Rhythmic vibrations, captivating performances and audience singalongs epitomised the first ever Homelands Tour as artists from refugee backgrounds came together in a musical collaboration to celebrate Refugee Week 2019.
Homelands stirred audiences at the annual Coffs Harbour Council Refugee Day celebration, Freedom Feast. (Photo: Jay Black)
Marking the first joint initiative of the newly-merged SSI and Access Community Services, the tour travelled over 1500 kilometres across Australia’s East Coast landing in seven different towns in Queensland and New South Wales.
“I’m thrilled that our first collaboration with Access was so successful,” said SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis. “By joining forces on Homelands, we leveraged the strengths of both organisations, resulting in better outcomes for clients, funding partners and stakeholders in both Queensland and New South Wales.”
From interactive song writing workshops at Loganlea TAFE to a scintillating live performance at Coffs Harbour’s sell-out culinary festival Freedom Feast, Homelands attracted huge audiences with over 2000 locals and people from newly arrived backgrounds coming together to take part in the celebrations.
CEO of Access Community Services Gail Ker OAM said the tour was important in strengthening community ties and fostering messages of inclusion, in addition to highlighting the artistic talent of many newcomers in Australia.
“Homelands was instrumental in providing a platform for many newcomers to continue using music as a form of storytelling and expression,” said Ms Ker.
“The talent and professionalism of the five Homelands artists was exceptional. Being able to produce over an hour of diverse and innovative music in less than 24 hours is only testament to this.”
The tour was the first major collaborative project between SSI and BEMAC and Ms Ker said she hoped that would signal the start of many more joint creative projects.
“This tour was the first of its kind and I hope we can do it again with SSI next year. Collaborating with SSI meant that we were able to broaden the scope of the tour, taking it all the way from Logan, QLD, down to Sydney, NSW.”
While the tour highlighted the power of two organisations combining, a large part of its success was down to the tireless efforts of the hosting partners in each local community.
“The tour would not have been possible without the help of our hosts in the local communities,” said Laura Luna-Zamora, Project Coordinator of SSI Arts & Culture. “They were essential in engaging the community to come along to each show, helping to create a cross-cultural dialogue and a warm and welcoming space for all who attended.”