October 12 2009

Developing Cultural Exchange Projects

Ethiopia Cultural Exchange

With support from Goldstar and our Arts Council of Wales Beacon Award, Laura Bradshaw who runs our Betws Community Choir will be travelling to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in October 2009 to work with the Ethiopian Gemini Trust. Laura: “it is an amazing opportunity and I feel honoured to be asked”.

The Ethiopian Gemini Trust was launched from a rusty old shipping container in a corner of the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa; it started life as a feeding programme for mothers with twins. Today, 25 years later, Gemini is a well-established NGO providing a comprehensive family approach to foster better livelihoods to over 12,000 of Addis Ababa’s poorest people. Gemini was also one of the first organisations to recognise the important role the creative arts can play in developing the potential of young people, and have pioneered work in Ethiopia in this area. Fundamental to these skills was the unshakeable belief that, provided with quality training, young people can develop and demonstrate enormous talent.

Working with Towelda, the music teacher at The Ethiopian Gemini Trust, Laura will help to set up the new Gemini Community Choir. Working with young and older people in the project, they will write and perform local songs, sung in Amharic, songs from other African countries, and explore and integrate Welsh songs for the first time. Laura and Towelda will also write a song for Gemini with the young Gemini musicians to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Alison McGann, Photography Worker and Visual Artist at Valley and Vale will also be traveling with Laura. Alison will help to document the choir project with photographers from Gemini and the Gem artists and will also work on a collaborative photography project linking photographers in Betws with Gemini photographers in Ethiopia, working on shared themes and creating an on-line exhibition and hopefully a new publication, calendar and postcard series to raise funds for the charity.

Our Film Development Worker Tracy Pallant, who has a longstanding relationship with the Gemini Trust (having worked with Gem TV, a community video company part of the Gemini Trust, on a voluntary basis for the last 8 years), will work with Gem TV to produce a short film about the Goldstar project, and will also work with Gem TV to deliver film production workshops in local schools to continue their sustainable development media training programme.

Laura, Alison and Tracy are incredibly excited about this multimedia cultural exchange project, making links with people in Ethiopia and Betws through creativity.

Tracy is already over there and has sent this short blog to us from Ethiopia:

‘ Hello Alison and Laura!
All very exciting here, can’t wait to see you both, 30 people of all different ages already signed up for choir, no pressure, Towelda knows It’s a community choir, he’s been teaching the musicians who you’ll work with in the morning Kumbaya and 8 people have signed up for photography already and there’s a waiting list. So all ready for you and its lovely to see everyone again.
Tracy xx’

This is part of our programme of international development work, based on the premise ‘think global, act local’. We are currently exploring making links with people in countries and communities across Europe and Africa supported by Goldstar and our Arts Council of Wales Beacon Award.