Masamba in Review - 2022
In 2022, we at Masamba celebrated our 28th year in existence, with an almost full return to rehearsals and performances. Though there is still somewhat of a ‘COVID hangover’, it was great to be back in the rehearsal room, back delivering workshops and back playing gigs. In fact, 2022, was one of our busiest years ever in terms of workshops, with a total of 684 individual sessions being delivered with almost 10,000 people over the year. Gigs were also slightly up, with various lineups of Masamba players performing 28 times over the year. It is sad to say that so many of the large festival parades that were our stock in trade for so many years seem to have gone by the wayside, but we still managed to keep busy on the performance front.
Below is a breakdown of some of our main activities in 2022. They are not listed in order of importance but roughly grouped around themes.
We had a full year of rehearsals in 2022, though we are still feeling some of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we have a very positive team at the moment, and we have started to develop some new music, as well as getting all the old repertoire back up to performance standard. We are always open to new members and we plan to increase band numbers in 2023.
Masamba Youth Project
We have built the Youth Project back into a nice-sized group of 12 kids, almost all from the Liberties area. This version of the Youth Project did their first performance at the Christmas lights event in Cornmarket at the end of November.
Masamba Youth Summer Camp
We delivered a weeklong summer camp with young people at the Barbara Ward Centre in July. A smallish group, but very talented and very well received.
AfroBrasilÉire - DCC Local Live Event Mountjoy Square
This was an event funded by Dublin City Council Arts Office, as part of the Dublin City Local Live Performance Initiative. We collaborated with Criola Dance and Coisa D’Preto, 2 well known Brazilian acts, and received a lot of logistical support from Brian Mongey in the Central Area Community Office. The event had a small audience, but was very professionally run and enjoyed by all who attended. A link to a short video of the project is here: https://youtu.be/NIOUVbeDmeM
Rhythms and Rhymes of Resistance Seminar
This was an event we organised at the University of Limerick as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. The day was a mixture of presentations from academics based in Ireland and Brazil, as hands on workshops in music and dance. The event was attended by the Brazilian Ambassador to Ireland, HE Sr. Marçel Biato, and was hailed as a big success. Link to youtube of the event is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWNfwarcgYU&t=1609s
Dublin North East Inner City
NEIC Community Arts
We have been working closely with Irma Grothuis, the new NEIC Community Arts Coordinator and developed a series of projects with the following organisations.
· Vincent’s Infant school
· Foundations Project
· O’Connells school
· Ozanam House – Youth Group
· Belvedere Youth Club
· Laurence O’Tooles Primary School.
It was a great opportunity to work extensively in this area of Dublin, which though underserved in so many ways still retains the true Dublin character with so many talented musicians and dancers.
We developed a cardio drumming project for older people in the area, using percussion as a way to promote physical health and mental agility. As this is a new area for us, it took quite a bit of time to plan the sessions, source appropriate music, etc. However, the feedback was very good, and this might add a new string to our bow.
Simeon published an extended academic article in the International Journal of Community Music on the topic of how COVID-19 has affected our work. The article is entitled: ‘The Covid Carnival: Coping and recovering from the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic’, and can be purchased here: https://www.intellectbooks.com/international-journal-of-community-music
As we have been busy with workshops, there has been a lot of wear and tear on instruments. We replaced several broken skins, swapped out broken instruments and also had to buy some sticks and hand percussion, just to keep everything running smoothly.
We received two significant grants to purchase and repair instruments in 2022. The first was from the NEIC Community Fund, and the second from our long-time supported in the Music Network Music Capital Scheme. Despite the difficulties in sourcing instruments as a result of the pandemic, we managed to track down everything we needed, and it has made a huge difference to our day to day operations.
Separately, we were donated some used instruments by the Ballymun Regional Youth Resource, most of which will be very useful for our workshop projects. We are currently refurbishing the most suitable ones for inclusion in our workshop instrument bank.
Again this year, Simon Edmondson has invested a large amount of his time and skills into our web presence. The biggest single achievement has been streamlining our email accounts onto the same hosting service as our web domain, thus making life easier, and saving us money.
In addition, we added content to almost every page of the site, boosted our searchability on various web browsers and contributed several (though not enough) blog updates on the progress of the organisation.
Our positive relationship with St. James’s Primary School continued through 2022. We have been working in this school for over 10 years now, and ironically, Masamba personnel are there longer than many of the staff! We installed a semi-permanent PA system into the hall, and have submitted funding applications to have the heating improved.
We also carried out some minor works, including a re-organising of the shelving units, putting curtains up in front of the storage, and tidying up cabling, etc.
So, overall, 2022 was a year of re-establishing Masamba’s projects after the pandemic. It was a very busy year, with many achievements, but as always, we have lots of new projects planned for 2023 – watch this space!