The fourth study visit of our PerFare project in Cluj-Napoca, Romania was a truly transformative experience. This journey provided our partnership with invaluable insights and unforgettable memories, contributing significantly to our understanding of the pivotal role that Performing Arts can play in promoting social welfare access throughout Europe.
After a day-long train journey from Budapest to Cluj, we arrived at our destination and took the opportunity to rest, preparing ourselves for the next two days ahead. Drawing from our previous study visits in Portugal, Sweden, and Italy, we were eager to delve into new perspectives and glean insights from Romania’s best practices.
Our initial meeting unfolded at the Tranzit Youth Center, where we began by sharing updates on the progress of our artist selection process. Each participant presented their pre-selected proposals for local artistic interventions, igniting discussions aimed at offering fresh perspectives, experiences, and opinions. The diverse array of artistic methods discussed—ranging from dance and music to creative workshops—were all geared towards enriching the social and personal welfare of individuals in need.
After engaging in fruitful discussions, we were introduced to innovative tools for creative model innovation, evaluation guidelines, and tools for pilot action implementation. To enrich our study visit even further, István from AltArt Foundation led us to the outskirts of Cluj-Napoca, where we explored an area known as Pata Rat. While not unique to Cluj-Napoca, this region serves as a significant marker of the living conditions experienced by marginalized groups.
During our visit, we explored the mobile container, which serves as a smaller community space primarily for the children of Pata-Rat. We witnessed the commendable efforts of the Social Fiber Association, which conducts creative workshops for the children and regularly visits the area. Later in the day, we had the privilege of meeting the founders and directors of the FRCCF association, who shared their best practices in helping children catch up in school, providing food, organizing creative workshops, and, when necessary, offering further assistance with mental health.
Returning to Tranzit Youth Center, we concluded the day with a Networking Café event. This provided an opportunity to deepen our understanding of different approaches and success stories from our partners, and exchanged insights into the challenges faced by organizations in different countries. The event also showcased impactful initiatives within the Pata Rat community, fostering connections and instilling hope.
The second day began with a visit to the ADI-ZMC organization, where we gained insights into their efforts to reintegrate the Pata Rat community into society. This involved managing funds for relocation and providing social housing. Although these efforts require time and substantial funding, they have a profound impact on uplifting people and aiding them in escaping poverty.
At our next station, DASM, we explored another aspect of social work that supports marginalized communities, such as accessing healthcare. Finally, we concluded the study visit by visiting two local theater companies, Reactor and ZAZ. Here, we learned how these companies have created a space for performing arts in Cluj-Napoca, connecting with various groups in the local community and fulfilling the need for arts, expression, and representation.
In summary, our time in Cluj-Napoca was truly remarkable, and we extend our gratitude to the AltArt Foundation for hosting us and showcasing the variety of social organizations in the city. As we return home, we bring with us not only memories and new perspectives but also a deeper appreciation for the genuine value embedded in the PerFare project. While it is bittersweet that we are nearing our final study visit, we eagerly anticipate hosting our partners for the fifth meeting in Budapest.