We have been working on bringing the business and creative time together for a couple of months now. To take on a challenge this big we need a whole lot of people, talented people, that can become a dynamic and professional team.
The night before the workshop Finola, Dee and myself welcomed our overseas guests, Shoshi, Remko and Susana with a visit to the 3 Arena and an opening night performance of the 25th Anniversary of Riverdance. The packed auditorium was blown away by an amazing and passionate performance of one of the great dance musicals of all time. Is it possible that we could bring our own musical project What About Us anywhere close to this high standard? For now, we will have to dream, very big dreams for sure.
The Club, in University College Dublin (UCD), hosted our 7th February event. We have brought 18 people together to plan out how we can progress our project. They include musicians, composers, choreographers, videographers, other artistic people and a group of business colleagues I have worked with in the past and trust.
Enrico Molinaro, founder of Mediterranean Perspectives, joined the workshop online from Rome via skype. Enrico has significant experience of Israeli / Palestinian relationships and has brought high level delegations together, working on solutions to practical problems the communities face.
We are all agreed on our ambitious strategic goals:
- To produce a musical, film and book that can positively impact society and promote peace over war.
- To provide a platform that enables young people to speak up for our planet, humanity & human rights, allowing them to challenge the current political and business leaders on major societal issues such as climate change and war.
- The musical to be of the highest quality and entertainment value to tour Internationally and spread the positive messaging of What about Us.
- The documentary will show how young people can overcome prejudices & hate and demonstrate the capacity to work and socialize with people from opposing cultures and religious backgrounds, whose countries are perhaps at war.
- The book to detail the journey of the project and the participants from the current day through to the launch of the musical.
“What About Us” will be a live stage musical delivering a unique & strong message that expresses the desire for a change in this decisive moment in human history. It will be performed by an orchestra, musicians, choir, singers and dancers; talented young people who have been affected by war, discrimination, terror and perhaps forced to leave their home and may still be living in refugee camps. The participants, young talented artists, have a crucial part of its creation and evolution. They will be supported by a professional creative team.
Many of the challenges and potential pitfalls were discussed. The key ones include finding talent, creating a coherent story & music, political interference and of course funding. A discussion on the next workshop scheduled for June in Jerusalem highlighted so many hurdles, not least the challenge of bringing Palestinian musicians from the camps/territories to play in Jerusalem with Israelis. There are both political and safety issues.
It is not realistic to think that a team of volunteers can take on a project this big. We need resources and we need funding. In the short term the team have all agreed to work without pay on the basis of earning shares in the company (we are in the process of setting up) or getting paid when we secure funding. These are significant personal risks everyone is taking and its very admirable.
A big issue we are addressing up front is the original content that will be developed by the creative team (song, lyrics, dance etc.). What About Us needs to own the content while at the same time protecting and remunerating the artists. Eddie Evans a partner with Beauchamps, Solicitors spoke about the proposed solution and is drafting contracts for the participants.
Shoshi Israeli has taken on the challenge of finding young local talent in Israel and Palestine for the upcoming workshop in Jerusalem and already has secured over 30 applicants. Hopefully the broader team and a social media campaign will help us find other talented musicians & composers from Ireland and elsewhere
Aaron Wilkinson, based in Toronto, is selecting musicians and composers to participate on Bandlab; an online platform where the participants can collaborate together, creating music and song. Aaron’s demo of the platform was impressive and gave everyone a big lift, a sense that what we were trying to achieve might just be possible.
Julie Hamilton introduced the marketing strategy, brand attributes and logo. Her passion, positivity and ambition mirrored how everyone was feeling:
Dream Big, everything is possible.
More to follow.