“Peace Drum”: A School of Arts Approach to Peacebuilding

“Peace Drum”A School of Arts Approaches to Peacebuilding

Why “Peace Drum?” History and current experience shows that so deep are the pains of most of the conflicts experienced in the global south that the popular individualized, reductionist and rationalistic approaches to healing and transformation simply lack the language and resources to solidly address the challenge of holistic peaceful transformation. “Arts approaches” provide an accessible language, compelling processes that affirm everyone’s creativity and, above all, an inclusive space that enables healing, genuine dialogue and transformation to happen particularly where the violent conflicts and pains are experienced by masses of people. In the spirit of “Ubuntu” and inspired by the indigenous African motif of the “drum,” Peace Drum  will “drum up” a most significant call to artistes-peacebuilders and peoples in the global south to take greater leadership in intentionally and imaginatively transforming ideologies of violence and, above all, (re)constructing a narrative of justpeace. In this quest, Peace Drum will provide a rich, inclusive and challenging forum for reflective practitioners to celebrate their creative richness; critically and deeply engage; dream and act jointly in producing alternative cultural products and in shaping new narratives of justpeace. Hosted by Ubuntu Arts, Peace Drum will bring together 20 committed artistes-peacebuilders – including educators, development workers, community animators and cultural activists – from the global south who continue to apply various shades of arts approaches in their social change work. The 2-week intensive program of applied training, performances, exhibitions, and direct skills-building experience will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, between September 17 and 28, 2007.  A select number of the participants will be awarded partial scholarships to attend the school. However, all participants will cover their return travel either to Jomo Kenyatta International airport or Nairobi city. Please email your applications to the Coordinator, Peace Drum, at ubuntuarts@gmail.com by 10 August 2007. 

The Paths  Before the sun sets, “Peace Drum” envisions that, together, we shall:  ·         enhance our understanding, through applied training and incisive reflection, on the nexus between the arts and peacebuilding/peace education·         offer a critical challenge to existing assumptions and values in peace theory and practice ·         draw upon various artistic traditions and explore several artistic forms for individual and group reflection·         undertake comprehensive documentation – in print and electronic media – of the unique experiences and lessons in contemporary arts approaches to peace work;·         develop a reader including writings by the trainers and participants on arts approaches, as well as collection of cultural resources (music, video, film, literature, etc.)·         strengthen existing initiatives on arts approaches to peacebuilding through support structures and sharing of resources·         build a solid platform for a movement of artistes, cultural workers and peace workers who can initiate, develop and implement collaborative programs on arts approaches·         develop performance pieces and other cultural products as resources for peacebuilding/peace education      

Facilitators The facilitation team will comprise select members of Ubuntu Arts as well experienced artiste-peacebuilders from other parts of the global south. A full list of facilitators will be announced by the end of August 2007.  Babu Ayindo from Kenya, who has extensive experience in applying “arts approaches” to peacebuilding in the various parts of the world will function as lead facilitator while Dessa Quesada-Palm from the Ph
will serve as Consultant Advisor of the Peace Drum on curriculum design and development and  program evaluation.  

Course Outline Week One: (17 – 22, September 2007) Theme: Indigenous Arts, Forum Theater and Community Based Peace Education Indigenous Arts and Philosophy of PeaceStorytelling, Dance and Peace Visual Arts, Ritual and HealingIndigenous Arts and Forum Theater  Week 2: 24 – 28, September 2007 Theme: Integrated Arts Approaches in Healing, Dialogue and Transformation  Integrating Indigenous Arts, Playback Theater and Forum Theater Integrated Arts, Advocacy and DialogueDesigning and Facilitating Community Based Arts and Peace programs 

Ubuntu Arts Peace Drum is an initiative of Ubuntu Arts, a team of artistes keen to share their talents and committed to creative transformation. The spirit of their art is tapped from the enduring wisdom of the Zulu nation: umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu translated as “a person is a person through other persons.” Ubuntu Arts follows the paths of artistes of African descent who have transformed and sustained life through innovating ways designed to retain balance and harmony amongst peoples and all creation. In light of contemporary challenges, Ubuntu Arts affirms the role and responsibility of all humans as creative makers of culture; therefore, Ubuntu Arts endeavors to evolve a (re)humanizing aesthetic that stretches imagination and deepens dialogues in confronting new questions, new challenges. Ubuntu Arts’ programs intentionally build on peoples and community’s indigenous resources and reflective capacity in the envisioning, self-education and social action.   

Ubuntu Arts Team Paschal Wafula (Coordinator);Babu Ayindo (Artistic Director);Carol Okello (Office Manager);Philomena Waithira; Alfred Kibunja; Rispa Were; Wilfred Kioko and Oliver Mbayi ___________________________________ Ubuntu ArtsPO Box 13695 GPO00100 NairobiKENYAubuntuarts@gmail.com


CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) will hold its Third Annual ARTS IN THE ONE WORLD conference on the CalArts campus in Valencia, California. 

Arts in the One World: Curricula and Agenda A drawing together of schools and institutions offering degree/training in politically purposed art, broadly defined… And the definitions as they are emerging are innately broad – art and justice, art and social issues, art in the community, performance and public policy. Essentially – how are we trying reposition art’s starting point, its aim, it’s situation in culture at large, and – how is this exploration entering education? What are the emerging changes to curricula? Discussion expands to include practical examples of artists who are enacting this repositioning. A sub-theme: social networking. How are artists finding other artists? Making communities of audiences and vise versa? The third annual Arts in the One World Conference will take place on the Campus of the California Institute of the Arts,January 24-27, 2008 The conference is hosted by the theater school, is conceived and executed in collaboration with the broad participation of the Institute as a whole, invites students and faculty from institutions around the world, and is open to the general public. Our partner in hosting and building the event is the Interdisciplinary Genocide Study Center (Rwanda), our sister library in Kigali – where the Tutsi genocide is researched, testimony is gathered, negationism is resisted, and a social space for survivors is afforded. 

The Arts in the One World gathering is the local anchor of an ongoing artistic exchange CalArts conducts with the Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center in Rwanda. Each summer a group of students, faculty, and professionals in the field travel to study the genocide and explore the ways in which art practice may participate in the processes of recovery.


Keynote Performance: Jeans Generation, by the Belarus Free Theater


The Belarus Free Theatre and its audience were recently arrested – up to 60 spectators, the actors, managers, and directors of the Free Theatre (including three children of 6, 7, and 8). On August 22, members of three different special forces operations (OMON, KGB, and the district police) entered a rented facility where the Free Theatre was set to perform.

 This act of harassment and intimidation in connection to the Belarus Free Theatre and its friends is just regular attempt in a row of many cases of harassment like dismissals of actors, directors, sending down of theatre manager, closing down clubs where Free Theatre performed, etc. According to the Geneva Convention, it is ‘Prohibition of Profession.’“The Belarus Free Theatre wants to assure that we will not stop our activities and we would continue to promote human values by means of theatre.

“We appeal to all our friends to support freedom of Expression and Assembly in Belarus.”



Natalia Koliada – Director and co-founder of the Belarus Free Theatre
Nikolai Khalezin – Art-director and co-founder of the Belarus Free Theatre, playwright
Vladimir Scherban – Belarus Free Theatre Director



Conference Organizer – Heather Lawson hlawson@calarts.edu