Beyond Skin CEO Darren Ferguson along with Beyond Skin facilitators and musicians Davy Bates & Jan Uhrin will travel to Sri Lanka later this month to work with 5 schools.
They will also be joined by David Thomson from the Shankill Road Defenders Flute Band who is involved in another Beyond Skin flagship project, 'Music Unite'.
Fionnuala Walsh, Head of Participatory Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: "The Arts Council is delighted to support this innovative, international project which provides a wonderful opportunity for young people in Northern Ireland to engage with young people in Sri Lanka through music. The arts have an intrinsic value in allowing us to approach and understand difficult, complex issues and these musical exchanges will inspire these young people, stimulate discussion around the challenges they face and encourage a continuing love of music and creativity."
Music Unite is a project developed by both the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and Beyond Skin which engages with Loyalist Flute Bands. The project aims to provide an opportunity, through music, for loyalist band members and musicians from different cultures to develop relationships, enabling a shared peaceful expression and celebration of identity whilst challenging the stereotypes that are often associated with Loyalist bands.
The Music Unite Project is a very unique and pioneering model that was started in January 2015 with the Shankill Road Defenders (SRD) Flute Band.
The project continues in 2016 with new flute bands joining the project in a number of public events.
Beyond Skin CEO Darren Ferguson said "As an organisation we are exploring how to develop links between our flagship partnership programmes, Parallel Versing, WOMADNI, Music Unite and Homely Planet. The Parallel Versing project has produced some wonderful shared music, but admittedly it has been exporting and sharing more of the traditional Irish culture to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has some wonderful marching bands so when we started Music Unite we knew it would be a great opportunity to share and introduce an equally important part of Northern Ireland culture through the music of Loyalist Flute Bands. I have no doubt this trip will be a catalyst for positive change strengthening again how the Arts enrich lives and are fundamental to our better quality of life"
Lord Alderdice, Chairman of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building said: "I have long been of the view that the arts, especially music have key role to play in processes of healing. We are delighted that through Music Unite project we are beginning to find a new route to peace and relationship building in the divided society, here in Northern Ireland and beyond and a new way of working together and connecting people and communities at that more fundamental level where music can engage all."
In Sri Lanka Darren, Davy, Jan & David will be working alongside music teachers from the Music Project in schools in Kurunegala and Mullativu whilst also linking with marching and brass bands in Lakdas. Later in March music teachers from Sri Lanka will come to Northern Ireland to visit some of the 12 schools currently involved in the project whilst also engaging in Music Unite special events.
The Music Project's Shalini Wickramasuriya said "The journey with Beyond Skin of addressing sectarianism and understanding social cohesion through schools and education has established a shared legacy, and we look forward to consolidating ties and ensuring a sustainable partnership for the benefit of the youth of today."
Parallel Versing project website: www.parallelversing.com
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