Donate to the fundraiser here!
Oslo World is establishing a solidarity fund for Beirut's music life, in collaboration with Tunefork Studios in Beirut, Beirut & Beyond International Music Festival and Theater de La Ville in Paris. The fundraiser campaign was released Monday 14th of September and funds collected from this date until the 1st of November 2020 will strengthen the Lebanese music scene on 4 main pilars:
· Commissioned works
· Design and distribution of music
· Live performances in Lebanon
It took 15 years of civil war until 1990 to lay the city in ruins and it took 15 years to rebuild it. Over the years, the people of Beirut have had to endure war, terror, political incompetence and corruption. But the city has survived, as a vital cultural center in an area haunted by troubles, both from within and outside. The explosion in the city's port area on August 4 this year, which killed at least 190 people and left 300,000 people homeless, and which laid large parts of the city center in ruins, is perhaps the biggest challenge yet. The country is in the middle of a huge economic crisis, in a deep political crisis, and Covid-19 is making the reconstruction work following this tragic disaster an almost impossible task.
In many ways, it feels premature to talk about the city’s cultural scene right now. Aid, both emergency aid and long-term financial aid from other nations is needed. But in the longer run, Oslo World feels a special responsibility for the music of Beirut. In 2013, we co-founded the Beirut & Beyond International Music Festival. The festival was based on the cultural boom the area experienced in the wake of the Arab Spring. The goal was to shine a light on the cultural scene in Lebanon's capital. In recent years, the region has been hit hard by the war in Syria, the overwhelming refugee crisis and the general political and economic unrest. But Beirut has remained itself: vital, diverse, full of creativity. It is, and has always been, a place where innovative ideas and ancient urban culture meets. It hasn’t been easy - in 2015, in consultation with our Lebanese partners, we had to cancel that year's Beirut & Beyond festival due to unrest (terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad the same weekend) and the realization that we were not able to ensure the proper level of security during the festival. But there was never any doubt that the festival would continue. It felt too important.
And that has not changed since the beginning of August. It will take a long time for the city and its citizens to get back on its feet. It will still take time before the work can start at all for large parts of cultural life. But eventually the need for help will be there, and for Oslo World it is important to signalize clearly that we are there in the long run, for Beirut, in 2021, 2022, 2023 and so on. We want to make the stability and security we enjoy here in Norway as useful as possible for the city's cultural life in Lebanon. And as an institution who has operated in Beirut for almost ten years, we want to include international partnerships in this work.
Beirut will shape this year’s festival in many ways, through the crowdfunding campaign, talks, streams, video screenings and concerts.
This fund is aimed at creating activity on the city's music scene. In the time leading up to the festival (september – november 2020), and during the festival week, the audience will have the opportunity to contribute to this financial support through a crowdfunding campaign.
The fund is created in collaboration with Tunefork studios in Beirut, who have already started the Beirut Musicians Fund, Theater de La Ville – hosting a fundraiser event in Paris on October 4th and Beirut & Beyond International Music Festival. All the money raised will go in full to strengthen the city's music life.
To create activity, the fund has set itself four purposes:
Innovation: A committee consisting of local and international members will select musicians and producers to create. Beyond the premise that it is new material, these practitioners are completely free to create what they want.
Production: Part of the funds from the campaign will go to the production and studio recording of the music. Beirut & Beyond and Tunefork will create a list of sound technicians and studios based in Lebanon that artists can choose from to record and mix the work.
Distribution: In collaboration with labels and streaming platforms, the finished works will be released digitally, with a favorable share to the artists. In collaboration with Sacem, B&B will offer support to the artists to register to insure collecting copyrights and royalties . Local graphic designers and promotional workers will be hired to work on design and distribution.
Live performance: Part of the support will go to the venues, which have been without activity since February 2020. The plan is a concert program that starts in January 2021, and which books local artists.
The committee will consist of Racha Salah (cultural consultant), Tarek Yamani (composer and musician), Lara Khoury (Consultant MENA), Khyam Allami (artist and composer) and Alexandra Archetti Stølen (Festival Director, Oslo World) and Yasmine Hamdan (artist).
The newly established fund is not the only way Beirut will shape this year's Oslo World. The choice of solidarity as this year's theme for the festival makes it natural to pay extra attention to this culture - although physical visits are obviously not possible at the moment. Oslo World will not only ask for people's help in supporting the city's music scene. As cultural mediators, our job is first and foremost to show that the city's cultural life is something to love and care for. We will do this through a series of concerts, streams and video screens, as well as conversations.
Donate to the fundraiser here!