Darren Ferguson, the CEO of Intercultural arts organisation, Beyond Skin, is in Colombia today (Tuesday, Oct 4) to talk about music’s role in social transformation.
Through the British Council, he will be attending a four-day conference in Bogota, discussing the transformation power of music in places of post-conflict.
Established in 2004, Beyond Skin is an organisation which uses music, arts and media to assist in the building and development of cultural relations in Northern Ireland, with the overall aim of addressing issues of racism and sectarianism.
With diverse team of artists using their skills for the greater good, the organisation believes that young people, regardless of their education, position in society or socio-economic status, have the ability to achieve great things.
Speaking about the visit, Darren said: “With the current situation in Colombia, it’s a wonderful opportunity to show how through music we can work together to achieve change. Beyond Skin works in a different way to other organisations and collaborates with a diversity of artists; ultimately aiming to change young peoples’ perspectives.
“We work with young people from a range of backgrounds – and the most important thing is giving them the chance to express themselves, even if it is a chance for them to voice any negative thoughts they may have. By providing a creative non-judgemental safe space, participants in our projects can process their thoughts through meeting people of different cultural backgrounds. This gives them a stronger identity as a global citizen and a greater understanding of people of difference race, religion and ethnicity.
“For us, the big focus is on the music – it’s the common language that glues us together, allowing us to connect as a community and learn along the way. Our current project Orchestre des Réfugiés et Amis supported by the Arts Council Northern Ireland for example, brings together musicians from all over the world who have come to Northern Ireland out of choice or chance and gives them a welcoming, safe place, among a family of musicians. This united voice can really help us to tackle issues of inequality, racism and address stereotypes and fears regarding refugees.
“I’m excited about the week ahead and look forward to coming back with new connections and ideas. I’d love to come home with new projects and it would be great to meet inspirational Colombian artists and find a way for us to collaborate in the future.”
The visit supports the British Council’s interest in arts and peace-building.
Speaking ahead of Darren’s departure, David Alderdiece, Director, British Council Northern Ireland, said:
“This is a momentous time for Colombia and we’re really proud to have identified this opportunity for Darren from Beyond Skin to share his experience and expertise around cultural diversity and good relations with organisations there. We hope this might be the beginning of a new partnership between our two countries.”
The British Council work with artists, bands and creatives from across the world. To find out more about the work we do visit http://nireland.britishcouncil.org