Persianes amb ànima, an art project that empowers women and neighbourhoods
A community project of artistic creation that promotes social and laboral inclusion for women who are vulnerable or at risk of social exclusion. It is a transformative project, based on urban art as an engine of change and social awareness, which builds community and allows the discovery and modification of the environment.
Persianes amb ànima –in English, shutters with a soul– is based on a series of workshops on the restoration, design and painting of shutters taught by professional illustrators and muralists. The project covers the whole process: after an initial theoretical and practical part to introduce participants to the artistic discipline, they carry out a final practice on the shutters of shops in the neighbourhood. Apart from being a collective learning space, one of the objectives of the project is to create safe and comfortable spaces for the participants. In this way, Persianes amb ànims aims for art to be, apart from a distraction, a source of increased security and self-confidence.
During the implementation, an important part of the project is the participatory process that takes place between artists, students and the people in charge of the shops. It is in collaboration with the neighbourhood and the neighbourhood associations that the shutters to be rehabilitated are selected. Once they have been chosen, the task is to jointly decide on the messages that the shutters will communicate, understood and used as a loudspeaker to educate and raise awareness about equality, social inclusion, feminism and sustainability. Also during this process, the stories of the neighbourhood’s small businesses are discovered –which allows neighbourhood ties to be forged– and these stories are then captured in the drawings on the shutters. Thus, Persianes amb ànima highlights the potential of art as a tool for social inclusion and a space for female empowerment, capable of making visible what is not visible.
Neighbourhood of El Coll, Barcelona
Ajuntament de Barcelona, Barcelona Activa
The community project Persianes amb ànima was promoted in 2022 by Atra, a non-profit organisation that offers comprehensive care to people in vulnerable situations and at risk of social exclusion, with the collaboration of Barcelona Activa.
Level of implementation
During the first edition of the project, which ended in June 2022, nine shop shutters were refurbished in the Coll neighbourhood, thus contributing to the revitalisation of the Gràcia district. According to the organisers, the project has contributed to the attraction of sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism. But above all, what is remarkable is the participants’ assessment of the project. They agree that Persianes amb ànima has strengthened their self-esteem, self-confidence and self-acceptance, being a space of care, security and comfort. Furthermore, they also state that the project has motivated them and increased their sense of belonging to the site.
It is because of such positive feedback from students, shopkeepers and artists that, recently, in January 2023, the second edition of the project has started. It is hoped that the initiative will be continued. Beyond that, the possibility of creating a cooperative and a workshop school where the students could carry out the process of creating and rehabilitating more shutters is also on the table; in other words, making the labour inclusion of women in vulnerable situations a reality.