for All (£8,500).  We have also received a grant from WDDC (£2000) and last year from Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Dorset, (£1000)

Rebecca Garner in her garden in Skilling, Bridport

The HLF funding is being used to create a documentary about the original design of Skilling as a garden suburb, built to provide homes and work for soldiers returning from the first world war.  The film will be made by pupils from Colfox led by film maker and photographer, Robert Golden.  Robert’s exhibition HOME, at BAC in August 2012, inspired Home in Bridport.

The film will include historical research and teaching at Colfox as part of their Media Studies course.  Home is developing the Arts Awards programme to give the young participants valuable independent studies for their coursework.

The Awards for All grant is being used to help fund the Saturday workshops at the Children’s Centre, fees and materials for those teaching with food and cookery as part of the workshops leading to a free lunch for everyone involved.  A4A will also contribute to the costs of the exhibition at Bridport Arts Centre.

Each week the food provided is generously given by local shops – Washingpool Farm, Jaxsons and Fruits of the Earth.

Communities Living Sustainably in Dorset, through Dorset Community Action, are in discussion with Home to partner on the St. Mary’s school garden project, the documentary and the ideas for the “greening” of Skilling and Court Orchard, led by Transition Town Bridport.

With thanks to all our supporters and those who are contributing with their time and expertise.



LIKE A FILM IN MY MIND, Youth and School’s exchange project Bridport and Srebrenica Bosnia and Herzegovina – A YOUTH IN ACTION programme. March/April 2013. 

A montage of activity at the Town Hall Bridport on August 20th.

On the 20th August the Mayor of Bridport played host at the Town Hall to a Bridport-Srebrenica information evening designed and led by a group of young people determined to build a strong partnership between the two towns. Charlotte Symonds, Katy Bird, Molly Foster and Millie Langdon had all visited Srebrenica in Bosnia earlier in the year as members of a Youth in Action project set up by Bridport resident Tina Ellen Lee, Director of Opera Circus. They were joined by Ben Morgan and Casper Hulacki who had also been on the trip along with Abraham Baldry and Rory Newbery.

Guests at the event were led by the Mayor Cllr Maggie Ray and the Past Mayor Dave Rickard with David Powell supporting the Bridport and Srebrenica schools and Rights Respecting initiatives. The guests included representatives from some key local charities, school leaders and town councillors who heard the the young people, Tina, David Powell and other project members describe their visit to Srebrenica. There was also a discussion about how the projects could move forward and the support that was needed from the town.

Visiting Srebrenica High School

Like a Film in my Mind (LAFIMM) is a Youth in Action project with young people participating in a cultural exchange between the towns of Bridport, Dorset and Srebrenica, BiH. It started in March of this year and the participants came from the Sir John Colfox School,  Departure Arts, the Dorset County Council and the British Red Cross, along with new partners from Bryanston School Dorset and Prodigal Theatre from Brighton.  The international partners included Teater Mimart from Serbia, Theatre Maska from Romania and the Youth Centre and Youth Council of Srebrenica.  The project is led by Opera Circus and their director, Tina Ellen Lee. LAFIMM was a celebration of culture and youth activities and followed on from the previous project ‘Simply Human’ that took place in Bridport in 2012 as part of an EU two year cultural programme called ‘Wake Up’.

Presentations and welcome hospitality at Srebrenica High School

Leading on from LAFIMM are many new opportunities for all participants involved. Schools exchanges have now been confirmed between the Sir John Colfox School, Symondsbury Primary School, and Bridport Primary School with schools in Srebrenica, Zvornik and Skelani in Bosnia. Six teachers from the three Bosnian schools will be coming to Bridport on November 29th until December 8th to work with the Bridport schools in a mutual learning process.  Nemanja Zukic, the new young director of the Youth Centre in Srebrenica and a colleague, are coming to Bridport from October 17th to November 6th as part of a Youth in Action job shadowing programme. They will job shadow in Bridport, Bournemouth, Plymouth and London.  There will be a full report shortly about the progress of the Srebrenica and Bridport Youth Team’s Project Park Mira, which aims to build a children’s play area in Srebrenica.  This last project was inspired by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 31 states:-

• That every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

With thanks to the Mayor of Bridport and Town Council, in particular Linda Bullock and Bob Gillies, for making this possible and to Leakers, Art Brew, West Milton Cider, New End Farm, Eddie Colfox, Framptons the Butchers, Lilliputs and all the wonderful volunteers.

With special thanks to Robert Golden for all the film and photography, except the two photographs in Srebrenica High School.

NEWS – Bridport and Srebrenica



The Town Mayor of Bridport, Cllr Maggie Ray and the Bridport Youth Council have invited many people from the town of Bridport to share and participate in a programme of youth and school’s cultural exchange activities between Bridport and the town of Srebrenica.  The evening will include a celebration of the recent Youth in Action project, Like a Film in My Mind,  between young people from Bridport and Srebrenica. The partners for this project were Sir John Colfox School, Departure Arts, Dorset County Council and the British Red Cross, Education and Humanities, Dorset, the Srebrenica Youth Council, Crea Thera, Srebrenica, Brussels and the Netherlands, Teater Mimart, Serbia and Theatre Maska, Romania. The project also included Bryanston School in Dorset and Prodigal Theatre from Brighton UK.   The event takes place on the evening of August 20th at Bridport’s Town Hall.  Bosnian and Dorset specialities will be prepared by participants from the Home in Bridport cookery workshops.  We would like to thank Artbrew who have donated some of their wonderful beer from their micro brewery near Bridport, Transition Town Bridport and to the Town Council for their support.

The evening will be led by two youth leaders, Charlotte Symonds and Katy Bird who both participated in the Youth in Action project in Srebrenica, Bosnia in March/April of this year.  They will be joined by Millie Langdon, representing the Bridport Youth Council, Molly Foster, Ben Morgan and Caspar Hulacki, all of whom also took part in the trip to Bosnia.

Youth in Action Project 2 – Job Shadowing – Bridport/Srebrenica

A second Youth in Action project will begin on October 18th when Nemanja Zekic and Nino Sekulic will travel to the UK to take part in a 19 day job shadowing project with a number of youth centres and youth arts organisations. Youth Centres in Bridport, Lyme Regis and Bournemouth will participate along with Opera Circus (lead organiser) and Phakama UK. The principle partner in Bosnia is the Youth Council and Youth Centre, Srebrenica. More to come on this.

Visit to Srebrenica 12 – 16th September

Tina Ellen Lee, Artistic Director of Opera Circus, along with the film director Robert Golden will accompany the international cultural architect Steve Tompkins and the arts consultant Kate Tyndall on a visit to Srebrenica. This visit will coincide with a new look Silver Town Shine Youth Festival which is being held on the 14th and 15th August.  The visit is to discuss the uses of cultural spaces with youth activities with the support of partners, the Youth Council and Youth Centre in Srebrenica as well as an opportunity to catch up on all the current youth activities.

 Schools exchange programme Bridport with Srebrenica, Skelani and Zvornik

Letters of invitation to participate in a long term school’s exchange programme have been sent from Bridport Primary School to Zvornik Elementary school, from Salwayash Primary School to Skelani’s Elementary School and from Sir John Colfox School to the Srebrenica High School.  The first visit of two teachers from each school to Bridport will be from November 30th to December 8th 2013, if the full funding can be raised.

The visit to Zvornik School as part of the LAFIMM Project March 2013.

Visits from the Bridport and Symondsbury teachers to Srebrenica we hope will take place in Spring 2014 and the first students visit in the Autumn 2014.

Anyone wishing to contribute to this programme please contact Tina Ellen Lee at Opera Circus

Other News

We would like to congratulate Nemanja Zukic who has now been made Director of the Youth Centre in Srebrenica and look forward to working with him in developing joint activities for young people in both our towns and regions.

Nemanja translating for Rosie Russell during a workshop in Srebrenica

Mladen Kojic from Srebrenica successfully completed a 5 day Art Therapy course at Roehampton University, UK in July with many thanks to all those who made this possible including Bauern Helfern Bauern of Austria and BiH and the Mayor of the Municipality of Srebrenica.

10 young musicians from Srebrenica took part in Nigel Osborne’s Summer Music Camp at Rovinj and on Brijuni in July.  The camp is an annual two week learning process in the benefits of the uses of music for special needs children from Los Rosales orphanage in Mostar and The School for Rehabilitation in Pula. Again thanks to Bauern Helfern Bauern and the Mayor of the Municipality of Srebrenica amongst many others that made this possible. Thanks to Vesna Djukic for helping to organise the project from Srebrenica. Most of all to Nigel Osborne for his continual inspiration.

Summer Camp on Brijuni

International Youth Theatre and Arts Festival in Dorset

Plans are slowly taking shape to develop a youth theatre festival in Dorset between August 24th and September 3rd 2014.  Bryanston School has offered the facilities of their beautiful school and grounds in order for this to happen and this includes a concert hall, theatre, workspaces, sports facilities and food and accommodation.  The first major funding application has gone to UNESCO and conversations are beginning to take place with all the partners of LAFIMM as well as others including Phakama UK. More news on this later in the year.

Parkour Event and Training

Discussions have just started between Prodigal Theatre and some of their partners with Opera Circus to develop a training programme for Parkour (UK or Bosnia) and an event in Srebrenica in the future. No dates or details as yet but the ideas are exciting and could involve Parkour companies in Denmark, Serbia and/or Ireland. More news soon.

Milena (Mikica) Nikolic

We would like to wish Mikica every luck and good fortune in her new ventures and adventures and to thank her for her incredible hard work in helping to deliver a number of highly successful EU and British Council projects with Opera Circus as the Director of the Youth Centre and President of the Youth Council in Srebrenica. We hope there will be many different ways of working together in the future.

A Big Give button will appear soon for all those who wish to donate to some or all of these projects.

Thank you to everyone who has helped develop all this work, to George Nickson for all his logistical support and organisational skill and to the Youth in Action team for their support amongst many others.




“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a
European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it
is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of
mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by
tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand
violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any
political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total
understanding of mankind.” Jiddu Krishnamurti

From March 28th – 31st a whole host of organisations, young people, artists, musicians and others came to Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina to develop cultural activities together.  A full report is available below and the short film by Robert Golden is on this web site.  It was an extraordinary and vital 4 days in which over 400 people of all ages participated and proved without any doubt whatsoever that culture and the arts brings a community alive, fills people with hope and adds to the economy of a small town.

From a youth leader 23, Srebrenica, BiH,
It is hard to put in words, how I’ve felt after arriving to my home-town on Friday night. By the time I arrived you’ve already shaken the community to its core and I knew something special is happening. My Tina was reporting to me about magical things and how many people are enjoying their time and about the energy being spread around the town and amongst the people.. I simply wanted to thank you for everything. I thank you for taking the time of your busy schedules and coming to Bosnia and Herzegovina to share your ideas, creativity, open minds and energy. It is invaluable experience and unique sense of belonging to something bigger then we all are. I thank you for judgmental-free approach, for your warm hearts and good will you brought with yourself. I thank you for good chats and fantastic laughter….

Milena Nikolic President of the Youth Council, Mollie Foster and Aleksandra Jovanovic at the Youth Centre in Srebrenica

I also wanted you to know that regardless on commitments you might have or haven’t made during this period, this experience alone has shown how powerful human will is, and how people, despite of different backgrounds, cultures and histories share the same vision and the unique language of basic generosity and humanity which I, and I believe many others, desperately need to believe in again. On my way back to Sarajevo I was thinking how much good was done in only 2 days, let alone in 4 and imagine how much more in 10 days can be done….prioritizing life rather then death, children and laughter rather than looking back and education and culture rather than holding grudges has fulfilled my and senses of everybody involved in one way or another on unimaginable way.

The report of LAFIMM can be found here :-LAFIMM Short Review (2.1)

Forum Theatre process led by Ljubica Ristic and Daisy Dugmore
For me personally it was very important that every single person in this process was acknowledged for its uniqueness and difference and was taken into the group as a part of something joyful and massive. We in fact do not need to be the same, rather on contrary, its important to enrich and embrace each others in our differences while respecting other people’s liberties as someone smart already said.  I was reminded one more time whats important and thank you for digging it up one more time and inspiring me to look up to the things you and so many other people are doing around the globe. I wish my English is better but I somehow hope that at least a simple Thank You From The Bottom Of My Heart – is understood.  I hope to see some of you again, have cup of coffee or tea, or why not rakija :)
Millie Langdon, Molly Foster and Katy Bird from Sir John Colfox School presenting the Bridport Town Shield to the Biljana Rakic, Deputy Mayor of Srebrenica from the Mayor and Mayoress of Bridport on behalf of the Town and its people.

So far we know that over 3,025,000 people heard about the project through Radio Free Europe, the British Council BiH, Opera Circus and other partner web sites, twitter, Facebook and other media outlets.  Please spread the word.

Children at the elementary school in Srebrenica learning how to be a good audience

With thanks to all the official partners, the Youth Council and Youth Centre Srebrenica BiH Teater Mimart, Serbia, Theatre Maska, Romania, Crea Thera, Belgium, Netherlands and Srebrenica, from Dorset, Departure Arts, Dorset County Council, British Red Cross, Education and Humanities, Sir John Colfox School, Bryanston School, and with Prodigal Theatre UK, Nigel Osborne, Tony Pesikan, Claude Kieffer, Robert Golden for all the beautiful photography and film.  In Srebrenica, the Municipality, the Elementary and High Schools, Potocari Music School and Bauern Helfern Bauern, Leptir, Association for Handicapped Children, SARA, The Cultural Centre, Srebrenica, Orchidea and the school at Skelani, the High School at Bratunac, and the Elementary Schools at Zutica and Zvornik. To all the team at the Youth Centre in Srebrenica for their amazing hard work and energy and to Fetus for their constant inspiration through youth theatre.

Nigel Osborne making music as always

The workshop leaders, facilitators, teachers and artists Nigel Osborne, Toni Pesikan, Darren Abrahams, Daisy Dugmore, James Piriou, Katy Scott, Ruth Eastwood, David Powell, Nela Antonovic, Ljubica Beljanski-Ristic, Claude Kieffer, Calin Sabic, Florentine Dadal, Alister O’Laughlin, Miranda Henderson, George Nickson, Rosie Russell.

There are too many young people to mention everyone but in particular Jelena, Nemanja, Casper, Ben, Filip, Aleksandra, Maja, Verica, Tanja, Tina, Rory, Ruaraidh, Katy, Millie, Abraham, Amela, Molly, Charlotte, Nino, Hariz, Vesna, Denis…..I will add the rest and more news later.  Thank you to all of you.

The Youth Centre Team in Srebrenica organising the project together

We would like to thank Poul Smidt the Political Advisor from the Delegation of the European Union to Bosnia and Herzegovina and European Union Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina for coming to have lunch in Srebrenica on his day off and for giving an interesting and human perspective on the importance of young people believing in the future of the EU.

Lunch at Bato’s with Mr. Smidt and the young cultural leaders from BiH and the UK

Thank you also for the interest and time given by the H.E. Ambassador Nigel Casey from the British Embassy in Sarajevo and the Director of the British Council in Sarajevo Amila Lagumdzija.

We would also like to thank everyone in Srebrenica for their hospitality in particular Abdullah and Avdo at the Pansion Misriljie and to the restaurants Bato and Omer’s.  Thank you to all the taxis and drivers for their kindness and efficiency and in particular to Dragan and his team at and to Vlada for his immense patience in helping us to organise all our travel from Via Connect, Vladimir Zivkovic
Via Connect, Svetozara Markovica 68, 11000 Beograd, mob: 063 333009

All film and photography by Robert Golden

Watch this space for the film about Like a Film in My Mind…coming soon

” the content of the publication is the sole responsibility of the publisher and that the European Commission is not liable for any use that maybe made of the information.”

Cultural Diplomacy Connects People


Nigel Osborne making music at Vidya Sagar Chennai

In a world torn apart by conflict, culture can serve as a way to connect with people who might otherwise be at bitter odds.

The Director General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Suresh Kumar Goel, has made it a point to use cultural diplomacy to fill in the blanks left empty by more politicised approaches.

“Cultural diplomacy is more effective at a basic level, because, unlike other forms, it can be non-intrusive, non-competitive, and can be done without threatening the other side,” Goel, a 1978- batch IFS officer, said.

“The idea of diplomacy is to develop understanding between nations. And the prerequisite of that is for people to talk to each other.”

Goel described the experience of the United States in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, which changed their approach towards the world.

“What can happen is that, when there is a situation of conflict, it can involve prejudices on either side, based on their individual value systems,” he added.

But what happened was that the US became obsessed with Islamic radicalisation, which led to more militancy.

“Now people are looking to a more inclusive approach, one not based on the clash of civilisations.”

Goel is heading the Council presently, which was conceptualised by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad as a way to expose Indians Indians to the world culture while also giving the world an opportunity to experience Indian traditions.

“Cultural diplomacy goes beyond just being ‘a bridge between peoples.’

“Instead, it promotes strong linkages,” Goel said.

Particularly in places where there might be a question of conflict, he said that cultural relations work as a way to promote dialogue as a response.

Prakritti Dutta, Lore Lixenberg and Darren Abrahams, rehearsing a work in progress performance of Naciketa at Opera North.

“It lubricates the process of dialogue,” he said.  This is done by providing platforms to traditions from all over the world.

Recently, the Council organised a much-discussed Sufi festival, bringing musicians from places like Iran, Spain and Azerbaijan, and up next is the annual Jazz fest.

Meanwhile, it has conferences planned in Germany and the United States.

The Director General – whose career has seen diplomatic postings in Singapore, Egypt, South Africa and UN, among others – has also pushed for establishment of academic chairs in international universities, sending Indian scholars to promote research abroad.

“Establishing these chairs allows us to explore ideas together with other cultures.”

The advent of social media has also impacted the work of ICCR.“The effect of social media has been to encourage awareness and appreciation of the way we have been connecting people from even before the advent of YouTube or things like that. It strengthens our hand,” Goel said.

“It serves to bring people together, to dissolve boundaries… ultimately, it’s about using leverage to connect people.”

Young cultural leaders from Srebrenica, Bosnia exploring photography and puppetry as part of an arts and cultural exchange programme in Bridport, Dorset UK.
See Simply Human elsewhere on this web site.
Taken from




Youth Leadership and Cultural Activities in Srebrenica, BiH:

Youth in the World, EU Youth in Action Programme, British Council, UK

Place: Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina                                  Date: 28 – 31 March 2013

From the 28th – 31 March 2013 a group of partners from BiH, Serbia, Romania, Belgium and the UK will meet with local partners in Srebrenica following on from the Simply Human Youth Exchange project and evaluation in Bridport,  April/May 2012.

Like a Film in My Mind will advance youth and school exchange opportunities, training programmes and youth cultural activities in Srebrenica and the surrounding region (Skelani, Suceska, Zvornik, Bratunac, Potocari, Milici and Srebrenica) and with Bridport, Blandford and Dorchester in Dorset, UK.

This project evolved from an evaluation process led by Anna Ledgard in Bridport, Dorset in 2012 with participation from 25 mainly young people from Srebrenica, Bratunac, Potocari, Suceska in Bosnia and Belgrade, Serbia.  A copy of the evaluation can be found on

The project is called Like a Film in My Mind after an email we received from one of the young cultural leaders in Srebrenica who had visited Bridport in Dorset as part of the Simply Human Youth Exchange programme.  The latter exchange programme was the final event in the Wake Up! EU Cultural Project 2010-2012.

The partners include:-

Youth Council, Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Teater Mimart, Belgrade, Serbia

Crea Thera, Music and Art Therapy, Belgium, Netherlands and Srebrenica, BiH

Sir John Colfox School, Bridport, Dorset UK

DepArture Arts as part of Dorset County Council, Dorset UK

Red Cross Education and Humanities Dorchester, Dorset UK

Theatre Maska, Bucharest, Romania

Opera Circus, UK

and local partners in the Srebrenica Region.  A full list to follow with the schedule and programme to be delivered.

We are delighted that Like a Film in My Mind links with the Youth Cultural and Arts Festival in Srebrenica which runs for the same four days and will present children and youth theatre companies from Banja Luka, Tuzla, Sremska Mitrovica, Srebrenica (FETUS) amongst others.  Theatre companies leading workshops and activities on the International Theatre Day on Sunday 31st March include Theatre Maska (Romania), Teater Mimart (Serbia), Opera Circus (UK) Prodigal Theatre UK and Fetus (BiH).  Bitef Poliphony Festival will be represented by their director, Ljubica Beljanski.

Full information will shortly be available on this web site and that of the Youth Council in Srebrenica                                        

For further information please contact:

Tina Ellen Lee

Artistic Director

Opera Circus

Tel: 0044 7785774909


Milena Nikolic


Youth Council Srebrenica






At the end of October a team of artists trained to use music to support the emotional and physical development of children and young people with special needs and trauma, went to Chennai for a week.

The residency involved a day long seminar on new techniques and skills using music with disability, teacher and carer training and the creation of a devised performance piece with the disabled young people called The Elements.

Led by the composer Nigel Osborne with opera singer Darren Abrahams, Dhrupad singer from Kolkata, Prakriti Dutta and Priyanka Devani, musician and facilitator, the week was so successful that there are plans to develop a new music theatre company for disability in Chennai with our partners Vidya Sagar.  We hope that a parallel production of Naciketa, our new chamber opera, will be created by them in time for the world premiere in India in November 2013.

Here are two reports from two of Indian’s distinguished newspapers.

We would like to thank the inspirational support of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations for making this trip possible.  We would also like to thank all the team at Vidya Sagar for making our stay such a pleasure and for their kindness and hospitality….and especially to all the children and young people who took part.