Theater A tot Z leads European project to reach disadvantaged groups


The Antwerp-based theatre that targets hard-to-reach social groups in Belgium will lead the European project B.I.G. D.E.A.L.

Developing best practices

Flemish performance group Theater van A tot Z has been chosen to lead a new European project that brings together initiatives in six countries. The initiative brings together groups who specialise in reaching out to those who have little access to theatre.

The popular Theater van A tot Z offers productions in schools, libraries and cultural centres, targeting disadvantaged populations who do not normally take part in performances. It offers its productions to technical schools, for instance, or gets newcomers involved in theatre. It also writes plays and musicals designed for those who are learning Dutch.

Over the years, Theater van A tot Z has become a highly respected organisation, considered a leader in its field in Europe. The European Commission has appointed the group to co-ordinate B.I.G. D.E.A.L., short for Bridging Input Gaps for the Disadvantaged to Enhance the outcome of non-formal Adult Learning.

The other international organisations involved are two theatre groups in the Czech Republic, cultural centres in Croatia and Poland, a Spanish non-profit that works with refugees and a women’s help network in Macedonia. “This project has three objectives,” says Peter Schoenaerts of Theater van A tot Z: “To help each organisation to better communicate with both their target groups and with the outside world, to seek more and better ways to reach target groups and to allow our own staff and workshop leaders to learn from the other organisations.”

Study day this week

The first B.I.G. D.E.A.L. event takes place this week in Antwerp. The Theatre, Language and Education study day will include workshops on intercultural communication, robotics and dramatic expression. Representatives from the international organisations will be present.

“All the organisations have a great deal of experience with vulnerable groups,” says Schoenaerts. “That can mean refugees, but also the unemployed or people living in poverty. Through B.I.G. D.E.A.L., we can all talk to each other about how we handle different situations. In two years, we’ll be ready to provide best practices to others on how best to help social groups outside of a school context.”