ArtsAction Group is excited to return to ARTifariti this year. Teaming up with the Shared Roots Project, a creation of Terrence Ross at Adelphi University, we will work with interested families to create profiles of an ancestor - using words, videos, or any other art form. Our team will help families organize their memories, photos, objects and more into a celebration of their ancestor.
These stories and images will be uploaded to SharedRoots.net, to be seen by people around the world. As Enas Elmohand, a member of ArtsAction Group puts it, "history runs like a brook through the rich forest of time, negligent of the songs of individual birds." ArtsAction Group and the Shared Roots project will work with the Sahrawi community to add the songs of their ancestors to the recorded symphony of our collective history.
Interested people and families should contact organizers for the ARTifariti festival and/or come to the festival to share your stories. For those of you not attending the festival, Shared Roots is open to all for posting stories of our ancestors. Check it out and add your story!
Just back from presenting our Kosovo work at the Art, Peace and Conflict Conference at the Desmond Tutu Centre at Hope University in Liverpool, UK. People from around the world presented their work linked to arts, peace and conflict.
Our presentation, currently a working paper, covers our work in Kosovo spanning 1997 through the present. The work encompasses both community and grassroots-based fieldwork, as well as theoretical framing to illustrate how youth in specific communities, both rural and urban, processed their experiences during and after the protracted conflict and war whilst participating in arts programmes. The visual and performing arts projects were/are enacted across formal and non-formal venues such as refugee camps, community centres, museums, public schools, and cultural centres.
The paper discusses how the arts are utilised within four specific identity-based phases:
1. Existential-Conflict in medias res (≥ 1990s) - survival, basic psychosocial responses;
2. Processing and Healing (post-war July 1999) – transitions between trauma, uncertainty, nostalgia;
3. Freedom (immediate post-declaration of independence in February 2008) – dynamics in collective validation and esteem;
4. State building and community building (2008 and beyond) – transitions from euphoria to ambiguity and fear.
The entire event was uplifting, inspiring and a testimony to the power of the arts as a tool for healing and transformation. Stay tuned for more information and links to the individuals and organizations that presented over the 3-day event as well as to our final paper.
We are directing people's attention to an article by Samia Errazzouki, a Moroccan-American writer and researcher. She recounts her experiences going to what the Western Sahrawis refer to as the Wall of Shame - a militarized sand berm built and guarded by the Moroccan military - during her visit to the Sahrawi refugee camps to attend the FiSahara, an international film festival. The sand wall is approximately 2,700 km long and is heavily mined. Thanks to Sandblast for sharing Part 1 of Errazzouki's story which can be found at Jadaliyya, an independent ezine produced by ASI (Arab Studies Institute), the umbrella organization that produces Arab Studies Journal, Tadween Publishing, FAMA, and Quilting Point..
ArtsAction Group joins global campaign calling for culture to be included in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
"We believe that culture is both a driver and enabler of sustainable development and that the explicit inclusion of targets and indicators for culture in the Sustainable Development Goals will enable transformative change."
A member of ArtsAction Group attended the Aspen Institute's "Policies for the Growing Refugee Crisis in the Levant" in Washington DC this week. According to UNHCR, the number of Syrian refugees has surpassed 2 million, with Lebanon receiving the lion’s share, followed by Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. Government and UN officials and experts on forced migration and humanitarian relief discussed the context and implications of the growing Syrian refugee crisis. Speakers included:
ArtsAction Group is a signatory to statement of support for education in emergencies for Syrian refugees
Part of the Education Cannot Wait Campaign
Statement of support for education in emergencies for Syrian refugees:
Education Cannot Wait
We call on the international community to support education for all Syrian children who are displaced or refugees due to the crisis.
As part of a full-scale regional education response, we specifically call for the full financing of education for the largest population of Syrian refugees in Lebanon through a UN plan endorsed by the Government of Lebanon and the Secretary-General of the United Nations by funding the global humanitarian appeal RRP 6.
By funding this plan, we will show it is possible to get children into school during an emergency and continue with the full-scale regional and global responses for education in emergencies because Education Cannot Wait.
Artist Federico Guzmán' Participates in the The International Biennial of Contemporary Art Foundation of Cartagena de Indias: #1 Cartagena
By Cindy Maguire
Federico is one of our partners in art and social justice work! We met Fico through his collaborative work with the Western Sahrawi refugee camp communities in SW Algeria. We also team up with him through our arts and human rights courses at Adelphi University. His work in #1 Cartagena is a beautiful reflection of his artistic talent and commitment to justice.
#1: Cartagena is an issue-oriented project with works spread throughout the historic district. #1: Cartagena reflects on the cultural traditions of the people, the history and the deep connections to the colonial past, as well as encompassing literature, cinema, music, dance and crafts. The Biennial focuses on the idea of presence in its multitude of meanings, conveying how the past continues with us in the present.
Enas Elmohands, member of Arts Action Group, teaches students at Calhoun High School on Long Island, NY about the Moroccan government's occupation of the Western Sahara and the consequential refugee situation in Algeria. Calhoun High School has dedicated programming addressing human rights issues. Enas worked with Adelphi faculty member Diana Feige on this project.
Enas and another Adelphi student, Tyra Busigo presented to small groups of students on different pressing human rights abuses, including human trafficking and what's going on in the Western Sahara. In Enas's group a range of issues were covered including the history, geography, human rights violations, as well as the role of women in the camps. It's news to most people that women and men have equal rights and women take on leadership roles across the camps and in the diaspora. The role of arts and culture to push back against the human rights abuses was illustrated through the work of the ARTifariti festival. Early in the conflict between the Moroccan government and Western Sahrawi community, violent protests were the norm. Over time, the community has moved away from violent protests to working with arts and culture as a 'weapon' to fight the oppression as well as to raise global consciousness regarding this situation. The culminating activity was for each student group to share their human rights issue with their peers as well as to find some way of taking action in support of human rights for Western Sahara.
Finding ways of fostering human rights for all is a multifaceted endeavor, both large and small. Engaging youth in these issues is critical to imagining future worlds with less discrimination and more opportunities.
We will be using this space to comment and post projects, activities and conversations about our work.