PAN Intercultural Arts

Founded 30 years ago, PAN is a small and effective charity (registered number 295324) based in London with a worldwide reach who champion intercultural performance to facilitate self expression and promote deeper understanding of changing cultural identities. They help their participants to find a voice through drama, dance, music, writing and film. PAN has an annual budget of around £200,000.
 
On this slender amount they work with vulnerable members of society, including trafficked women, asylum seekers, young refugees and at-risk youth.
 
They currently deliver four main strands of work:
 
A Refugee Arts Programme. This plays a crucial role in the lives of trafficked women as well as young refugees and asylum-seekers, many of whom are based Croydon and have come from the Calais ‘Jungle.’
 
An Arts Against Violence Programme which focuses on issues of gang-violence through PAN’s flagship programme Weapon of Choice (WOC). (WOC) workshops are active in schools and pupil referral units (the equivalent of prison schools for teenagers with behavioural issues). The programme highlights the dangers of gang-membership, knife crime and drug-dealing, and presents ways to circumvent these issues. WOC have also made a film explaining and dramatising Join Enterprise Law. In this film, a young man is sentenced to 16 years in prison for a murder he did not commit: he was sitting in the back seat of the car of someone who did.  The film has been showed to 2000 young people in the last last year.
 
An Integrated Arts Programme. PAN has begun to expand their UK work from London to Oxford (the Pegasus Theatre) Birmingham and Kent. They have also been asked by the Home Office to advise on the use of the arts in anti-gang strategies.
 
An International Theatre for Development Programme which has taken them across the globe from Sri-Lanka to Pakistan, to Burma, Sierra Leone and most recently, Berlin.
 
The aim of each of these programmes, is to change the way participants engage with society and to enable them to move towards a productive life.
 
To find out more about PAN – speak to us or have a look at their website. We have included PAN in our short film about London arts-based charities which you can view here. 

Interview with PAN's Artistic Director and Founder, John Martin

PW: John, how did you get involved with Pan Intercultural Arts?
 
The short answer is that it was my idea!  But that doesn’t tell the true story, which is that many artists working together, wanted to find ways that theatre could be more inclusive. This inclusivity was originally to find theatre forms which would resonate with multiple audiences within our multi-ethnic society and we worked with experts from around the world and a multi-racial group of London performers.

As we grew we saw that our inter-cultural inclusivity should also reach out to the many communities in London who had little access to artistic activity. Working between disadvantaged cultural groups who fought on the streets was our first challenge and this was followed by invitations to work with groups of refugee torture victims from many countries. These projects, and more, took us away from the purely artistic research and gave a new meaning to our “intercultural” work, finding commonalities, respect and communication between cultures, faiths and social backgrounds. This work is immensely challenging but it is proof that the arts have a vital role in helping the very basic relationships within society.  It goes on.


What would your organisation do tomorrow with an unrestricted donation of £10,000?

£10,000 would allow us to implement a much needed pilot project providing young people close to crime with a way of exploring alternatives to joining gangs, dealing drugs, picking up weapons. Participants in our 10-week residencies in Pupil Referral Units, Youth Offending Services and special streams in secondary schools, would be able to continue their exploration of behavioural change on a weekly basis for a year. The drama games, re-enactments of crucial moments in their lives, rehearsals to try-out taking other decisions and discussions around the pressures on their lives, would give them a chance, with their peers, to re-imagine, re-shape and re-launch their lives in a positive, constructive direction.

What is the biggest challenge to Pan in 2017?
 
2017 puts us firmly in a new social situation where two huge challenges meet us. The first is that the populist surge of 2016, typified by the Brexit vote and the Trump election, seems to have been interpreted as permission for hate speech, hate crimes and a growth in prejudice. Much of this is directed at exactly the groups with which we work and we are very aware of the effect it might have on them, mentally and even physically. The challenge is that the divide which has appeared in society leaves us with two, or more, opposing groups who do not understand each other and who do not talk to each other. Pan is actively looking for ways to start dialogue so that fears about refugees, asylum seekers, ethnic minorities can be addressed, knowledge and experience exchanged and a new path to understanding begun.
 
At the same time we are challenged by continuing shrinkage of public funding for both the arts and the social sectors, more competition for money from the major trusts and foundations and a need for Pan to create relationships with donors, philanthropists, corporate bodies and other sources which are new for us. There is work to do!

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
 
Knowing that there are thousands of people, especially young people, who are ignored or sidelined by our society, our government, and whose potential is not being realized. Knowing that these people live in fear or insecurity, in absence of methods which help them reflect on their lives to find constructive alternatives. Knowing that we can help them with our work and that we must find a way to do so. 

And my children jumping on the bed at 7am!

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© Prospero World 2018

With thanks to Victor Ehikhamenor for allowing us to use images of his art work.