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Permission to Wonder: The EU Lab

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We are delighted to announce that the first of the EU lab’s funding applications has been successful. Titled ‘Permission to Wonder’, the focus of the project is on visual arts learning which supports school and adult learning in formal and informal education settings.

The proposal led by Liz Coman (Assistant Arts Officer for Dublin City Council) and Sheena Barrett (Curator of Dublin City Council’s LAB Gallery) with EU partners has been a long journey. The team have been working with the EU Lab, developing an application for the Erasmus+ strand of European Funding, since July 2016.

‘Permission to Wonder’ revolves around visual arts learning and builds on working with schools in the North East Inner City. The project aims to establish a strategic transnational partnership in Europe that will enable partners from 6 EU countries to develop a structure and methodology for schools to use Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) as a method in the field of Visual Arts Education. Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) transforms the way students think and learn. Based in theory and research, VTS as an organisation offers a training programme that builds capacity for skilled facilitation of visual art discussions to significantly increase student engagement, performance, and enjoyment of learning.

The European Partners include:

Ireland – The Arts Office / LAB Gallery in Dublin

Nederland – VTS Nederland in Amsterdam

Finland – The Finnish Museum of Photography in Kaapelitehdas

Denmark – Muserum in Roskilde

Spain – CREA 360 in Cocentaina

Slovenia – The Slovenian Association of Fine Arts Societies in Ljubljana

Associated Partners:

National Council for Curriculum Assessment (NCCA)

Hugh Lane Gallery

Opening of the exhibition IAWAST. Photo by Peter Varga, courtesy of The LAB Gallery.
Opening of the exhibition IAWAST. Photo by Peter Varga, courtesy of The LAB Gallery.

Liz had been looking at the Erasmus+ application process and criteria before working with the EU Lab but found the time constraints, language and criteria often difficult.

The EU Lab was created as a response to the rigorous and time-consuming application process for EU funding programmes. It aims to increase the number of successful EU-funding applications across Dublin City, by supporting and encouraging participation in the process and developing their expertise in putting together often complex applications.

Liz Coman and her team were thrilled the application was successful and are looking forward to seeing the project play out:

‘Early on, we, the grown-ups, quickly learned how the method supported children to look and observe slowly, and also fostered a practice of deep listening, respectful and accepting of different perspectives. It allowed us as a gallery, and part of local authority, to learn from our young collaborators about their lives, relationships with others, their learning and their neighbourhood.

Through the facilitated VTS discussion the artwork is the stimulus for rigorous and enjoyable debate and discussion. The LAB Gallery shows work by emerging artists and established artists taking risks in their practice. Testing VTS with artwork, sometimes fresh from an artist’s studio opened a new way for us to explore this work with young audiences, as audiences in their own right. The training and support we have gotten from VTS in the USA has been invaluable in helping this to happen.

Over the past year, school partnerships and wider partnerships have grown from strength to strength. Three other local schools have come on board and are training in the method – St Vincent’s Boys Junior School, St Mary’s Fairview and Larkin Community College. We are also enjoying collaborating with the NCCA, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, IMMA, OPW, Trinity College and UCC College of Medicine and Health Science.’

Here’s a taster of things of the project being piloted:

The vision for the project is to have mechanisms and the capacity in each partner country to train teachers in the VTS method. This will foster critical thinking and for all learners to have access to learning materials that are regularly updated and available on-line. It is envisaged that this process of training and supporting teachers will be sustained well beyond the project lifetime. In the future, the methodology could be replicated in other EU countries and VTS training could be formalised with certification and mainstreamed into arts education courses.

The EU Lab aims to increase the number of successful EU-funding applications across Dublin City, by supporting and encouraging participation in the process and developing their expertise in putting together often complex applications. Find out more on the EU Lab HERE

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