XARKIS = from the ancient Greek word eks’ arhis, which means from the beginning.
Xarkis is a project which began during MA Communication Design at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London (2012-2014). The distinction project focused on the development of the Xarkis festival; an event designed in the midst of the economic crisis that aimed to build a communal identity, community cohesion, economic and cultural resilience through creative practice in a context of design-led social innovation.
In order to realize Xarkis Festival, a design activist role was initially adopted and a decision was made to create an assembly whereby communities were brought together in novel ways to offer up thoughts on self-sufficient and sustainable futures.
Six years later Xarkis Festival has become a nomadic, international arts Festival which travels annually in a rural region of Cyprus.
SOCIALLY RESPONSIVE | ARTS, DESIGN + CULTURE
We are a nomadic NGO based in Cyprus.
The idea for the creation of this Non-Profit Organization came from a need to realize cultural initiatives that embrace local culture and contribute towards community empowerment. Using the same principles as Xarkis Festival, Xarkis NGO was established in 2013 in order to offer a greater range of collaborative and community based projects.
As part of our duties, we offer design and co-design services, as well as curation, coordination and facilitation of cultural, participatory and socially responsive initiatives.
Driven by the values of collaborative and social design practice, we encourage the exchange of know-how and skill between creative practitioners, researchers, experts and non-experts, with inclusivity and public participation being at the heart of our actions.
Our initiatives promote a vast matchmaking mechanism whereby people from different disciplines, professional, educational and ethnic backgrounds work together to materialize new ideas, that can have a positive influence on local societies and long lasting impact.
Xarkis envisages a society that actively explores, celebrates, experiments with, and participates in actions that re-define aspects of culture. We want to work with, collaborate and facilitate any team or individual with the same urge for positive change.
We consider the following missions as important first steps:
1. Encouraging publics’ active engagement in experiential activities within the realm of culture.
2. Strengthening “community identity” wherein people can better understand, appreciate and interact with local culture, history and the environment.
3. Providing a dialogue between people of different backgrounds, for the purposes of preservation and revival of manifestations of cultural heritage. Within this, we aim to explore new avenues for expressing traditions, handicrafts, customs and arts, on a local and global level.
4. Cultivating a culture of participation, co-operation and contribution and widening the circle of interest for culture and heritage.
5. Creating a learning framework that encourages the study and experimentation in relation to the methodological axes and practical applications, as well as innovative ideas around socially responsive, participatory art and design practices.
In order to achieve its goals, Xarkis:
1. Undertakes initiatives and organizes residency-based international Festivals, with the participation of educators, performance artists, designers, makers, contemporary artists, and musicians.
2. Raises awareness about local culture, which it promotes to the communities of a region towards the Cypriot public and abroad, contributing to both the revitalization and the promotion of Cyprus.
3. Experiments and modernizes traditional techniques and customs, as well as other aspects of regional culture and everyday life, as it appeared in the past and as it manifests today.
4. Uses creative communication tools such as filming and photography, which through the internet, contribute to the development of a dialogue between individuals and communities.
5. Collects historical information from alternative sources such as oral stories, that are traditionally only preserved by viva voce and word-of-mouth communication within communities. To this end, Xarkis ensures appropriate training in educational workshops with volunteers participating in such programs.
6. It develops programs and co-operates in the creation of non-formal education projects.
7. Xarkis’s work is based on the voluntary participation of members and collaborators, and on buying services which are funded by grants, donations and contributions from both the public and semi-public sectors, and the private sector (e.g. businesses, banks, community authorities, individuals etc).