Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cultural Production Center in Southern Sudan

The M.A. Program in Cultural Production is developing a partnership with the planned Jonglei State Cultural Production Center in Bor town, Jonglei state, Southern Sudan. The Center is directed by Cultural Production graduate student Atem Aleu, who is an accomplished visual artist and cultural performer

The Cultural Production Center in Bor will be devoted to celebrating, supporting and documenting the rich cultures of the Southern Sudan, with a special emphasis on the regions of Jonglei State. The Center seeks to train a new generation of artists, musicians, writers and dramatists committed to the artistic and cultural vitality of New Sudan. The Center will encourage traditional and modern arts, including painting, poetry, music, song, dance, video-making and digital arts. Their first goal is to build a physical Center for the Arts and Culture in Bor town. Their training and cultural enrichment programs will be open to young men and women from 16 to 30 years old. Most of their instruction will be in English. Atem plans to return to Bor in Summer 2009 to hold more community arts worskhops and plan for the construction of the Center.

We are exploring the possibility of graduate students in the Cultural Production Master's program at Brandeis undertaking practicums and internships at the new Center, working with young people in traditional and pop music, Hip Hop, video production, creative writing, creative non-fiction, choreography, digital arts, and community-building. Atem is eager to train local young people to be cultural interpreters, archivists, and documenters of the dynamic cultural scene in the region.

In the meantime, we are working closely with Atem as he develops his overall conception of the Center and its programming. I'm especially fascinated by Atem's commitment to bringing together former adversaries, across lines of ethnicity and religion, to work together to develop the artistic and cultural resources of the region.

The photograph above shows Atem's student Samuel Ajok applying primer to a painting, in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya in 2005. Samuel is currently living in Bor, Sudan.

Those interested in efforts by the "Lost Boys" to do reconstruction and development work in Sudan should be sure to see (and support) Jen Marlowe's remarkable, nearly completed film, "Rebuilding Hope."

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