The arts make our individual lives better and build stronger and more cohesive communities. Through the arts, we see ourselves and our worlds reflected, and gain insights into the lives of our neighbours near and far. Two in three Australians believe that the arts impact our understanding of other people and cultures and help us connect to others. Australians increasingly recognise the important contribution of the arts to our wellbeing and happiness, and ability to express ourselves and develop new ideas.
Akolkol Group Image
Akolkol Dastan Gesa is a community arts and cultural development (CACD) project that enables young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to be leaders in telling their own stories. Akolkol Dastan Gesa means ‘story’ in three of the many languages spoken by participants: Dinka, Dari and Arabic.
Between May 2017 and April 2018, Akolkol Dastan Gesa engaged 40 young people between the ages of 12 and 29 to work with a team of professional artists to create a music video called SAME DRUM. The young people participated in song writing, beat-making, recording, dance, performance, filming and screening.
An independent evaluation of the SAME DRUM project showed it was extremely effective in achieving its goal of empowering the young people, finding a range of positive impacts. More than 80% of participants identified ‘relationship building’ as the most positive experience followed by ‘belonging’, ‘culture exchange’ and ‘self-expression’. Pre and post-surveys to identify impacts on mental health demonstrated positive trends in feeling ‘closer to others’, feeling ‘more useful’, feeling ‘more relaxed’, and feeling ‘more optimistic’. Student engagement was ranked highly by the facilitating artists who noticed positive changes in students’ confidence, self-esteem and relationships, as well as technical skills.
The music video launched on ABC during Harmony Week 2018 and was screened at film festivals across the country. The young artists also had their work broadcast on radio and online and were invited to perform at a 20,000-person festival. The song won Song of the Year in the World category at the West Australian Music Awards – a testament to the group’s song writing talent. The CACD sector is a leader in the use of the arts to support social inclusion and cohesion, enabling diverse voices to be heard and stories to be shared through great art.
Akolkol Dastan Gesa is produced and directed by Poppy van Oorde-Grainger, supported by project partners Beyond Empathy, Aranmore Catholic College, DADAA and Community Arts Network and was supported in 2017–18 through an Australia Council project grant.
Learn more about Creating Our Future: Results of the National Arts Participation Survey.