Speaking of Empathy: a conversation about empathy and Community, Art & Science

Artist: Tim Prentki en Salvo Pitruzzella

 Speaking of Empathy: a conversation about empathy and Community, Art & Science  

The original festival theme of ICAF-8 had been ‘Vision’. With that in mind, Professor Tim Prentki (Winchester, UK) had proposed to explore the future of community art and what current developments in, for example, art therapy and neuroscience could contribute to strengthening its legitimacy. Tim is well known as an applied performance scholar and cofounder of the theatre and development programme at Winchester University, subjects about which he has published many books. He approaches applied art from multiple perspectives (politics, education) with a strong foundation in the humanities. He is well aware that over the past few decades social scientists have been trying to capture the value or social impact of community art with surveys and statistics. While some of this work has led to useful insights, Tim believes that recent research in neuroscience and neuropsychology may be more promising. It points to the importance of empathy for building kinder less divided societies and suggests that face-to-face participatory artistic processes can actually help to increase it.  


During two conversational sessions, Tim will explore the notion of empathy and its connection with art, education and healing fractured human relations together with Salvo Pitruzzella (Palermo, Italy). Salvo is Professor of Art Education at the Palermo Fine Arts Academy and a pioneer of dramatherapy in Italy with over twenty-five years of experience working in mental health, education, and social care. He is dramatherapy course leader at the Centro ArtiTerapie, Lecco. He has widely published on dramatherapy, educational theatre, and creativity theories. His latest book is Drama, Creativity and Intersubjectivity: Roots of Change in Dramatherapy (London: Routledge, 2016). He argues: “it is essential to consider the social dimension of therapy: the problems are not just on people’s psyche (or in their soul, or in their brain), but in the relationships they have with the world. And we, as therapists, are part of this world.” According to Pitruzzella, science points to compassion and creativity as two crucial factors that make us human. “Empathy is rooted in our mirror system,” he claims, “but it takes an imaginative effort to actually turn it into compassion”. 

Tim and Salvo will be joined via Zoom by a diverse group of guests from around the world. They will be invited to spontaneously interject feedback and stories of experiences with empathy from their own contexts, thus providing intercultural nuances to the conversation from different speaking positions. 


Date:                         26 February 2021, Friday

Time:                         10 AM (Rotterdam Time – CET) I 5 PM (Singapore Time – GMT + 8)

Host:                         ICAF Rotterdam HUB

Facilitator:                 Tim Prentki(UK), Salvo Pitruzzella(Italy)

Duration:                    1,5 hour

Language:                   English

Venue:                        Live stream via Vimeo

Friday 26 February 10.00
Saturday 27 February 10.00