Author: AlexandraMG

Spring Summer 2019 Season Launch

We launch our Spring Summer 2019 season with another exciting concert series, featuring emerging musicians to artists whose family musical history spans five centuries, with everything from Sitar and Sufi devotional music to a re-imagined String Quartet.


This season we have a special focus on dance, showcasing incredible commissions and performances that tell those untold stories. Crackle.Dust. by Company of Others, is an unveiling of women’s resilience, inspired by women of the North. Jaivant Patel’s YAATRA shares a fresh perspective on South Asian LGBTQ+ narratives, faith and spirituality; and A Thousand Faces blends Kathak dance with physical theatre and mime, subverting the imagery of Bollywood beauty and Hollywood glamour to explore the objectification of women.

For young people and families, February welcomes the return of our popular half term Mini Mela event in Gateshead, with FREE, family arts workshops including Steel Pans, Bollywood Dancing, Chinese Arts, Persian Calligraphy and more. Come along and create your own artwork to take home.

Our work with young people around the region continues with diverse arts workshops in schools and communities across the region, working with pupils of all ages and abilities.

We are very proud of our young Syrian musicians, part of our EbNE project, who have been commissioned for Poetry Despite, Music Despite, part of Aaron Hughes work for BALTIC Artists’ Award 2019. Creating their own poetry and songs as a re-imagining of Wilfred Owen’s poetry using their own experiences of war, belonging and home,  they will perform at BALTIC early February.

In April, we celebrate the culmination of our East by North East youth music project with a performance event at Sage Gateshead, recognising the achievements and talents of 170 young people from across Newcastle and Gateshead who take part in our weekly music sessions.

To find out more about our upcoming programme scroll down, and to see our full Spring Summer 2019 season visit www.gemarts.org or download your copy of the brochure here: GemArts Spring Summer 2019 brochure.

Also watch out for Masala Festival updates. Masala Festival 2019 returns from July 15 – 21st.

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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.

 

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.

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