The Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) in Armenia announced a call for proposals for small projects in the field of contemporary arts. The purpose was "to issue funding for creative and innovative projects, which contribute to the development of contemporary arts in the Republic of Armenia, in the aftermath of the twofold crisis of the 2020 War and the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed projects shall address current socio-cultural and socio-economic issues faced by the Armenian population in the midst of regional instability, as artistic contributions to a public debate on Armenia’s immediate future. The SCO believes that artists after the twofold crisis have a valuable role in speaking up for culture, in championing the place of culture, and in helping people make sense of their experiences through creativity and collective encounters of shared experience." Our Resilience Hubs project was among 5 selected for funding out of 60 applications. Bravo to all those who support this project and to us for being selected! Read about this on the Swiss Embassy website...
The Resilience Hubs project provides an important, unique, and often the only extra-curricular activity for the children we serve at no cost to their families. Headed by the best-trained musicians in the region, and monitored by the professional musicians on our board, the children of the region reap the benefits of music and are given a wonderfully attainable goal of preparing for a Grand Christmas Resilience Concert with their peers in the region.
The “AKNA” Cultural Society Non-Governmental Organization will be hosting this program of the Atken Armenian Foundation as a full partner. This organization led by renowned musician Levon Eskenian has done perhaps the most substantial work in making Armenian folk music visible to an international audience through the Gurdjieff Ensemble, an ensemble that performs in the best halls of Europe on a regular basis. We are extremely grateful to them for their support in making music live in the regions of Armenia. The Syunik Development NGO, with whom we started this project in 2021, will continue helping us with the Yegheknadzor Choir by providing space at Gitelik University.
The project rationales included that:
- There were over 1500 displaced individuals who had found semi-permanent or permanent refuge in the Vayots Dzor region. UNDP had classified these individuals as ''People in refugee-like situation.''
- The Vayots Dzor region is one of the poorest regions of Armenia resulting in a high number of socially vulnerable children.
- Music and dance are known cultural stimulants that help overcome trauma-related challenges in children.
- Music and dance are excellent tools to build community and mutual understanding, particularly after trauma inflicting war and pandemic-associated social isolation.
The children will now have a new narrative and renewed hope after feeling completely let down during the war situation in the region by the apparent apathy of an international community occupied with COVID-19. The Grand Christmas Resilience Concert will celebrate the return to life, bring a sense of empowerment, and build community resilience.
There are 8 Resilience Hubs in the Vayots Dzor region open free of charge to children aged 7 to 15. Each hub is comprised of a children’s choir. They are located in Yegheknadzor, Malishka, Areni, Yelpin, Chiva, Khachik, Aghnjadzor, and Karaklukh. Private voice lessons are also given to the lead singers in the choirs. Each community benefits from the knowledge that their children are receiving care and quality music education from communities and individuals in faraway lands.
The objective of this project, which encompasses the 6-month period of this Grant, will be to prepare each choir with the same repertoire for a celebratory concert in the capital of the region, Yegheknadzor. Bringing them all together for the second time to sing and dance will be an immensely positive experience for the children and their communities and will be noted at the national level through our pre-concert PR efforts. Such a concert will also help us continue creating an atmosphere of musical excellence in the region and will inspire others to emulate our project. Finally, the positive effects of making, doing, music will enhance the quality of life of the children and their families and have a lifelong positive impact on their sense of self-value. The knowledge gained through the mastering of choral songs will add a unique and rare layer to the cultural fabric of the population in these more remote regions.
The Choir Director that we have hired for this project is the top musician in the region, Ms. Maro Simonyan. We have worked with her for the past decade on several projects when she was the Director of the Culture Centre in Yegheknadzor, and more recently the Interim-Director of the Yegheknadzor Music School. She is now completely devoted to our Resilience Hubs project. The local villages, schools, and NGOs provide space for our practices free of charge. In the last few weeks, we have already commenced preparation for the Grand Christmas Resilience Concert slated for January 2023. Each choir will be visited weekly for 1.5 hours of practice by the choir director and pianist.
The funding provided covers about half of the costs, therefore donations are always welcome and desperately needed. Contact us to make your donation, or simply donate here...
The Resilience Hubs met at Noravank this summer for a first experience singing together