Clearing House: How to Implement Your Project or Initiative in Belarus?

For the 5th year running, ODB Brussels within the framework of the Clearing House programme has provided consulting services to Belarusian organizations and initiatives, helping them take part in international programmes, country calls for proposals, obtain financing and other resources to implement new projects and ideas. Young artists Yekaterina Baranovskaya and Ilya Krasnoslobodtsau took advantage of the Clearing House free consults and have already organized their personal exhibition in Minsk within the framework of the Voice of Culture EU project after they were declared winners of the contest of cultural charity mini-projects and initiatives in Belarus.

The young people received a mini grant of 14 million Belarusian rubles (approximately 580 euro). With this money they bought paint and canvases, and went on to organize a free charity exhibition in Minsk. Exhibition space was provided to them free of charge by the organizers of the Who Is John Galt? anti-café and co-working space. On their way to victory in the contest, the young artists took part in trainings organized by the Clearing House consultants in the Center of Contemporary Arts (Minsk) and took advantage of the free consults, spending about two months to prepare their proposal.

Ilya Krasnoslobodtsau (on the left) and Yekaterina Baranovskaya (on the right)

According to Ilya Krasnoslobodtsev, the artists went over about a hundred different options while trying to hone the proposal to perfection. As a result of their painstaking efforts, their debut exhibition proposal was selected, along with proposals by the Belarusian Union of Designers and the Belarusian Union of Artists.

Ilya, young artist

"It helped us a lot: when you are dealing with something new that is out a bit of your area of competence, you need a lot of patience to bring it to the end. Other people took part in the contest as well: all in al


l, about 25 applications were filed but only 6 were selected. In order to win, you need to be well prepared and you need someone to guide you and tell you what to do. This helped us structure our artistic perceptions. Even though we had a good idea, we also had to present it well. First, we needed to do this on paper", - tells Ilya Krasnoslobodtsau.

Yekaterina, young artist

"We instantly signed up for the training in the Center of Contemporary Arts. There were two Clearing House consultants. They explained to us how to draw up a proposal and what we had to do. Only 6 projects were selected in the contest, including ours. Other winning projects included "Likhtart" and "The Time of Magnates" - notes Yekaterina Baranovskaya from the cultural initiative "Belarus in Retrospect: Young Artists' Perspective".

In 2015 alone, about two hundred Belarusian organizations, representing both governmental and civil society sectors, used consultation services of the Clearing House programme. In just one year, the number of regional organizations that requested consults from programme specialists increased by more than 20%. In most cases, they needed consultations on how to choose a call for proposals, how to prepare a proposal, etc.

Christian Association of Adults and Youth (YMCA Belarus), the winner of the 1st contest of local initiatives (UNDP Contest "Support to Local Development in the Republic of Belarus"), also used support of Clearing House experts to set up their non-formal education center for young people of the Lida district (Hrodna region, Belarus).

Razam ("Together") Festival (Lisa district, Hrodna region), 2015, YMCA Belarus


Several years ago, the village council at Peskautsy, Lida district, decided to hand over their old village school building to YMCA Belarus. This was when the CSO had the idea to create a non-formal education center for local youth: a pilot educational and cultural camp will be organized in June 2016. The youth organization and local authorities are willing to join efforts in implementing the idea.

Without support from Clearing House consultants, says Olga Lukina, YMCA Belarus Chair, it would have been almost impossible to win the UNDP contest:

Olga Lukina

"It was hard: it took us a very long time to prepare because the proposal was very long. We did it step by step: we went to the meetings, collected information, secured letters of support; we tried to find out how many people lived where, how many pupils were in the schools nearby - a lot of work had to be done as we understood that it was a very serious contest. At the UNDP meeting which gathered winners from the Hrodna region, we were told that there were about 720 applications, which is about 8-9 applications per vacancy. Clearing House experts are the only one in Belarus who provide consultation services free of charge. I think that this has an immense value for our community!" - says project manager at YMCA Belarus.

Within the framework of the Clearing House programme, participants of the 1st UNDP local initiatives contest received support all throughout Belarus. Programme experts organized meetings in Hrodna, Smalyavichy, Verkhnyadzvinsk, Liozna, Talachyn, Lyuban, Brahin, Klichau, Homel, Babruisk, Kalinkavichy and Orsha helping 232 representatives of 152 organizations and institutions prepare for the contest, with 16 of them becoming winners. Funding was provided for projects in non-formal education, as well as social entrepreneurship, resource conserving technologies, social inclusion of disabled people, entrepreneurship development and employment.