JIVE-TOWN is a story about music and people, about culture and how it moves around, always reconfiguring and sprouting in the most unexpected ways and places. Melbourne, Australia, as a hotbed of African music?
Melbourne is widely-acknowledged as one of the best live-music cities in the world. Rock, punk, hip hop, folk, alternative, heavy-metal, dance. These are all genres that have come to Melbourne over the decades and entertained and inspired many.
But Melbourne is now experiencing something entirely new - the dawn of the African music scene in Australia. Emerging musicians such as Lamine Sonko, Ajak Kwai and the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra are shining brightly. They may be little known outside some circles, but the impact of their vibrant music is growing and spreading around Australia and the world. Artists like the Sydney based Sampa the Great are joining this new, exciting musical movement. And established singers in Africa are sitting up and taking note.
JIVE-TOWN is a story about migration and community too, told through the eyes and songs of five African musicians/performers - mainly based in Melbourne. They live and work in the inner suburbs of Sunshine, Fitzroy and Footscray where life is challenging and music a panacea for the pain that comes with searching for belonging in a new world and negotiating life across two cultures.
The proposed story addresses questions including why and how the characters left their homeland/s; their personal, national and musical roots; and why the move to Australia and in particular Melbourne. Was it just a bureaucratic anomaly? How have they adjusted to this new society? Is Australia a racist country? What role does music play in retaining a sense of identity, building a new community and connecting with this new environment? How do they deal with the mixture of repressed hate and smothering love that follow them around?
JIVE-TOWN will find its heart and meaning, its denouement and climax in the joy of African music, and the music’s ability to cut across all the boundaries and spread its joy to the wider community.
Until recently, African music was understood in Australia only in the very limited terms of star artists who toured here in the 60’s and 70’s like Miriam Makeba and Abdullah Ibrahim (nee Dollar Brand) – and then in the 80’s, Sweet Honey in the Rock and the Bhundu Boys. But since the rise of hip-hop, with its samples from African music as well as American funk and German electronica, the grooves of the myriad genres that add up to the totality of African music make a lot more sense to Australian ears.
JIVE-TOWN captures artists in the act of creation. It will be an entertaining, inclusive history of African creatives in Melbourne.
JIVE-TOWN profiles contemporary Australian Africans artists from a mix of refugee and newly-arrived backgrounds. This group face significant challenges to full participation in Australian community life and as such, are often recognized as a priority group amongst philanthropic foundations nationally. Our project aims to inspire Australian audiences to see the true value of these artists and their contribution to multicultural Australia. An intimate glimpse of each artist’s journey serves to open the minds of audience participants’ as they break-through barriers within society and systems to share their art and stories – and make their own unique contribution to social inclusivity in this country.
Our project highlights issues around the economic capabilities of CaLD communities - a key focus of the philanthropic sector. Foundations are aware this cohort commonly suffer a disrupted education and have minimal exposure to information that would help them navigate our employment systems to prosper through paid work. This can quickly translate to economic disadvantage. 33% of African and Middle Eastern migrants residing here remain unemployed. Projects and programs promoting equity and access to support full employment and social inclusion for CaLD communities are many, however few seek to engage wider community in a real two-way exchange that encourages self-reflection about our own role in multiculturalism and willingness to embrace another culture. Our education and outreach strategy aims to engage all tiers of community in fresh, new dialogue and thinking around the story of migrants arriving here and explore potential solutions. Panel discussions (post-screening) targeting funders, governments and corporates will explore alternative funding models for the arts and new paradigms around multiculturalism that, ironically, look to Australia’s past migration schemes for solutions.
As experienced story-tellers, Spontaneous Films acknowledges the importance of providing opportunities for emerging filmmakers where coaching and mentoring is a core part of our values in action.
Aims & Objectives
Our aim is to achieve outcomes with different tiers of community. This will be achieved by documentary screenings and follow-up panel discussions/performances or learning tools used within the education system/broader audiences via our education and outreach strategy. The three main outcomes we wish to achieve include:
Outcome 1: Highlight the experience of African migrants and refugees•To give a voice to key characters from African nations and elevate and encourage stories, experiences and representation for the broader African diaspora•Bring contemporary art practice to new audiences that may not have experienced musicians and artists from culturally diverse backgrounds•Create interest in future participation in music and artistic events of African artistsImpact will be measured via:•Audience participation numbers per segment of the population•Number of events nationally•Number of schools engaged•Number of learning tools utilised
Outcome 2: Increase awareness of Australia’s response to recent arrivals and shift perceptions of multiculturalism and our role in social inclusion and harmony within community.We will gauge awareness and perception-shift via a short survey tool to be completed by attendees, post documentary screening/panel/music performances. The survey will use a five-point Likert scale to measure changes in attitude, mood, sense of wellbeing and the value of arts and multiculturalism.We will additionally measure:•Number of event registrations (participants)•Changes in perception via surveys
Outcome 3: Create action by informing broader community of artists challenges and potential solutions. We will use a mix of survey results and follow up post-event actions to measure impact.Post-event surveys will ask participants questions which explore interest in collaboration to new approaches, alternative funding models, and willingness to raise awareness by hosting an event, as a call to action.We will additionally measure action via:•Number of corporates, government agencies, and funding organisations attending events•Number of participants planning follow-up actions to support future documentary screening or partnerships to further multicultural/arts within Australia.
Our outreach strategy aims to invite and engage the whole-of-community in conversations that shift perceptions and move people towards action to effect wider system change. Documentary screenings will also speak to the important and somewhat undervalued role both social justice and the arts play in bringing about learning and social inclusion.
We aim to create social impact and a platform for cultural by targeting three key cohorts:
1.Young people/students via the secondary school curriculum2.Broader mainstream audiences 3.Corporates, funding bodies and tiers of governmentSecondary school students
We aim to develop a study guide or teacher’s notes that can be used within a classroom setting. The online tool will also be available to extend our projects reach into regional and rural schools with limited opportunities to participate directly.We will target schools and communities located in both cities and regional/rural areas– prioritizing towns experiencing challenges with the inclusion of the African community such as Shepparton, Mildura and Traralgon in Victoria, with other regions to be identified.
Our learning resource will be developed via consultation with teaching staff and departmental representatives to align content with the secondary school curriculum. We will leverage our existing partnership with Optimistic Arts Projects, who have links with a range of multicultural performances that impact on thousands of school Victoria children each year, as a framework for building new links to education nationally.Our learning tool will incorporate documentary viewing with questions that link with curriculum subjects such as Civics and Citizenship, Politics and Society, and Cross Cultural Studies.
The documentary will be used to generate ideas and viewpoints that reflect/ challenge the values of individual groups, explore understanding of the world, and compare individuals and groups from historical or cultural contexts, in developmentally appropriate year-levels. Mainstream audiences will view the documentary and participate in follow-up panel discussions with the artists. Artists may also hold performances to enrich the audiences’ experiences of culture within music/ the arts. Corporates, funding bodies and tiers of government can use the documentary and subsequent panel discussions as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility objectives, while the Philanthropic sector can benefit from the exploration of more catalytic approaches to creating societal impact. A mix of artists and social enterprises using new business models in the arts will sit on the panel. A mix of traditional media channels and social media will be used to engage audiences and increase participation. These will include but not limited to: public and community media, Facebook, twitter, Instagram and YouTube.