Youth Arts Program

Since 2015, Many Hands has offered a creative arts program to young people in the Lautem district. Creative classes are lead by established local visual artist and MHI staff member Cesario Lourdes. Public art classes are offered every weekday at the Lautem Cultural Centre over 40 weeks of the year and have featured learning of new artistic techniques including portrait painting, landscape painting, community murals, lino-printmaking, watercolour, sand painting, painting onto traditional ceramic pots, mural painting and sculpture (paper-mache, mangrove and wood). 

With increasing demand, the program in 2018 expanded to include an range of new classes. Daily public classes available at the Centre increased from five to ten scheduled classes a week. Twice weekly workshops commenced in the Bauro, initiated by the young people of Bauro community and a number of requests to deliver workshops in the outlying villages were received, leading to offering classes in a small kindergarten in Cacavei. A weekly class delivered at the Centre for local primary school students was also established in 2018, to encourage the inclusion of a creative curriculum in local school. 

Students have also had opportunities to exhibit their work internationally. In March 2017, Cesario's students had their first international exhibition at Gallery 54 in Penola, South Australia where 60 of their linocut artworks are on display. Later that same year, the works were also exhibited at the Warburton Waterwheel in Victoria.

A priority for MHI  has been to increase female participation across all of our programs. The MHI team has applied much effort and made commendable progress in achieving this. In 12 months, female participation rates in our daily public classes increased from 4% to 28% and we continue to work hard to see this number grow. 

MHI also delivers a creative school holiday program at the Lautem Cultural Centre. Visiting artist programs have included:

Simao Pereira, from Arte Morris who faciliated a 5-day creative workshop series teaching students about digital imagery and painting on glass. 25 young boys and girls participated in the program which concluded with a community exhibition to celebrate their creative achievements with their families. More information

Lena Caminha from Teatro Timor, who delivered workshop with young local students from the MHI Youth Arts Program. Together they created a theatre performance to showcase at a special community event. Four short performance pieces were created including a story about kids spending all their time on Facebook and missing out on fun opportunities in the community; a story about early teen pregnancy and the importance of education for girls; a story about Barlake; and a comedy stint. These themes were brainstormed by the students and Lena worked from their stories to create the performances. Students engaged in the visual arts program created a stunning backdrop for the final show that drew a large crowd of parents, family members and the broader community. More information

Planned school holiday programs in 2020 include painting on tais workshop, a music making workshop and a mural workshop, all with Dili based artists.

In 2018, an evaluation feedback survey was carried out with students to understand their experience of the program and to learn what other creative activities they might like to see offered in their community. Students reported that engaging in daily creative activities made them feel ‘happy’, ‘relaxed’ and ‘more confident to creatively express themselves in front of their community. They reported having learnt new skills such as how to ‘paint portraits’, ‘how to draw’, ‘how to create lino prints’ and how to do ‘wood carving and paper-mache sculpture’. Future creative activities they would like to see offered in their community include ‘oil painting classes’, ‘music lesson for guitar and djembe’, ‘dance events’ and ‘music concerts’. 

At a recent community exhibition, parents and community members were invited to provide feedback on their experience: 95% of attendees reported it was the first time they had been to an art exhibition,100% said they felt more connected to the young people in their community while at the event, and 100% reported they felt they were experiencing something special and felt excited and inspired during the event.  

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