Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival is a charitable institution that has operated for around 50 years. In partnership with Edinburgh College, the Festival launched a series of mobility experiences for creative young people in Scotland.
The festival ran several mobilities; including a visit for a mixed group of disabled and able-bodied learners visiting Cape Town to take part in a dance festival and taking a female group to visit a carnival band based in the Brazilian city of Salvador. Other countries visited as part of the mobility programme included Costa Rica and an upcoming trip to Cuba.
The Brazilian visit focused on exploring the work of Banda Dida, a woman’s percussion band based in the city of Salvador. Alongside music, the wider cultural organisation created by the band has developed a focus on promoting gender equality and preventing domestic violence through dance, music and the arts.
Through these musical workshops the beneficiary was able to deliver training and performance opportunities for young learners including dancers, musicians, videographers and a photographer.
“I’ve always believed that mobility is probably one of the most important aspects of creative sector individual development. Having a learning experience in a different place and then being able to contextualize that within your own learning is a real privilege, and something which is often undervalued,” said Giles Agis, Carnival & Community Manager at Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival.
“Due to the pandemic a lot of our younger learners feel anxious about travel. They have also become more isolated with a narrowed outlook. The majority faced economic challenges. We also had learners with early-stage mental health issues, depression, and anxiety who saw improvements following the experience.”
Student experiences of the Turing Scheme
Talking about her own experience, learner Meggy Viana said: “As a performer I believe that I’m constantly learning. Having the incredible opportunity to experience first-hand a different culture is such a privilege. My first experience was amazing, a chance to go all the way to Brazil to learn how to play the African-Brazilian drums for the carnival.
“I spoke the language, ate the food, and danced like a local. Brazil helped me so much, to develop my performance skills, and even as a person.”
Student filmmaker Olga Michalik was equally enthusiastic when discussing her experience. “As a student filmmaker, it gave me unforgettable memories that I never dreamed of. Meeting amazing, talented people and getting to know a different culture.
“Taking part in the carnival performance and being able to film it showed me a different kind of work as a filmmaker. Taking part in this project has had a huge impact on my life as an artist, but also personally. I gained self-confidence and motivation to set goals and do what I love in life, but also gratitude for everything I have already gained.”
“It is really important to secure opportunities for emerging Scottish creatives, and the Turing Scheme has helped make this possible,” Mr Agis concluded.
The visit to Cuba will take place in the upcoming weeks.
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