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Founded in 2013, Xarkis was first implemented as a social experiment during MA Communication Design at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts in London (2012-2014). Originally organized in the village of Arsos (2013), it was tested as a means of building community identities, cohesion and resilience through creative practices. It was essentially a creative reaction against the former socio-economic crisis which took its tool in different parts of the world, climaxing in Cyprus in 2013. Taking the form of a Festival, we used DIY practices in a big self-organized celebration.

Xarkis NGO today seeks to actively promote socio-ecological civic engagement, through artistic expression and practises of knowledge sharing and co-creation.

Xarkis Festival roams rural communities of Cyprus, and typically takes place in areas that are remote and not particularly touristic, with little access to contemporary art opportunities. Like many other ‘peripheral’ regions across Europe and the globe, these regions often suffer from various problems such as a lack of opportunities, faltering demography and a widespread sense of ennui.

By intentionally focusing on ‘peripheral’ regions, we reverse artistic trends that mainly focus on urban and metropolitan regions, whilst denouncing the idea that art is only for the elite.

We embody the “Leave no one behind” of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals and co-create art with local communities, co-produce knowledge, and ultimately try to create a newfound sense of purpose, excitement and community. By inviting Cypriots and people from across the globe to collaboratively engage in these processes we also promote the European value of multiculturalism, diversity and plurality. Finally, we’re designing the festival in a way that is more accessible to individuals of all abilities, genders and sexualities, ethnicities and geographic backgrounds and education, thus embodying the value of inclusivity.

The Festival assumes its shape through the ‘Xarkis Multi-Residency’ program (est. 2016) that precedes it. Here, artists in residence come together in a communal environment and are connected with local and former residents of a selected area to collaborate on their practice-based enquiries and generate site-specific projects in ways that make use of skills, desires and resources of the persons involved and locations in each region.