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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.

 

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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

HARAMBEE PASADIA FESTIVAL 201

Our good friend Harambee Pasadia Festival returns this Bank Holiday weekend with an extraordinary festival of music, dance, workshops, well-being and loads more. Dont miss your chance to be a part of it!

 

 

Harambee Pasadia: Afro Fusion Music, Dance, & Camping Festival

May 26-29 Gates open 5pm

Venue: The Hub, Shaw Bank, Barnard Castle, County Durham, DL12 8TD

Harambee (Swahili) ‘let’s get together’
Pasadia (Spanish) ‘to spend the day’

Harambee Pasadia is the first Afro Fusion Music and Dance festival in the North East of England and aims to celebrate the diverse music, cultures and fusions of the African and Latin Diaspora; to get folks out of the city and into the country; to create a space where musicians, visual artists, dancers, and theatre makers who specialize or have an interest in African, Caribbean, and Latin cultures can network and collaborate; to expose audiences to new music, art and culture; to increase artists outreach and fan base; to create an affordable space that attracts  audiences from marginalised communities; and to create a community and network of artists, thinkers, activists, community leaders, and volunteers that support and inspire one another.

Our friends are offering GemArts blog readers a 20% discount on weekend and day tickets (http://www.harambeepasadia.com/tickets.html) use the following passwords to access this discount.

Adult Weekend Password: HP17AdltWk20%

Adult Friday Password: HP17AdltFri20%

Adult Saturday Password: HP17AdltSat20%

Adult Sunday Password: HP17AdltSun20%

Under 18 Weekend Password: HP17Und18WK20%

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