We are so thrilled to announce that London's exclusive dance studio Inspiration 2 Dance has just announced that they'll be dedicating their upcoming fundraiser SUMMER SIZZLE Dance & BBQ Party 2017 next June 24 in London to Sandblast. THANK YOU!!
Our connection with Inspiration 2 Dance comes from our Founding Director Danielle Smith, who's really passionate about dancing and has had a close relationship with the school since late 2015.
Sandblast has decided to pledge all funds raised through the SUMMER SIZZLE Dance to the music and English education project Stave House in the Sahara, which has just finished their very successful second stage with over 25 children passing their certified Stave House Level 1 Music Awards. Congratulations! During its third stage (Sep 2017-May 2018), Sandblast will be the main sponsor of the project, so we need all the help we can get to make it a reality! For that, we've just set up a new JustGiving fundraising campaign. Check it out!
Our partner project Stave House in the Sahara has just finished its second stage with a fabulous End Of Year Party in which the children have performed a few songs and had some sweet treats to celebrate a very successful year. Over 25 students have recently passed their Stave House Level 1 Music Awards, which will be fully certified by the London College of Music (University of West London) through Stave House. Congratulations!! How exciting!
Sandblast is now in conversation with Stave House in the Sahara to provide sponsorship for their third stage, which will begin in September 2017. Stay tuned for updates!
Greetings from Sandblast,
Hope you have had an enjoyable summer and feel recharged again to enjoy the active months ahead. We are now back in action and in this issue will highlight exciting news and developments since our Mid-summer Western Sahara Festival, in July, along with upcoming events which you shouldn’t miss.
Standing Man EP now available!
We are thrilled to announce that the Standing Man EP, recorded in the camps by singer-songwriter Pia de Keyser, is finally ready to be heard by the world.
Standing Man refers to the Moroccan soldiers that have been standing on the 2700km-long military wall in Western Sahara for 30 years. It was recorded at the Studio-Live equipped studio of the Saharawi National Music School by our very own Studio-Live-trained sound engineers. Read more.
Stave House in the Sahara back to the refugee camps
We are very excited that our colleague Violeta Ruano will be returning to the Saharawi refugee camps for 3 months in October for the second stage of the early music education project Stave House in the Sahara. There is still time to become a sponsor of one of the children for only £30. Interested?
Sandblast is delighted to be one of the main partners of this project. We are deeply grateful to Ruth Travers from Stave House for generously donating the programme to the camps and to The London College of Music which has supported the project in various ways. These partnerships along with some amazing support we've received from individual donors has made it possible for things to happen and develop. We're also thrilled to announce that Oxfam Solidarité (Belgium) have recently given €2500 to refurbish a room to create a music-making space for children, in the camp of Boujdour, in support of Stave House in the Sahara. Read more
Fundraising and Run the Sahara
2016 has been spectacular fundraising year for Sandblast. In total, we have raised nearly £30,000 for our project work in the Saharawi refugee camps. This has been thanks to the amazing efforts of our 2016 Run the Sahara runners and also to the generosity of donors who have shown support for our projects in the camps, which currently are:
Saharawi Artivism Fund (SAF), Studio-Live Local and Stave House in the Sahara.
We now have a nice group of runners coming together for the 2017 Run the Sahara race in the Algerian Sahara next February. We hope to recruit at least 5 more people to join before the registration deadline on December 15. Please help us spread the word!. And if you are a former particpant, we would love you to encourage others to join us in 2017.
Donations and Van hunting
This year has also been a great year for music equipment donations made in support of Studio-Live Local. We got a mint-shaped 24-track Tascam mobile recording studio in July and in early September a lovely electric guitar from David in Yorkshire.
Our next big mission is to get all the donations of the past 18 months transported in a donated or second-hand van, down to the camps, by the end of this year. If anyone loves these kinds of ventures and would like to help us please get in touch. We really need it!
Olive Branch Arts Cabaret Extravaganza on Sept 18
Come along for this fun night of fund-raising for their work with youth, women and theatre in the Saharawi refugee camps. Click here to book tickets
Music of Exile film teaser
Have you heard of the upcoming film Music of Exile from the Saharawi of Western Sahara? Directed and recorded by Katch Holmes it will be featured at WOMEX '16 in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) next Oct 21. Click on the pic to watch a short teaser and get inspired by the revolutionary history of Saharawi music!
We are thrilled that the fabulous Standing Man track by Pia de Keyser, done in collaboration with Saharawi artists in the camps, is finally ready to be heard by the world.
You can now listen to a 30 second teaser of the track below. The Standing Man track has been kindly donated to Sandblast by Pia, to help us with our on-going fundraising efforts for Studio-Live.
If you would like to download the the entire 6-minute-long song, we ask that you please make a donation for it, so we can support locally-run recording studios to become up and running in two of the Saharawi refugee camps in Boujdour and Smara in the next 12 months. These studios will be run entirely by our Studio-Live-trained sound engineers. Hurray! We don't want to tell you how much to donate; that will be for you to decide. What we are sure of is you will love what you hear!
Please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org after you've made the donation and we'll send you the full track.
The story of the Standing Man recording:
Composed and sung by the super-talented Pia de Keyser, this song refers to the Moroccan soldiers that have been standing on the 2700km-long military wall in Western Sahara for over 30 years. It was recorded in the refugee camps in February 2015 by local sound engineer trainee, Shaia Wali, at the Saharawi National Music School in a Studio-Live equipped studio. Shaia was trained over a year period in a Studio-Live programme of sound-recording workshops delivered by the tireless and dedicated Sara McGuinness, who teaches at the London College of Music. Shaia was assisted by Rasha Shaheen, a music teacher visiting the camps for the first time, who also participated in Run the Sahara in 2015. See below the wonderfully quirky fast-paced video she did of the week-long recording session with Pia.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, 6 June 2016
Mid-summer Western Sahara Festival: Film premiers, music, poetry and talks highlight long-term Saharawi refugee plight in SW Algeria.
London, 2 July 2016, 4-10pm
A Sandblast production in collaboration with Stave House & Hundred Years Gallery
On July 2nd, London-based arts and human rights charity Sandblast will join forces with acclaimed UK music academy StaveHouse for a multi-arts mid-summer Western Sahara Festival. The event will highlight the on-going 40-year-long plight of the Saharawi refugees in the Algeria Sahara and present recent efforts to bring early music-learning to the area. The charity will also launch Run the Sahara 2017, known internationally as the Saharamarathon, which takes place annually in February. UK participants raise funds for Sandblast’s music and youth projects in the refugee camps. The majority of the Saharawis became displaced in harsh desert camps, in SW Algeria, after Morocco forcefully annexed their homeland of Western Sahara in 1975. The territory, a former Spanish colony, is officially recognized by the UN as Africa’s last colony.
Eye-opening film premiers, photography, music and poetry will offer something for every taste in Hoxton’s hipster Hundred Years Gallery. A presentation of the Stave House in the Sahara pilot project will be made by ethnomusicologist Dr. Violeta Ruano. She leads the project to implement music education in English in the Saharawi primary schools in the refugee camps and is working in close collaboration with Ruth Travers, the creator of the Stave House music-learning system based on storytelling. The Run the Sahara 2017 launch will feature testimonials from former participants. Potential candidates will be able to register on the day to either run or walk 5, 10, 21 or 42km and spend a week hosted by a local family in the refugee camps, experiencing the legendary hospitality and stories of the Saharawi people.
Unforgettable mentally and physically. I would recommend this journey to anyone as it changes your point of view. Tomasz Laczny, 2015 runner
The English premiers of “Battalion to my Beat” by Eimi Imanashi, and “The Desert of the Deserts” by Samir Abujambra’s will provide potent contexts to understand the Saharawi struggle. The former, a short fictional film tells the story of a young Saharawi girl who wants to become a revolutionary soldier and the latter is a fascinating, original account of Saharawi culture and the history of the conflict in Western Sahara. The evening will conclude with a collaborative performance of two artists who have both been to the Saharawi refugee camps. Poet Sam Berkson will recite original poems and translated Saharawi poems from his poetry book “Settled Wanderers” accompanied by darbouka player Karim Delalli playing irresistible Algerian beats.
For info & tickets, please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mid-summer-western-sahara-festival-tickets-25595518886
Hundred Years Gallery, E2 8JD, London. Contact: 02036027973
Dear friends and supporters,
Much has happened since the start of 2016. In this late spring edition of our newsletter we are thrilled to share an update of new projects we're supporting and the launch of both SAF and Run the Sahara 2017.
Launch of Saharawi Artivism Fund (SAF)
Sandblast director Danielle recently returned from the Saharawi refugee camps where she worked in close partnership with SCAP Campaign, a local grassroots group, to launch SAF (Saharawi Artivism Fund). Aimed at Saharawi civil society, SAF seeks to support projects that are volunteer-based to encourage activism and community engagement in the camps, especially among the youth. SCAP are a youth-led movement created in 2015 to protest the illegal exploitation of Western Sahara's natural resources. Together we selected the first 5 volunteer-based initiatives to get funding through SAF in 2016:
This year's Run the Sahara has been an incredible success! A group of 15 Sandblast runners from the UK and the US travelled with the Sandblast Team to the Saharawi refugee camps last February 20th to participate in the Sahara Marathon (Feb 23rd). Together, they had been fundraising as a team for over 6 months, raising the incredible amount of £14,063.37.
Visit our Run the Sahara 2016 Team Page to see for yourself!
This money will be used to reconstruct some cultural buildings destroyed during last year's floods, and to fund our exciting new project, the Saharawi Artivism Fund. Stay tuned for updates!
Curious to know about our trip to the Saharawi refugee camps? One of our runners, Beccy Allen, has just published her experiences on the World Travel Guide. Read here!
UPDATE (Mar 6): You can also have a peek at the Sahara Marathon official website, where they have just published a summary of this year's marathon week with some amazing stories!
Winter is definitely coming! Or at least in London... brrr! And we hear that in the Saharawi refugee camps the cold has also arrived, so our thoughts are with all the families still in the process of rebuilding their houses after the devastating floods last month.
To take the cold away, today we bring you lots of exciting news!
We are over the moon to announce that our Fundraising Campaign for the Saharawi Flood Crisis reached the fabulous amount of £4000. This has already been sent to the Saharawi Red Crescent. Thank you!!
We are excited to announce a series of events we're organising this autumn to commemorate the 40 years of the Saharawi struggle for self-determination in collaboration with various collectives and two vibrant London venues, Bolivar Hall (Venezuelan embassy) and Hundred Years Gallery.
Through photography, film, music and much more, Africa's Last Colony - 40 Years Not Forgotten aims to remember the most important events that have shaped the history of the conflict inWestern Sahara, as well as to showcase the valuable role of UK-based artists in raising awareness about this underreported issue.
News about Sandblast & Western Sahara