Echo Eternal is a commemorative arts, media and civic engagement project delivered in schools for children of all ages, inspired by the testimony of British survivors of the Holocaust. The testimony was captured by the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation - UKHMF. The project is underpinned by CORE Education Trust's track record in bringing together diverse communities in a collaborative context, in this case with a common focus of Holocaust memorial and genocide awareness. This focus is supported by the creation of collaborative civic alliances between schools with different social and cultural characteristics.
The Echo Eternal pilot commenced in Birmingham on Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 and is currently a live project in 12 schools- 6 CORE Education Schools and 6 Partner Schools. The project will run for a further 2 calendar years across the West Midlands- 2019 and 2020 - continuing in the 6 CORE Schools and introducing another 12 new schools (6 each year) before being launched in 6 London Schools in 2021 ahead of the new national memorial being built in the gardens of parliament in 2022.
The project is delivered through 4 strands: Artistic; Education; Media; Civic Engagement.
Each month, 1 of the participating schools works with an artist in residence for a period of approx. 10 days. Each school is gifted testimony from one of the 112 survivor interviews captured by Natasha Kaplinsky for UKHMF in 2015. This testimony becomes the inspiration for the school’s response through an artistic expression, which is conceived and delivered by the pupils, forming one of a series of survivor "echoes".
The culmination of the project in year 1 will be a celebratory Echo Eternal Festival with artistic contributions from all 12 schools on Holocaust Memorial Day 2019, shared with their families and communities.
Each of the Echo Eternal participating schools benefits from a series of training events led by the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education. Each school is further supported by CORE Education Trust to develop counter prejudice narratives in response to survivor testimony and to develop pupils' critical thinking. The project's educational focus complements the learning objectives of UKHMF:
Each school is encouraged to consider applying to become a UCL Beacon School and to secure accreditation as a Refugee Welcome School from the NASUWT. To further raise the profile of Holocaust education for students, each school will also be connected with existing established Holocaust education providers.
Each participating school works with a film maker to produce a permanent record of their artistic responses and to capture their civic pledges (see below). This involves making a 3 minute film beginning and ending with the words of the survivor. The schools use social media and technology to share their project experiences with other participating schools and stakeholders.
During their artistic residency, each school contemplates a range of civic pledges, with the goal of impacting positive societal change. These pledges are inspired by the testimony from the survivors. Each school forms a civic alliance with one of the other Echo Eternal schools, inspired by the Great Get Together event in memory of Jo Cox. This element of the project focuses more on countering prejudice and hate crime. The civic alliances will continue to develop into the future as part of the project's legacy.
The UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation (UKHMF) was set up in 2015 to implement the recommendations of the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, ensuring that the memory of the Holocaust and its lessons are preserved and remain current for future generations. Alongside its programme to record and preserve the testimony of Holocaust survivors, UKHMF is leading the creation of a new national Holocaust Memorial and accompanying education centre – next to the Palace of Westminster. The Centre will contextualise the Memorial above and use the stories and facts of the Holocaust to explore antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia and other forms of hatred and prejudice in society today.