Community

Autumn Winter 2017 season

gembro-aw2017-banner-v05

Debasmita Bhattachraya Credit Pallab Mondal 8419 Main

GemArts events offer audiences something different, celebrating art and culture from around the world, bringing world famous acts to the north east, offering events and projects accessible to all.

This season is packed with a diverse range of musicians and musical influences (from Ska and Jazz, to Indian Classical and world fusion, featuring sitar, sarod, tabla and more). Family fun days and Kathakali performances offer something for everyone, and a Khyal exhibition, Diwali celebrations celebrate art, culture and community.

 

GemArts is committed to introducing a diverse and rich cultural offer to as many people as possible, as always keep checking www.gemarts.org for updates and please visit the Support Us page if you are in a position to make a gift.

Find out more about the season here and download our brand new brochure GemArts-aw2017 .

 

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Merry Christmas and a look back at a great 2016

Merry Christmas

One of the things I enjoy most in December is looking back over the previous 12 months, being reminded of the wonderful artists, communities, volunteers and organisations GemArts has worked with, and the generous donors and funders who supported our work in so many ways this year.

In 2016 we continued to showcase the best and brightest talent across the arts, while championing creativity and diversity, and always ensuring our artists received the support and profile they deserved. GemArts’ audiences were given access to unique cultural experiences, with people of all ages and backgrounds given opportunities to enjoy and make exceptional music, dance and art, while developing new skills and building confidence along the way. In a year that made many people feel disconnected and alone, we brought people together, and showed what a fantastic and diverse community of people live in the North East.

This year we strengthened relationships and developed new partnerships, allowing GemArts’ performance programme and participatory projects to have further impact across the region and beyond, and our hate crime awareness raising work won us a national award. We’ve picked just a few of our highlights from 2016, and I’m sure you will have your own favourites.
 
On behalf of the GemArts team and GVEMSG, I 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.

Best wishes and see you in 2017.
 
Vikas Kumar

Director, GemArts

GemArts Masala Festival Mini Mela Magic Fish banners crowd photo Anna Miller Thank you Feel Good Group glass work  Image by Anna Miller.jpg

Masala Festival – Our brand new week-long festival launched in July, with a mix and blend of the very finest South Asian arts and culture. We couldn’t have done it without the fantastic artists, audiences, participants, volunteers, donors, funders and partners who helped ensure Masala Festival was a huge success. The festival returns on the 17th July 2017, more information coming soon!

Catalyst Evolve – A successful application to Arts Council England’s Catalyst Evolve fund saw us continue to lead a consortium with two Gateshead Arts charities (Equal Arts and The Lawnmowers). This also means we can match your generous donations £1 for £1! Help GemArts deliver life enhancing projects for disadvantaged communities by donating what you can here.

Health and Wellbeing: Feel Good Group – Our Women’s Group brings together women from diverse communities, and this year they have worked with glass artist Effie Burns. They have been busy developing new creative skills to create unique, high quality glass artworks, whilst sharing experiences and developing support networks to tackle isolation and improve health and wellbeing. The women raised a whopping £130 for their project at their first craft fair in December!  

East by North East – Throughout the year our Youth Music funded project offered music making opportunities to more than 130 young people each week. Young participants have really wowed us with their talent and dedication to the project. With new artists also joining the cohort, the last 12 months have truly strengthened the rich offer for music leaders and those they work with in Newcastle. 

Arun Ghosh workshops and performance – In April pupils from Roman Road Primary school were given the chance of a lifetime when they spent three days with international Jazz clarinettist Arun Ghosh, creating three new pieces which they performed at the opening of Sage Gateshead’s International Jazz Festival 2016. Mini Melas – Between February and October we packed in not one, not two but THREE Mini Melas, bringing free family arts activity to Gateshead, Newcastle and Durham. In total over 900 children and their families visited us at a Mini Mela in 2016, taking part in arts activity from all around the world.

WILD WOOL at The Late Shows – We were delighted to present a fantastic new co-commission with Apple Yang’s Appetite Dance Productions at the 10th Anniversary of The Late Shows in May. You can catch Apple Yang: WILD WOOL in all its glory at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in 2017.

Trimfest – Not content introducing one new festival last year, GemArts also helped bring a brand new festival offering to East Durham in October. Working with Trimdon Parish Council we brought exciting, culturally diverse performances and workshops to audiences in Trimdon. 

Khyal: Music and Imagination – We took our work with Durham University to a new level with this fantastic project, building on academic research into the ways in how we experience and imagine classical Indian performance, using insights to generate new kinds of engagement and creativity. A beautiful exhibition, on display in November, showcased the stunning new work created by artists and local school pupils, as well as an innovative new iPad app.

 

Sign up to GemArts’ monthly e-newsletter here to be the first to find out about our fantastic new Spring Summer 2017 season.

My week with GemArts Masala Festival

GemArts recently hosted a student placement, Liam Scarth, who helped during the planning, delivery and evaluation of GemArts Masala Festival in July 2016. Liam, a 2nd year BA Acting Community Theatre student at East 15 Drama School in Southend, identified GemArts as an organisation he would like to work with as part of a placement module within his degree course. Listing his main passions as teaching, working with younger people and bringing communities together, Liam was the perfect fit for a placement with GemArts, and he contributed a great deal to the team during an exciting and busy 3 weeks with us. Before completing his placement Liam wrote this great review of GemArts Masala Festival which we’re delighted to share with you.

Masala Logo (Pink) Resized 600 px

For one week Gateshead and Newcastle became a melting pot of cultural activity, as GemArts served up a delectable dish which they had been cooking up for some time. The festival recipe started with a good dollop of inspiring short film, next they poured in a hearty helping of musical artistry, a dash of perfectly palatable poetry, a sprinkle of elating exhibitions, a good handful of performance art, seasoned with wonderful workshops and topped off with a sensational finale. The temperature was set to that of an Indian summer, and then GemArts served up the mouth-watering Masala Festival to a culture-hungry public.

Masala Festival launched on the 11th July with ALIVE! a ground-breaking evening of short films curated by independent producer Bobby Tiwana. ALIVE! celebrated being South Asian and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The beautifully selected, and composed films touched on universal themes such as that awkward first kiss, or the loss of childhood innocence, along with more individual experiences such as dealing with certain stigmas, and stories of hope. It had such a profound effect on people it raised heated debates in the Q and A. What is my identity? How do we find a place of belonging? Rousing speeches from the panel provided new ideas and thoughts for the audience to take home.

GemArts Masala Festival ALIVE post show ID BT photo Anna Miller Little Elephant GemArts Masala Festival launch photo Anna Miller

The festival barrelled on with two mind blowing musical performances; Manjula, a Leeds-based band mixing sounds from across the globe, and Shri Sriram with new project Just a Vibration, where Indian Ragas met British Brass Band. On subsequent nights these two groups had the power to transport you to new continents. One moment I was in a Newcastle or Gateshead venue, the next I was bathing in the heat of the sun, in a South Indian garden. Audiences sat humbled, soaking in the rich melodies.

Masala Festival also introduced us to the varied work of three prolific poets. Identity, politics and mythology; were our themes for the evening. Moniza Alvi, Amali Rodrigo and Arundhathi Subramaniam, although under the same publisher; BloodAxe Books, all had their own take on the themes. The audience came together to listen to poets describing vast journeys, spiritual awakenings, and cultural norms. With every word I understood a little more of countries over the water, and with every hour during the festival I grew fonder of our varied world.

There were also plenty of chances to get your hands into the mixing bowl and take part in Masala Festival yourself. Poet Arundhathi gave an enlightening workshop at Culture Lab before her reading. Artist Emma Sheridan worked with primary schools in the local area, introducing them to beautiful Indian visual arts. Emma inspired children in one school to create bright, colourful silk paintings based on the tale of The Magic Fish. These then filled the sky, on flags and banners, for the Mini Mela finale. Yoga sessions were available to those who wanted to embody the true spirit of South Asia, and DOGA (Yoga for you and wor pooch!) added a quirky extra. For the more energetic few, Bollywood Dance offered people the opportunity to get their booty on the dance floor, or Trinity Square floor!

GemArts Masala Festival silk painting in school photo Anna Miller GemArts Masala Festival Monks of Majuli and students photo Anna Miller

For a real taste of South Asia, Ury Restaurant’s cooking demonstrations shared Keralan cuisine secrets. For those who prefer to skip the cooking but enjoy the eating, Ury Restaurant also provided delicious food at the Mini Mela finale on the Sunday. No one missed out at this festival, all were catered for!

GemArts had yet more treats up their sleeve, as Turbanism a photography exhibition opened in Gateshead Central Library. Photographer Rehmat Rayatt travelled to Rajasthan to document the world of the Turban, and the unfortunate demise of the turban culture. The exhibition didn’t create a feeling of demise, as vibrant colours sprang from the frames, filling the gallery with majestic shades of orange, red, purple and yellow. Alongside the photographs, a selection of turbans sat patiently on display. Upstairs continued on a more personal storyline with images documenting her grandfathers’ love for photography and their family’s migration.

On Saturday Sage Gateshead became the host to India’s sacred arts as The Monks of Majuli, gave audience members a once in a life time opportunity. This was the Monks first visit to Britain, and Gateshead was their final stop on a month long tour. In the pre-show discussion, we were enlightened to Georgie Pope’s PhD work and the pilgrimage of the Monks to see their sacred Assamese tapestry in the British Museum. Drumming, dancing, singing, acting, costume were all elements of the performance offering. All audience members were truly awe stricken by the event. After giving a standing ovation, and wiping some joyful tears from their eyes, audience members left in bright chatter and all in agreement they had witnessed something truly special.

GemArts managed to top off this jam packed week very successfully. The Mini Mela brought the new Live Garden to life on the final Sunday of the festival. With the Newcastle Quayside Market bustling not far away it felt like the perfect day for Sunday celebrations with people from all backgrounds gathered in the sunshine. GemArts filled the garden with free arts activity for all ages, punters could choose from: face painting, henna art, Rangoli art, kite making, elephant model making, sculpture painting or to browse the wares of local jewellery makers. Indoor workshops offered a chance to find your rhythm with Dhol drumming, Bollywood Dance and mini movers classes. At 11am and 2:30pm the square exploded into bright colours and sound as the Dhol drum dropped a beat for local dancers to throw some Bollywood shapes. They were followed by a procession of banners, flags and sculptures held by the eager, paint covered hands of local bairns, all on their way to watch the performance of The Magic Fish. ATMA Dance Company adapted the story of Vishnu, where he comes to save the Earth from the demon No-Knowledge. With a powerful, invigorating and uplifting message, young and old alike went away with a spring in their step.

GemArts Masala Festival Mini Mela Bollywood Dance procession photo Anna Miller GemArts Masala Festival Mini Mela Magic Fish banners crowd photo Anna Miller

So there you have it, a mix and blend of the finest South Asian arts and culture squeezed into this review. GemArts Masala Festival served up a vision of South Asian culture today, and with plans for an even bigger and tastier celebration next year, to mark the 70th Anniversary of India’s Independence, I think we all better settle down, tuck in our napkins and get ready to chow down on some more wholesome worldly experiences.

Written by Liam Scarth, student Placement with GemArts between 4th July and 22nd July 2016

Images: GemArts Masala Festival credit Anna Miller

Vaisakhi Festival Celebrations

This year Vaisakhi falls on Wednesday 13th April, and later that month GemArts and Gateshead Visible Ethnic Minorities Support Group host their annual celebrations at Gateshead Civic Centre on Saturday 23rd April, marking this special date in the Sikh calendar. (Call 0191 440 4124 or email info@gemarts.org to book your tickets)

Vaisakhi is a long established harvest festival in Punjab.  It falls on either the 13th or 14th April every year. Vaisakhi is one of the holiest days in Sikhism, commemorating Khalsa, and it marks the Sikh New Year.  It is also observed with different significance attached to it in different parts of India.

Vaisakhi in Sikhism

Vaisakhi is one of the biggest celebrations of the year for the Sikh community.  It is one of the holiest days in Sikhism, commemorating KHALSA, the establishment of the Sikh religion. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of the Sikh founded the Khalsa at the Vaisakhi gathering is 1699 at Anandpur. Guru Gobind Singh had arranged for followers from all over India to meet him at the Vaisahki fair in Anandpur.  He asked for five people to come forward who were willing to die for their religion. After the prayers he sprinkled AMRIT – water with sugar (strength must always be balanced by sweetness of temperament) and stirred with a steel sword (symbolising the need for strength). He declared them to be the first members of a new community of equals, to be called Khalsa, meaning pure. They will dedicate their lives to the service of others and the pursuit of justice for people of all faiths.  These five people were called the PANJ PYARE, and were asked to wear five distinctive symbols of their new identity, the five ‘k’s and a turban.

  1.  Kesh (long uncut hair) – The long uncut hair symbolises chivalry, saintness and courage.
  2.  Khanga (comb)- It is needed to keep the long hair set and tidy, symbolises cleanliness.
  3.  Kirpan (sword)-A sword is a symbol for royalty and knighthood
  4.  Kara (iron bracelet)-Symbol of everlasting love for God. It is round like a ring and therefore no beginning or end.
  5.  Kachera (underwear)-Specially tailored shorts and symbolises purity and restraint.

TURBAN: The turban has great significance in Sikhism. Apart from looking smart and handsome, it is considered the CROWN of a Sikh. It is true to say that without a turban there is no Kaur or Singh just as without a crown there is no king or queen.

To end social divisions, the Panj Pyara’s surnames were removed by the Guru, mainly because surnames were associated with ones cast – the Guru gave them (and all Sikh men) the name SINGH, meaning the “lion”, a reminder of the need for courage.  At the same time, the Guru gave all Sikh women the name or title Kaur, meaning “princess” to emphasise dignity and complete equality. The Guru then knelt below the five and asked them to initiate him. Hence, the Khalsa became a community in which master and disciple were equal.

Vaisakhi brings a unique message of tolerance, harmony and equality amongst Sikh communities. In a modern day society, it is clear to observe the equality amongst all citizens, regardless of their class, colour and gender through Sikhism. By working together communities can strengthen themselves with a wide understanding of the rich diversity they are surrounded by.

As far as farmers are concerned, Vaisakhi is not a religious occasion for them, it is the time to harvest the crops especially wheat. On Vaisakhi farmers thank God for the beautiful crop and pray for good times ahead. People buy new clothes, sing, dance and enjoy the best of festival food.

For more information on our Vaisahki Celebrations event taking place on Saturday 23rd April visit here. We’ll see you on the dance floor!

Vaisakhi guest high commissioner credit Mohammed Rayaz Vaiasakhi performance credit Mohammed Rayaz Vaisakhi dancer pose credit Mohammed Rayaz Vaisakhi guests credit Mohammed Rayaz

Image credit: Mohammed Rayaz

My week with GemArts

Hello, my name is Hina, I am a student at Joseph Swan Academy. In July 2015 I completed a 1 week placement with GemArts as part of my work experience. While working with GemArts Director, Vikas, and the team, I got to see what goes on behind the scenes at their events and during their other project work.

During my week with GemArts they had an event at the Newcastle Beacon, to celebrate the East by North East project GemArts led which helped young people from Newcastle learn about and create their own music. I helped GemArts Administrator, Jade, make sure there was enough CD/DVDs for the guests, and prepared the room before everyone arrived, making sure that the venue had enough space for the speeches and performances to take place, as well as helping set up the catering and check the sound. We handed out leaflets which included a running order of what would happen during the event. During the event there was a video about the progress young people have made producing their own new music. GemArts also presented some young people with Arts Award certificates which show how much commitment and hard work they had put into the project. Some of the groups also performed their music, which all the guests thoroughly enjoyed. At the end we helped tidy up the venue and had a chat with artists and guests that had attended to say thank you for coming and supporting the event. This opportunity was really interesting because I got to see what goes on behind the scenes of planning events and seeing the types of projects GemArts deliver.

Another interesting part of my work experience week was when I visited GemArts visual arts projects. My first visit was to the project working with a group of young mothers from different backgrounds living in Byker. I went to see this group, who meet up weekly in the Newcastle Byker centre with GemArts’ Project Manager, Alex. The women meet weekly, and work with GemArts artist Emma, learning how to make beautiful artworks using different materials. After seeing this group of women work together it made me think about how art can bring people from different backgrounds and cultures together, where strangers can start to get along like they are old friends. To me it shows how powerful and universal art is, something which I hadn’t previously thought about.

During the rest of my time working for GemArts I learnt how different people had different roles to help maintain the work of the organisation, and how the office runs. GemArts Communications and Development Officer, Sinead, explained how the organisation looks for opportunities and works to increase their audiences and the coverage of their events and projects. Part of this work included updating the school and organisation contacts lists on a database so the team will be able to contact these people about future projects and events.

Overall I really enjoyed my time working for GemArts for my work experience, and I learnt a lot about how they and other groups operate.

Here is a photo of me on a visit to one of GemArts’ secondary school projects holding an Anti Hate Crime posters design created by year 8 pupils.

Post by Hina Khalid

School Anti Hate Crime Project visit

School Anti Hate Crime Project visit

VAISAKHI

This year Vaisahki falls on Tuesday 14th April, and later this month GemArts and GVEMSG host their annual celebrations at Gateshead Civic Centre, which will mark this special date in the Sikh calendar. Here we share information on Vaisahki and its importance within Sikhism.

Vaisakhi is a long established harvest festival in Punjab.  It falls on 13th April every year, except every thirty-sixth year where it falls on the 14th April.

Vaisakhi is one of the holiest days in Sikhism, commemorating Khalsa, i.e. the establishment of the religion in 1699, as it also marks the Sikh New Year.  It is also observed with different significance attached to it in different parts of India.

Vaisakhi in Sikhism

Vaisakhi is one of the biggest celebrations of the year for the Sikh community.  It is one of the holiest days in Sikhism, commemorating KHALSA, the establishment of the Sikh religion. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of the Sikh founded the Khalsa at the Vaisakhi gathering is 1699 at Anandpur. Guru Gobind Singh had arranged for followers from all over India to meet him at the Vaisahki fair in Anandpur.  He asked for five people to come forward who were willing to die for their religion. After the prayers he sprinkled AMRIT – water with sugar (strength must always be balanced by sweetness of temperament) and stirred with a steel sword (symbolising the need for strength). He declared them to be the first members of a new community of equals, to be called Khalsa, meaning pure. They will dedicate their lives to the service of others and the pursuit of justice for people of all faiths.  These five people were called the PANJ PYARE, and were asked to wear five distinctive symbols of their new identity, the five ‘k’s and a turban.

  1.  Kesh (long uncut hair) – The long uncut hair symbolises chivalry, saintness and courage.
  2.  Khanga (comb)- It is needed to keep the long hair set and tidy, symbolises cleanliness.
  3.  Kirpan (sword)-A sword is a symbol for royalty and knighthood
  4.  Kara (iron bracelet)-Symbol of everlasting love for God. It is round like a ring and therefore no beginning or end.
  5.  Kachera (underwear)-Specially tailored shorts and symbolises purity and restraint.

TURBAN: The turban has great significance in Sikhism. Apart from looking smart and handsome, it is considered the CROWN of a Sikh. It is true to say that without a turban there is no Kaur or Singh just as without a crown there is no king or queen.

To end social divisions, the Panj Pyara’s surnames were removed by the Guru, mainly because surnames were associated with ones cast – the Guru gave them (and all Sikh men) the name SINGH, meaning the “lion”, a reminder of the need for courage.  At the same time, the Guru gave all Sikh women the name or title Kaur, meaning “princess” to emphasise dignity and complete equality. The Guru then knelt below the five and asked them to initiate him. Hence, the Khalsa became a community in which master and disciple were equal.

Vaisakhi brings a unique message of tolerance, harmony and equality amongst Sikh communities. In a modern day society, it is clear to observe the equality amongst all citizens, regardless of their class, colour and gender through Sikhism. By working together communities can strengthen themselves with a wide understanding of the rich diversity they are surrounded by.

Celebration by Farmers

As far as farmers are concerned, Vaisakhi is not a religious occasion for them. India is a farming country. Vaisakhi is the time to harvest the crops especially wheat. On Vaisakhi farmers thank God for the beautiful crop and pray for good times ahead. People buy new clothes, sing, dance and enjoy the best of festival food.

For more information on our Vaisahki Celebrations event taking place on Saturday 25th April visit here.

MINI MELA

Image James Sebright The Late Shows by James Sebright

Images:  James Sebright

This Saturday (21st Feb) GemArts and GVEMSG welcome back the Mini Mela at Caedmon Hall, Gateshead Central Library. The mini mela has always been a very popular event, celebrating diversity and offering families the opportunity to join in with a range of arts activity. GemArts have managed to pack a lot into this 4 hour event, with Aboriginal dot painting, Indian rangoli making, Chinese dragon making and origami sessions running 10am – 2pm in the main hall, and African drumming and Mini Movers dance classes taking place in side rooms throughout the event. All sessions are free, and most are drop in so there is no need to book, the only exception is African drumming and Mini Movers where we need to keep an eye on numbers. Visitors wanting to book onto the mini movers or drumming workshops can see a member of GemArts staff at the event who will book you onto the next available session.

GemArts and GVEMSG’s work across Gateshead and the wider north east brings us into contact with lots of great organisations offering specialist services, advice and support. We’re delighted to be working with Gateshead Council on this event, and we have also invited some of our other good friends along. Visitors can take advantage of information and advice from Citizen Advice Bureau, the Gateshead Housing Company, and the Police.  We have also invited our friends at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art along, Artists and Crew from the gallery will be offering visitors to the Mini Mela the chance to help create a huge mixed media spice installation.

The Mini Mela will end with a huge energetic finale when Arts Isiziba bring an African Drumming performance into the main hall.

For more information on the Mini Mela visit www.gemarts.org

Post by Sinead

October 2014, Happy Diwali, Lifetime achievement awards, and whats to come

Happy Diwali from GemArts

Happy Diwali from GemArts

So far this season we have already welcomed the Sikh Fortress Turban to Sunderland Museum&Winter Gardens as part of a Spotlight Programme Loan from the British Museum, brought Penned in the Margins two man miniature epic The Shroud to Caedmon Hall, presented two awe inspiring classical Indian concerts with Debashish Bhattacharya and Jyoti Hegde at Sage Gateshead, and worked with Seven Stories to create their Diverse Voices exhibition.

Now October is here we look forward to Amina Khayyam Dance Company’s (AKDC) kathak interpretation of Yerma on 25th. With the original set in rural patriarchal and religiously repressive Spain, AKDC have re-imagined this work as an Indian classical dance for an inner city community.

Diwali is also now upon us, as always we are enjoying celebrating the festival of lights with friends and families. Once the family celebrations die down we will host our annual celebration at the Civic Centre, with performances, DJs, food and plenty of fun for all the family on 1st Nov.

A special mention must go to our Founder and Trustee Mr Bahal, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gateshead Awards 2014. Mr Bahal was invited to a special ceremony last week, where he celebrated with guests from across the borough.

This November will be a busy month for GemArts, with Grammy award winners, local talent and work crossing science and dance, but more on that soon!

For more information on GemArts programme visit http://www.gemarts.org/whatson/

 

Post by Sinead