Sanaa Festival helping people find common ground
Victoria Lewis, founder of Sanaa Multi-Arts Festival platform, is on a mission to bring people together with the power of arts and culture.
The Adelaide festival is only two years old, but has made huge strides for talented local and international artists, creating “A better world through creativity”.
Delivering an exhibition, workshops, artist talk, collaborative street art murals and Sanaa Street Festival, the festival platform works with artists at the grassroots level from Africa as well as artists from multicultural and mainstream Australia.
In its first year of delivery in 2017, Sanaa Street Festival was awarded Most Outstanding event for Adelaide Fringe.
“It’s sometimes hard to understand another culture, especially if you haven’t had the opportunity to visit, and this can lead to misunderstandings between people and cultures, thus creating disrespect among individuals,” Victoria explained.
“People can come together with arts and culture, even if we see the world in a radically different way, and you then realise the similarities we do have as people then realise how many similarities we actually do have as people.”
Following the success of the 2018 festival, Sanaa raised enough funds to send two young Kenyan girls to school, both from Kibera, one of Africa’s largest informal settlements.
“Moving forward we will use our profits to support grassroots arts initiatives, with a focus in the African countries from which the artists we work with originate,” Victoria said.
“We will also place a strong emphasis on supporting grassroots initiatives for women and girls, as the arts can often be a male dominated industry, globally.”
South Australian poet, rapper and sonic activist who performs under the stage name of DyspOra, uses music and poetry to create further understanding and to share his story and works closely with Victoria.
This passion led him to found music label Playback808, an incubator for multicultural talent that DyspOra hopes will help take hip hop in Australia to a global scale.
Calling himself a “nomad”, DyspOra was born in South Sudan, lived in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp for seven years and moved to Australia at the age of ten. With family living around the world, DyspOra maintains his relationships with family as a means to stay rooted to his people, and when required, would offer financial assistance through remittances.
Being in a refugee camp, you don’t have access to things like music or the resources to make music.
“So, we support my family through the financial channels available because it’s a very small way of trying to uplift people from the poverty line,” he said.
DyspOra also hopes to give back by building a music studio in the refugee camp he grew up in, by partnering with not-for-profit initiative Barefoot to Boots, founded by African-Australian professional footballer Awer Mabil and his brother.
Just being able to give back and build bridges between people there and here, and reminding them they aren’t forgotten is so important.
The foundation provides football gear to some of the thousands living in the Kakuma Refugee Camp to improve their health and wellbeing.
DyspOra also recently became the ambassador for Timpir foundation and hopes to combine the power of art and education to influence and empower the next generation of world leaders.
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