Kim (BA, Grad Dip. Movement and Dance, M. Ed. Arts) is just about to complete her PhD at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia where she investigated the role of participatory arts in social change in Timor-Leste. She works as the Research Program Manager for the Cultural Development Network, an independent organization that promotes the cultural vitality of communities throughout its home state of Victoria, Australia. She is also Director of Many Hands International, a non-government organisation that seeks to contribute to development in Timor-Leste, particularly through cultural initiatives.
This article describes the contribution of creativity to human development in the new nation of Timor-Leste, exemplified in a case study of community art centre Afalyca. By taking a creative approach to the challenges of life in his developing country, the young leader of this enterprise, Marqy da Costa, is realising his own potential more fully and offering enriching experiences to others. The impact of his centre on a range of stakeholders, including staff, participants and the wider community is discussed.
For participants, the outcomes of their involvement include enjoyable opportunities for creative expression; valued recognition from national and international audiences; the broadening of life experience to encompass new possibilities for self-actualisation; skill development and income from employment and sales.
The factors that have contributed to Afalcya's creative achievements are examined. These include inspiration and assistance received from organisations and individuals in and outside of Timor, family support, and the age and gender of leaders. Also significant are founder Marqy's personal characteristics of artistic talent, social and language skills, love of learning, persistence and conciliatory approach to conflict. Barriers to the realisation of Afalcya's potential include lack of systemic recognition of the value of creativity for sustainable development, unsupportive bureaucracy and gender related restrictions of participation for women. The potential for similar initiatives to contribute to a positive future for Timorese people is explored.
Timor-Leste, creativity, arts participation, human development.