Merry Christmas from GemArts

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The end of the year is always a time for reflection, and across GemArts performance and participation programme, we are reminded of all of the wonderful artists, communities, audiences, volunteers, partners and funders we have worked with in 2018.  We would like to thank every one of them for continuing to support our work in so many ways.
 
Although each and every performance and project has their highlights, we have picked a few below to show some of the work we have done this year. I hope you enjoy looking back at GemArts 2018 year, where we have supported the best and brightest artistic talent, both emerging and established artists from the UK and abroad; continued to champion creativity and diversity; and have offered unique cultural experiences, to people of all ages and backgrounds, enabling exceptional opportunities to participate in diverse music, dance, literature and visual arts.
 

Masala Festival – following last year’s Journal Culture Arts Council Award win, we were proud to be a finalist this year for the Best Event Tyneside for Masala Festival, which returned for the third time in 2018 and celebrated an outstanding selection of artists and producers from the North of England, a fantastic range of South Asian art forms from poetry, dance and film to jazz and classical music, family fun days to amazing new visual arts commissions, including a new sculpture created by robotic arm! Keep an eye out for Masala Festival 2019!

 

GemArts Riverside Ragas continues to present the very best of raag based music concerts alongside informative pre-concert talks, masterclasses and demonstrations. 2018 featured some of the finest musicians from the UK and India: Shreya Devnath, Arnab Chakrabarty with Talvin Singh, Shashank Subramanyam, ONE (ensemble of Vainikas), Purbayan Chaterjee with Gurdain Rayatt, Jasdeep Singh Degun and ended with an incredible premier of Simon Thacker’s Svara Kanti’s new album Trikala. We have an incredible line up for you in Spring Summer 2019 check out our website for our programme announcement early January.

Every year we work with thousands of people on participatory projects, making diverse arts opportunities accessible to all. In April this year, we worked alongside  Durham County Council and schools across Durham, Stockton and Hartlepool, to mark the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, delivering cultural arts activities that celebrated the 53 nations, including Steel Pans, Indian Dance, Sri Lankan, Indian and Malaysian visual arts, African Drumming and Storytelling. On the 25th April, 1000 young people processed through Durham city centre to the cathedral to take part in a special service to mark the event.

In the centenary year of the Representation of the People Act, GemArts were invited to be part of PROCESSIONS, a UK-wide mass participation artwork to mark 100 years of women’s suffrage, produced by Artichoke and commissioned by 14-18 NOW, based on an idea by Darrell Vydelingum.

Our Feel Good group created a banner that represented what the vote means to them, what it is like being a women in the UK today, highlighting their past, present and their hopes for the future. On 10th of June, the group processed through Edinburgh, proudly showcasing their banner, with thousands of other women and girls across the UK. Wearing either green, white or violet, the colours of the suffragette movement, the PROCESSIONS appeared as a flowing river of colour through the city streets.

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October saw the launch of our new film #endmatecrime for National Hate Crime week. The film was made by participants from The Gateshead Housing Company’s customer led Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group and charity Changing Lives. Through creative arts sessions, working with our artist Tommy Anderson, participants created a series of hard hitting artwork, that have been designed into postcards, a poster and an animation film featuring real-life personal stories of victims of mate crime in Gateshead. You can watch the film here.


Our Arts, Health and Wellbeing strand continues to work with communities across Gateshead and Newcastle using creative engagement to address isolation and loneliness. This year we have worked alongside Gateshead Council to embed the Making Every Contact Count (MECC) approach, offering training to artists, staff and volunteers to support our creative practise.

Our flagship East by North East youth music project, now in it’s 5th year, engages with 177 young people on a weekly basis. Young people from diverse communities, living in challenging circumstances, take part in a wide range of musical genres. The project is committed to supporting a diverse music workforce ensuring gender equality across the programme.

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You can find out more about our work on our website www.gemarts.org

On behalf of everyone at GemArts and GVEMSG, we would like to thank you for your continued support, and wish you a very Merry Christmas, and all the best for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

 

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GemArts East by North East – Blog by music leader Kay Grayson (Nov 2018)

Here is a blog by Kay Grayson, who is one of our music leaders on GemArts’ Youth Music funded East by North East project. Kay’s blog gives a fascinating snap shot of her own amazing journey as a female rapper, and how she has used her skills through the project to support young women to develop their musical talent and confidence.

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As a rapper, I have been performing around the UK for nearly nine years as well as writing, mixing and mastering my own music including my underground 2016 mixtape ‘Morning After Music’. Now I am working with producer Suski to release my first EP and hopefully will continue performing across the country.

Alongside this I have been working with GemArts as a music leader. I started as a volunteer for Chat Trust: The Base, which is a project I attended from twelve years old and where I learned to use studio equipment. As a volunteer working with the girls group I found a passion for supporting young people with their creative interests and after a year I became a worker on the EBNE project.

The girls, that myself and the other music leaders have been working with, have faced many obstacles in their lives when it comes to wanting to create their own music, for example, English is not the first language for many of them which can add difficulty when it comes to writing music, and also create a lack of confidence, which is something they all struggled with at first.

Over time I have watched the girls become confident and competent musicians through their dedication and willingness to learn. They have gone from not wanting to sing in front of the microphone to learning to deliver their own raps in the studio and even showing an interest in how the studio works. Musically this has inspired me, and helping them to write and record has helped to develop my skills in both these areas. It is easy to write a rap when it is me alone, but it was altogether a new challenge to help someone else speak about their experiences in a group of four or five of their friends.

My favourite thing about the sessions is that they create a safe space for young people who live in areas where there may not be many opportunities available to them. As a female rapper I have faced barriers due to my gender and therefore know that it is invaluable to a young person’s confidence to be free to try things without fear of judgement. The openness of the sessions proves to the young people that music can be used as a tool to bring people together and promotes a positive message of diversity and acceptance.

East by North East is a Youth Music funded project led by GemArts. Building on the success of previous projects, during this third phase, we have expanded the prorgramme to provide more opportunities for professional musicians and young people living in challenging circumstances from BAMER and wider communities across Newcastle and Gateshead to work with one another, sustaining high quality music making regionally, and addressing community needs and issues.  A key element of the programme is to further diversify the music skills and workforce of music practitioners in the North East through offering CPD, training, peer to peer development and mentoring.

https://gemarts.org/projects/116/east-by-north-east

 

 

GemArts East by North East – Blog by music leader Izzy Finch (Nov 2018)

Here is a blog by Izzy Finch, who is one of our music leaders on GemArts’ Youth Music funded East by North East music project.  Izzy gives fantastic insight into working with young people from Syrian communities living in Gateshead to develop their musical and life skills, whilst providing a safe space for young people’s voices to be heard, develop leadership skills and for them to be empowered.   

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As project musicians, Pav and I first developed a relationship with members of this group when they had been in Gateshead less than one year whilst working on GemArts’ Dispersed Belongings project in collaboration with Durham University. Our initial sessions were based around the concept of belonging, identity and feelings of home. The participants had no previous experience of music making and we were working with an interpreter. During those early sessions we talked a lot about identity and I realised that there is a complexity of emotions surrounding belonging for most of the participants as there have been interim homes between Syria and Gateshead. Working on this project has changed my perception of not only belonging, home, identity but the value of music as a tool for discussion.

I am comfortable knowing that over time we created an environment where the participants developed trust and were invested enough to talk in depth about their aspirations for the project and were given a platform to write songs about things that were important to them. I think sometimes there is a fear when working as a music practitioner with marginalised communities that our own agenda/ expectations will interfere with the creative hopes and dreams of young people. We were careful to navigate a balance between guiding and leading, making sure participants were not exploited with the content of what they write about.

One of the first songs the group wrote is titled Syria. The lyrics to the song describe the country as their mother and Aleppo as their blood. It is a love letter to Syria. In the very beginning when we first started working together I facilitated an exercise where participants would describe colours, sounds, sights and smells of home or a significant memory. The group seemed unsure at first but soon everyone was writing in Arabic and absorbed in the task. I hadn’t prepared myself for how emotionally raw the content would be having elicited those feelings. I realised afterwards that I had expected the content to be about dislocated items or events but instead we uncovered that there is still a strong and prevalent sense of belonging to Syria and that this is something that the young people want to share and write about. One member said “I want to deliver a message to the people here about the situation in Syria” and continues to bring new lyrics in each week exploring this.

Sometimes a song idea will begin with a young person showing the group a song they like and we will begin talking about what aspects of that we like and what we will use as inspiration to create an original piece. For one song, we used Eminem- Stan as inspiration, and sampled the sound of rain to evoke emotion and used the structure of Eminem’s hit as a template with Arabic verses poetically describing a lost love and a chorus in English featuring female vocals working as a call and response.

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Our session structure changes depending on the ideas of the young people. Sometimes we all have an instrument and work as a band collectively, and other times we will use a MIDI controller and laptop to make electronic beats that vocalists want to put lyrics and a melody to. Within the current group, there are multiple song writers and the participants are self-motivated when it comes to organising their time within the session. For example, if we worked on one member’s song the previous week, they will talk amongst themselves and decide fairly that it is someone else’s turn to have their song rehearsed. New members are always welcomed and encouraged by the group to suggest ideas or lead a rehearsal. Lyrics are often in Arabic and sometimes have an English chorus with themes around the war in Syria, politics, nostalgia, love, lost love and friendship.

This year the core group are brimming with confidence and creativity. The sessions are very much participant led and we are preparing for a performance in a few months and introducing Arts Award. The group enjoy sharing and communicating their ideas in English, we rarely use the interpreter although sometimes we need one to translate lyrics and help with meaning but I l love that Arabic lyrics are a constant thread in everything we create. If new members come along and are struggling to speak English or understand what we are doing, the group enjoy interpreting and helping each other articulate their ideas.

It is a pleasure to be able to work with these young people and help them achieve self-belief and provide a creative outlet. I feel that this project has demonstrated the capacity Gem Arts have to meet the growing needs of marginalised groups within the North East.

East by North East is a Youth Music funded project led by GemArts. Building on the success of previous projects, during this third phase, we have expanded the prorgramme to provide more opportunities for professional musicians and young people living in challenging circumstances from BAMER and wider communities across Newcastle and Gateshead to work with one another, sustaining high quality music making regionally, and addressing community needs and issues.  A key element of the programme is to further diversify the music skills and workforce of music practitioners in the North East through offering CPD, training, peer to peer development and mentoring.

https://gemarts.org/projects/116/east-by-north-east

GemArts Autumn Winter Season 2018

As the lovely warm weather continues our Autumn Winter Season brochure has arrived and brings an eclectic mix of new commissions, exhibitions, workshops and events to the region for that Indian Summer glow. Download your full brochure here GemArts Autumn Winter 2018 Brochure

Thank you to everyone who came to our Masala Festival in July and made it such a huge success! You still have time to see Sumit Sarkar’s fantastic Everything Nothing Exhibition at Gateshead Central Library on until 2 October, featuring new commissioned work by GemArts, including a new marble sculpture created by a robotic arm!

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Launching our exceptional Riverside Ragas programme this Autumn we have spectacular Sitar players, Purbayan Chatterjee , accompanied by Gurdain Rayatt on Tabla, and rising star Jasdeep Singh Degun presenting groundbreaking sounds from the traditional to the contemporary.

Setting a new benchmark for Indo-Western collaboration, later in the season we are excited to present the official launch performance of GemArts supported, Trilaka epic double album of Simon Thacker’s Svara-Kanti.

 

With something for all the family, you can delight the kids in October half term, with Jungle Book, where you can follow fearless Mowgli’s wild adventures through the jungle with inventive shadow theatre, powerful music and colourful digital projections.

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Marking the festive season, November brings our annual Diwali festival of lights with delicious Indian food and a night of Bollywood and Bhangra Beats, bring your dancing shoes!  Outstanding vocalist Swati Natekar will take you on a musical journey in December with an evening of Ghazals, Thumris and old Bollywood Songs and we have a fantastic opportunity to hear novelist, Preti Taneja, reading from her debut novel We that are Young, a powerful retelling of King Lear set in contemporary New Delhi and winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018.

Celebrating the New Year we welcome star of the future Kaviraj Singh on santoor in January, as part of the exciting New Year, New Artists Festival at Sage Gateshead. Visit our website for more information on this soon.


As always we will be delivering workshops and projects for schools and with community groups over the coming months and launching our new animation to raise awareness of Mate Crime. Projects aim to support equality, promote diversity and tackle inequality. For more information about projects please visit GemArts Projects.

We look forward to seeing you over the coming months. Keep up to date on our news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

AWAKENINGS

by Bobby Tiwana, curator of AWAKE at GemArts Masala Festival.

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Still from ‘Hearing in the Bardo’

Again it’s a pleasure to be curating a film programme for GemArts Masala festival. This year’s programme is inspired by my father’s bladder cancer and mother’s atrial fibrillation diagnoses and spending much time in hospital waiting rooms. The irony was they’d both led clean lives. Regardless it got me thinking about lifestyle choices, long-term health outcomes and our inevitable mortality. Whilst waiting, I read NHS information leaflets, I observed the faces and postures of others, there were conversations; and there was time for much reflection.

I knew I didn’t want to show finger-wagging information films or documentaries about how to live better. The starting theme was health and well-being. Upon mining into this further it got me thinking about ‘what does it take to stay alive?’ Whilst my father’s news was a bolt out of the blue he was soon surrounded by a ring of love, followed by much listening, talking and compassion. I had some heart-warming conversations whilst waiting with strangers. People talked, wanting to share. There was no shame, embarrassment or judgement. Instead there was a shared empathy. Human contact and social interaction feel like vital components to being well.

Six shorts have been carefully selected in response to the programme’s theme. Whilst they are not explicitly about health they do strive for consciousness or there is an awakening; and they do embody a sense of humanity, because that is what I think gets us through. Psychology is a theme through all of the films, the mental health of our interior landscapes. We meet characters at a juncture, sometimes young – sometimes old, through live action narrative, stop motion and 2D animation, documentary-fiction and an experimental short.

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Still from ‘Three Brothers’

The programme kicks off with two British shorts. In the first, THREE BROTHERS, (a BAFTA Nominee, by Aleem Khan), Hamid, (played by Zain Muhammad Zafar) finds himself at the helm of family responsibility in the absence of his parents.

See the trailer for ‘THREE BROTHERS’

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Still from ‘Don’t Think of a Pink Elephant’

This is followed by DON’T THINK OF A PINK ELEPHANT (by Suraya Raja). Set in Liverpool, Layla fights her daily compulsions, her fear of certain objects. Now that Mum’s out what will happen between her and her brother Naz?

See the trailer for ‘DON’T THINK OF A PINK ELEPHANT’

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Still from ‘Moongfali Wala (The peanut seller)’

MOONGFALI WALA (THE PEANUT SELLER) (recent winner of the Satyajit Ray Short Film Award 2018) takes us 5,000 miles east to the megapolis of India’s capital Delhi. Every day Shakeel searches for his mother until life’s lottery has its way. Does the past define your future?  We find ourselves at a juncture. Made by filmmaker Etienne Sievers.

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Still from ‘The Day’

THE DAY (is made by experimental filmmaker Hilusha Hewagama). A serviceman experiences flashbacks of the past – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or psychosis? What’s real and what’s unreal – does it matter? This film forms part of a recent wave of filmmaking attempting to make sense of post-war Sri Lanka after 26 years’ of civil war.

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Still from ‘Hearing in the Bardo’

HEARING IN THE BARDO is a visual and aural meditation exploring the transient nature of life, death and rebirth. Shot in Nepal with the Sherpa people, filmmaker Isaac McCardle has created contemplation through film. The mountains of the rooftop of the world and the ethereal narration by Tenzin Phuntsok ease us to the next state of our existence.

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Still from ‘Maacher Jhol (The Fish Curry)’

We conclude with the animated MAACHER JHOL (THE FISH CURRY (by Abhishek Verma). Lalit, a 34-year old bachelor has something on his mind. He’s making fish curry, his father’s favourite dish. Set to a score of Bollywood classics which play out on the radio.

See the trailer for ‘MAACHER JHOL (THE FISH CURRY)’

The films will be followed by a post-screen discussion with industry professionals facilitated by myself, Bobby Tiwana.

GemArts Masala Festival: AWAKEFRI 20 JUL, 7pm, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA

Tickets £5 Buy here

Ticket includes welcome drink

Age 14+

Running time 2 hours

GemArts Masala Festival 2018

Masala Festival is back, bigger and better this year, from 14 – 22 July 2018, with 9 days of the finest South Asian Arts and Culture in the North East featuring music, poetry, dance, exhibitions, workshops and more.

Launching with the Odissi Dance Ensemble and the creation of a giant Rangoli by Ranbir Kaur on Performance Square on 14th July, 11am – 3pm.

Exhibitions and workshop with Digital artist Sumit Sarkar, delicious food from Dabbawal and Ashiyana Cafe@Arch16award winning poetsJazz and Classical Music and much more.

See the full programme GemArts Masala Festival 2018 Brochure FINAL

JOB VACANCY: COMMUNICATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT OFFICER (part time)

Job Title: Communications & Development Officer

Purpose of the Post
There is now an exciting opportunity to join GemArts in this role. As Communications
and Development Officer you will take lead responsibility for the implementation of
GemArts press and media activity and contribute to our communications and fundraising strategies.
We are looking for a highly motivated person, a creative thinker whose experience will
enable them to raise and maintain the profile and awareness of GemArts locally,
nationally and internationally. This role calls for a proactive, dynamic and reliable person who can make limited resources go far with an integrated approach.

For full job spec and how to apply see Job Pack and Application Form listed below.

Location – Based in GemArts office in Gateshead Central Library, Prince Consort Road, Gateshead, NE8 4LN with occasional regional or national travel.

Working Arrangement – A Part-time employment contract for 3 days per week or 22.5 hours is offered for a 2 years fixed term period. Some work during evenings and weekends will be required; time off in lieu will be granted for additional hours worked on a one to one basis.

Annual leave entitlement – 21 days per year pro rata

Salary – £20000.00 per annum pro rata, plus pension

Responsible to: Director and Board of Trustees and Steering Group 

How to Apply

Applications should be made on the Application Form below. Please follow the instructions on the Application Form carefully. The Job Pack and Application Form contain the key information needed to make an application.  CVs will not be accepted.

Application deadline: 10am Monday 14th May 2018

Send your completed application form to: vikas@gemarts.org

Interviews will be held on Thursday 24th May 2018

Full job spec and application form see below:  

GemArts Communications and Development Officer Job Pack April 2018

GemArts_Application_Form_April 2018

 

PROCESSIONS 2018

 

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This year 100 women artists are being commissioned to work with organisations and communities across the UK, to create 100 centenary banners for PROCESSIONS, as part of an extensive public programme of creative workshops. The project marks 100 years since the Representation of the People Act gave the first British women the right to vote and stand for public office.

Community banner-making has started up and down the country, and GemArts is one of the organisations chosen to work on this exciting project. GemArts is working with GVEMSG’s Women’s Feel Good Group, on participatory textiles and visual arts sessions offering the group a creative, active, educational and safe environment, to overcome barriers and build confidence, through interacting, socialising and supporting each other.

Members of the Feel Good Group fed back that they would like to continue to take part in arts sessions with GemArts artists. This project will allow the women to spend time designing and creating a banner with professional artist Michelle Wood, exploring the themes of PROCESSIONS, what the vote means to them, representing the women and their ideas, celebrating their culture and identities, as well as their concerns and hopes for the future.

The group will also travel to Edinburgh in June as part of a nationwide event, in which women from all walks of life will come together to mark this historic moment, 100 years on, of the passing of the Act that first granted some women the right to vote.

The Feel Good Group are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Michelle again, and to be a part of this exciting national project. We’ll keep you updated as the work progresses.

PROCESSIONS is commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary and produced by Artichoke. With support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

PROCESSIONS Cardiff is produced by Artichoke in partnership with Festival of Voice and Wales Millennium Centre.

Find out more about PROCESSIONS at www.processsions.co.uk .

Find out more about artist Michelle Wood here www.seatern.co.uk.

Find out more about the GVEMSG Feel Good Group here https://gvemsgwomensgroup.wordpress.com

JOB VACANCY: ADMINISTRATOR (part time)

The deadline for this post has now passed.

Job Title :  Administrator (Part Time)

Purpose of the Post :
There is now an exciting opportunity to join GemArts to provide administrative support
and contribute to the smooth running of the organisation.
We are looking for a highly motivated and proactive person. The successful applicant
will report directly to GemArts’ Director and Board of Trustees, and will work closely with the Project Manager, Communications and Development Officer, staff and other
volunteers.

Main Duties and Responsibilities :
The duties and responsibilities outlined below are intended to be an indication of the
scope and nature of the post and are subject to review periodically through staff review
and appraisal;
• Provide support to the Director, Project Manager, Communications and Development
Officer and other members of the trustees, management committee, staff and
volunteers as required.
• Ensure effective and efficient company administration
• Undertake routine office duties, including dealing with the post, mailing, record
keeping and filing, word processing and database maintenance.
• Maintain paper and electronic filing systems
• Be responsible for the organisation’s administration and the implementation and
maintenance of appropriate office systems and up to date financial records.
• Deal effectively and efficiently with enquiries and requests from members of the
public, partner organisations and individual artists.
• Provide specific project support, including appropriate support of the planning
process, contacting artists and participants, preparing schedules and itineraries,
keeping up to date records, managing bookings and assisting at events and
performances as required.
• Provide administrative support to meetings as required including board meetings –
minutes, send out paperwork, diary management, room booking etc.
• Maintain the website/social networking sites/email newsletter and change images
and content as required.
• Accept responsibility for appropriate behaviour regarding Health & Safety, Equality
and Diversity, fair treatment of others and maintenance of high levels of customer
service, as well as compliance with appropriate policies.
• Undertake other duties appropriate to the post and in line with the needs of the
organisation.

Full job spec : GemArts Administrator Job Spec Jan2018

Location : Based in GemArts office in Gateshead with occasional regional or national travel.

Hours : Part-time, 2 days or 16 hours per week.

Salary : £15,405.00 pro rata plus pension.

Deadline : 2pm Friday 26th January 2018.

How to apply for the post : Please send an up to date CV to mick.kumar@adecco.co.uk  by 2pm on Friday 26th January 2018.