Pt.1: Adreas Fasoulides - Art, Well-being and Social Entrepreneurship
Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Funded Programs Coordinator
As a new member of the team at Dekaplus, I am privileged to be in a business where I – almost daily - get the chance to meet and work with amazingly creative people who are involved in a plethora of initiatives and operate in many different markets. Once in a while though, I stand in awe as I watch peoples’ inspiring stories unfold and incredible ideas come to fruition. It would be a shame, then, to let the protagonists of these stories go without some recognition.
Not long ago, I had the opportunity to watch a 2018 recording of a TV show on Cyprus television, where our director Mr. Christos Nicolaides was invited to introduce and discuss the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program. Mr. Nicolaides was accompanied by Mr. Andreas Hadjisofocleous, a New Entrepreneur who had participated in the program and Mr. Andreas Fasoulides, a Host Entrepreneur. It was a very interesting discussion and had left me wanting to know more about the two entrepreneurs.
The story of Mr. Andreas Fasoulides, Host Entrepreneur
Mr. Fasoulides is a Cypriot pottery and ceramics artist, tutor and social entrepreneur. He began his practice in 1987 and since then has also been involved in numerous cultural projects and educational workshops. Some his most recent art projects are ‘Roads of Clay’ (ongoing since 2017) – a series of free pottery workshops – and ‘Ancient Cooks in Trozena (2019) – an experimental ancient pottery workshop. He has been a Host Entrepreneur for Erasmus Internships and Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs since 2015. In January 2018 he hosted Ms. Christina Munteanu, a Romanian jewelry handcrafts artist with hearing loss.
During the TV discussion, he described the numerous challenges he and Christina had to overcome during their collaboration while also briefly mentioning their current partnership. The biggest challenge was the formation of a professional relationship between two people who ‘spoke two different languages’ while their art practice involved different media.
We arranged a meeting with Mr. Andreas Fasoulides at Dekaplus HQ, on the 20th of September 2019, at 12:30 pm. Over a year after his appearance on the TV show, he was invited to talk about his experience as a Host Entrepreneur once more:
‘’When I first spoke to mr. Nicolaides over the phone and he informed me about Cristina and the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program, I immediately agreed to participate as a Host Entrepreneur without a second thought. From our first meeting, communicating with Christina was much easier than I anticipated. We managed just fine with no issues.’’
Another challenge was Christina’s accommodation – Cristina had arrived in Cyprus with her mother in winter and due to humidity issues the space they had rented was deemed inappropriate for stay. Mr. Fasoulides opened the doors of his own home and offered Cristina a place to stay for the whole duration of the exchange. Once all issues were ironed out, their entrepreneurial relationship began developing with strong momentum. Despite the challenges, Mr. Fasoulides was committed to a successful exchange as he saw great potential in his partnership with Christina. Her hearing loss was put on the side as they focused on their strengths as a team and built on those strengths.
''Both of us were highly motivated to make the most out of the opportunity to participate in the EYE programme. I decided to start the ‘Silent Artouch project’, a pottery program for people with hearing impairments. This project would offer Cristina the opportunity to become my partner and get involved in all aspects of starting up – management, structure and design. The project would also enable her to input her own culture and craftsmanship into the work.’’
‘Silent Artouch’ was placed at the core of the 5-month exchange. It encompassed workshops and exploration regarding the potential of professional activities and relationships between people with and without hearing impairments. Mr. Fasoulides also spoke about the difficulties he had experienced when he attempted to make meaningful contact with the deaf community in Cyprus:
‘’It was just as difficult for me to reach out and communicate with the deaf community as I imagine is for someone with hearing impairments to reach out and communicate with the rest of society. There appears to be a barrier between the two communities and together with Christina, we managed to breach it. Professional relationships between the two communities are truly possible.’’
Mr. Fasoulides and Cristina hosted numerous workshops with social inclusion and skills development as the main goal. During the workshops, participants had the opportunity to express themselves by learning pottery techniques and creating their own ceramic sculptures. The ‘Silent Artouch project’ ended with a final exhibition at the Cultural Centre of Germasogeia County, Limassol in April 2018.
‘’By the end of the project, Christina and I managed to put together our culture, individual practices and influences and created something wonderful.’’
Before concluding the exchange, the two entrepreneurs decided to continue their partnership by founding ‘Terra Arte’, an environmental, cultural and social initiative that is aimed toward the Vocational Education and Training (VET) for the vulnerable population in Cyprus. Terra Arte was created to support the minor population regardless of social status, ethnicity, religion and abilities. ‘Terra Arte’ will be registered as a social enterprise according to the forthcoming 2019 bill. The bill will safeguard social enterprises in Cyprus, an institution which has been established in the rest of Europe for many years.
In his quest to promote the institution of social enterprises, Mr. Fasoulides recently launched the programme ‘Vocational Education and Training for People with Disabilities’, which is aimed at offering vocational training to adults with disabilities who are interested in work within different sectors of the Cyprus economy.