The PASCO (Performing Arts Scene in Obrenovac) project has had significant effects on the cultural infrastructure in the Obrenovac municipality since the project started in 2009. Due to generous support both locally, Buskerud County in Norway and the KS funding programme of the Norwegian government, PASCO has had demonstrable economic, cultural and social impact on the region as follows:
* Increased numbers of young people trained in the creative industries;
* Increased mobility of young people and professional practitioners across Europe;
* Increased skills of teachers in the creative industries and performing arts;
* Increased numbers of small businesses and sole traders who are working in the cultural and creative sector;
* Increased use of the facilities at the Obrenovac Culture House and a consequent increase in spending on local facilities such as restaurants, bars and clubs etc;
* Increased funding released from the municipality on culturally related programmes
* Increased funding applications to European funding sources e.g. European Collaboration Fund, Balkans Incentive Fund, Youth in Action
* Increased activities which increase self esteem, confidence and sociability of young people attending centres for disabled people in the town;
* Increased social activities for young people both in and out of school;
* Increased interest from other municipalities in the PASCO model from neighbouring municipalities which has led to extension activities with other European partners e.g. in Grocka, Belgrade, Nis and other Serbian towns and cities.
* Increased learning opportunities for young people and teachers in schools in matters relating to the creative industries e.g. film, performance, project management, fundraising;
* Increased production capacity of films, theatre productions, dance productions and visual arts exhibitions;
* Increased audience numbers at the Culture House.
PASCO has had this impact due to several key factors:
* An economic commitment to the programme by the municipality;
* The willingness by key local organisations to support the programme e.g. schools, cultural organisations, municipality departments;
* A commitment by the Norway and UK partners to sustain the programme over a 3 year period and beyond;
* A flexibility in project delivery which is responsive to local need and requirements.
This and future posts describe how these outcomes were achieved and to assess what contribution the UK partner, the Aspire Trust, made to the project. It also aims to provide recommendations on how future urban regeneration programmes might be designed, the kind of partnership profile required of partners and the knowledges, skills and attitudes that practitioners require in order to effect the kind of changes that have been witnessed within PASCO.
The transformation witnessed in Obrenovac has not however been a one-way street; Aspire itself benefitted significantly from participating in the programme in the following ways:
* Increased work opportunities for young practitioners working in Aspire to apply their knowledge and skills within a European context;
* Increased mobility professional practitioners across Europe;
* Increased financial turnover of the company, helping to secure its long term future;
* Increased funding from UK based organisations to assist in the long term strategic development of the company across the wider region e.g. Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Bulgaria
* Increased applications to European funding sources e.g. European Collaboration Fund, Balkans Incentive Fund, Youth in Action.
* Increased activities which engage UK practitioners with other practitioners from Serbia, Norway and other European countries, helping to locate their practice within a wider European context;
* Increased cultural partnerships established with other cultural and educational organisations in South East Europe and the Balkans e.g. FYR Macedonia, Bulgaria and Croatia.
* Increased knowledge and understanding of the history and culture of Serbia and the region as a whole.
This and future posts are intended for the benefit of teachers, academics and professional arts workers who wish to learn from the PASCO experience and adapt it for their own purposes.
We hope too that it acts as an inspiration for future graduate students who wish to animate and activate their own communities through the application of the arts and creative industries.