International Community Arts Festival, Rotterdam: Less than two weeks to go now!

Less than two weeks to go now. Our first artists are already in the country and others are arriving this weekend. If you haven’t registered yet, do so now or risk not getting into a workshop of your choice. With the help of some of our sponsors and a few generous individuals we have also managed to expand our solidarity fund, so if you really want to come and our fees are an obstacle for you, please do not hesitate to send us an email at and we’ll work something out.

Highlight 1: Big hART and Blue Angel (Australia and the world)

Big hART have invited respected community arts organisation PETA (Philippines) to meet them in Rotterdam for a creative development of their new project Blue Angel. In the week prior to the festival, they will explore Rotterdam together. This is an archaeological dig or rather a dive into the treasure trove of sea stories that is Rotterdam. An exploration of the past and present, the materials will be gathered to feed into the creation of the Blue Angel theatre show. With the tag line 'Stories of the Sea and Our Slaves of Convenience', this is a multi-layered project in development, woven from actual stories from the ships and the shore. These rich tales of adventure, solidarity, struggle, loneliness, love, sex, and laughter, act as a prism to expose the dire situation today for over 700,000 seafarers internationally; some of the most exploited workers on the planet. Every night, there is a city of workers afloat on our oceans, delivering our consumer goods along a liquid highway to our doors. Yet they are mostly invisible to us, their dramatic stories almost unknown. Blue Angel wants to tell these stories. Truly international in spirit, it will create this project through partnership with three port cities around the globe, in multiple languages, and with material created in each location. 

On Saturday 29 March between 1.30 and 5 PM festival visitors are welcome to a special open session of this Blue Angel research process. This extended workshop,with special guests, is a sharing of the treasures that have been gathered over the past days from our time with working seafarers, old sailors, their families, the unions, and at the port. This creative development in Rotterdam signals the start of the international vision for this project, following on from intensive community engagement processes, research & development in Australia.

Highlight 2: BasketBeat (Barcelona)

BasketBeat is a social arts methodology designed by Josep Maria Aragay. It uses sport as an access to the arts experience. For many youngsters in Barcelona’s popular neighbourhoods it has already opened the door to active music making and dance. After three years, Josep has recently also introduced the approach in South Africa, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, and Canada. Basketbeat is now an official subject taught at the University of Barcelona and at the University of Paris Est. At ICAF Josep will demonstrate his methodology on Saturday afternoon. It will be a premiere for Holland

Highlight 3: The Barrio Comparsa Parade

If you happen to already be in Rotterdam on Wednesday 26 March, be sure to come have a look at, or join in with, our street parade. Catalina García from Barrio Comparsa in Medellín, Colombia will start working with all kinds of groups in Rotterdam, beginning on Sunday March 23. She will be collaborating with teenagers from highschool De Palmentuin and a local youth circus school as well as with students from Dance Academy Codarts. If you are interested, visit our website at for a map of the exact route of the parade. We start at 1.30 PM in Islemunda, from there the parade travels by tram to the World Trade Center building at Beursplein (Metro: Beurs). The group will arrive there at around 2.45 PM. At about 4 PM the parade will arrive by metro at the Zuidplein shopping mall. Between 4.30 and 5 PM the group will descend from the mall to the square in front of Zuidplein theatre.

Highlight 4: The Captain’s Tables

At previous ICAF’s we have always tried to create space for reflection on the wide variety of community arts practices that exist worldwide. We have experimented with talk shows, debates and at our last event we introduced a seminar. While these formats were welcomed by some, we also felt it left other less-academically inclined or less fluent speakers of English out of the conversation. For that reason at this year’s ICAF we are introducing different discursive formats such as the ICAF Playground and the Round Table of the PeerGrouP. During our evening meals we have general seating in the upstairs foyer, but on Thursday and Friday two talented Icelandic artists, Arnar Fells and Isabella Lövenholdt are also designing and hosting two small parallel dining rooms in the upstairs of Zuidplein Theatre for an intimate (and very informal) dinner with one of our ICAF artists. Hector Aristizabal, a well-known Theatre of the Oppressed practitioner from Colombia who has just returned from an intense experience jokering in Ukraine, has already agreed to be guest of honour on one of these occasions. Also Jeannette Corbiere Laval, a fiesty and highly respected elder and women's activist associated with Debajehmujig First Nations Storytellers from Manitoulin Island, Canada, has just confirmed she would also love to be one of our 'captains'. Our third captains come from Israel: Ut and Anat Shamai, dialogical visual artists and the record holders of the world’s largest sock mosaic.

We call these special dinners “captain’s tables” and you can be part of this exclusive experience by trying to convince Arnar, Isabella and Eugene in writing why you should be invited to the table. Please send your compelling, creative, poetic, original messages to: before 25 March. If you have been selected, you will receive special instructions on the day of your ‘dinner date’ which you should pick up no later than 1 PM on ‘the’ day from the ICAF registration desk at Zuidplein Theatre.

Highlight 5: Introducing our Documentary Film Crew 

Led by Angie, a group of wonderful film makers from Spain (and a Dutch friend) will be documenting our festival. They have asked us to introduce them to you so you can recognize their faces and you won’t be too surprised when they show up at one of the ICAF activities. If you don’t want to be filmed, just kindly let them know and they will respect your wishes. Here they are: Caterina, Bram, Héctor, Mercedes and Angie. They very much look forward to meeting you.