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The GLAMers: youth engagement in Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums during the COVID-19 crisis

Digitally mediated youth engagement in Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) during the pandemic is the topic of this Erasmus+ KA2 project (2021-2023).

In the COVID-19 crisis it is obvious that the cultural and creative sector is one of those severely hit in Europe (cf. European Commission’s Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, October 8, 2020). What the current crisis brought sharply to the forefront is the very limited resilience of the cultural and creative sector to the unprecedented change in human and cultural habits that are mostly connected to face-to-face encounters, visits and performances. The European Union has set a roadmap for action on the pan-European level but there is still lots to be done on the local, national and cross-national levels to support the rebirth of the sector.
Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAMs) were for the majority unprepared regarding the effects of the pandemic, including a sudden loss of income (which definitely
impacted the employment rates in the cultural and creative sectors), as well as a severe disruption of their relationship with their audiences. Since the beginning of the pandemic, these effects have managed to further damage this sector which was already struggling with poor community outreach over the past decade.
Yet, civic participation against COVID-19 flourished in the form of bottom-up, community-driven initiatives for a social purpose in Europe, such as hackathons, youth activism for disadvantaged populations, 3D artifacts for citizens in need and crowdfunding initiatives. Many young people followed remotely digital activities organised by GLAMs in an attempt to support them and demonstrate solidarity with the cultural and creative sectors. These practices illustrate the fact that citizens, and more specifically youth communities, are prepared to take a more active role in the support of the cultural/creative sector, should this sector offer more activities that engage the public in creative, enticing initiatives that contribute to better societies through civic empowerment.

The GLAMers project has 4 objectives, each one addressed by an Output (O).

  1. Τhe first objective is to provide a collection of use cases emphasizing youth engagement as a means of GLAM recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic. This collection will be
    enriched with an analysis of challenges, opportunities and hidden potential of youth engagement in GLAM rebirth (IO1).
  2. The second objective is to build on O1 results and create an open access digital collection of at least 30 digital resources, plus a 5-module online training suite and 8 webinars for GLAMs and youth organisations. These training sessions will be of national and pan-European reach as they will be carried out in English and in partner languages (IO2).
  3. The third objective is to allow GLAMs put in practice knowledge acquired in O2 by organizing real events at their premises where youth (young individuals and youth communities) will have a vital role. At least 5 events will take place across Europe. They all be held according to the local public health regulations for COVID-19 at that given moment. Thus, GLAMs will benefit from counselling by project partners to first carry out and then assess the digitally enhanced activities involving youth at their premises. Implementation and assessment tools will be part of the methodology that will be developed to support GLAMs during these stages (IO3).
  4. The fourth objective is to map social change. The GLAMers will demonstrate how youth communities can be part of the solution to the current COVID-19 crisis through their active participation in cultural events that both help GLAMs recover and also contribute to community efforts to face the current pandemic. This will be showcased through live-streaming events at the premises of GLAMs, a series of Do’s and Don’ts video-interviews and at least 20 attractive infographics (IO4).

Target groups
The GLAMers embrace a wide spectrum of stakeholders. The target groups are, first, Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAMs), and the cultural and creative sector in general; and second, youth organisations and young persons. The project will embrace all forms of youth participation to allow a multifaceted set of solutions to emerge in the current
crisis, namely:
1. cultural youth associations;
2. young artists;
3. young activist groups for social change;
4. young individuals, not belonging to a group or a community, wishing to be part of coordinated action towards a reinforced European identity.

1. Cyprus University of Technology

2. Citizens in Power, Cyprus

3. Web2Learn

4. Museum of Arts and Crafts, Croatia

5. Michael Culture Association.