Around 20 children with and without disabilities from all over Montenegro were part of the 19th Children’s Theatre Festival in Kotor. Various art workshops were organized for interested children throughout the 10 days of the Festival. Children were able to learn more on painting, photography, circus skills and techniques, filming, etc. This was a great opportunity for children with and without disabilities to express their talents and discover new interests, but also to meet new friends and exchange experiences.
‘I have learned that filming is not just about pressing RECORD and taking the video. It is much more about having an idea, planning and thinking it through before filming. It takes patience. I enjoyed the workshop very much.’ said Bojana during the film workshop.
‘I thought I was going to be bored at the painting workshop, as I cannot paint. But the professor and his assistants gave me clay and taught me several techniques of clay sculpting. I had so much fun.’ said Nikola, a visually impaired boy, during the painting workshop.
For the first time in 19 years, Children’s Theatre Festival in Kotor had an inclusive theatre play as part of its official programme. Supported by UNICEF Montenegro, ‘’Per.Art’’ group from Serbia performed the play ‘AS IF LIFE HAS A BEGINNING AND AN END’.
The play is a unique example of inclusive practice in the field of culture and contemporary performance arts in the region. The script of the play, scenography and costumes were designed by persons with Down syndrome, who were also the main protagonists of the play.
‘Besides the high level of aesthetic and artistic standards that the play demonstrates, the main feeling that the observer has after the play ends is an immense feeling of tenderness.’ said Petar Pejakovic, the President of the Foundation ‘Kotor Festival of Children’s Theatre’ and theatre director. Next day, as a follow up to the inclusive play, round table named ‘Children and youth with disabilities and art’ was organized in the Kotor’s Old town, with participation of children, representatives of culture institutions and artists from Montenegro and the region.
Participants discussed the importance of inclusion and the role of culture institutions in that regard. The message was sent to all artists in Montenegro to start making projects where children and youth with disabilities will be involved.
Acting UNICEF Representative in Montenegro, Ana Zec said that participation in cultural activities is very important for children. These activities are excellent opportunities for a multitude of social interaction, meeting other children and develop friendships. In addition, the development of children is encouraged by their participation in various art projects. Numerous studies have shown that introducing children to acting and music can accelerate speech development, enhance the talent for math and science, improve coordination, improve memory skills and reading, especially for children with disabilities.
‘’In the future, we wish to regularly see children with disabilities together with their peers in the theatrical performances, in various concerts, exhibitions of paintings and similar occasions. In this way, the culture of Montenegro will become much richer, the perceptions of children with disabilities will change, and thus the behavior of people towards them,’’ Ana Zec pointed out.
Organizers of the Kotor festival said that they will do their utmost to continue with the promotion of inclusion of children with disabilities in cultural life of Montenegro. The Festival was a great opportunity to start thinking about future projects that could be realized in the following period.