For Syria, from Glasgow – Arts and Music can help
Featured Image: Jenny Tsilivakou / The New Normal
A local cultural showcase for a global cause
‘For Syria’, a non-profitable event aiming to raise funds for the war-stricken country, took place on Thursday 17th of February at the Poetry Club Glasgow in SWG3, an events space in the West of the city. Poets, bands and DJs collaborated for this charitable cause.
Outside the venue, tucked beside an adjoining railway bridge, enthusiastic attendees arrived to a myriad of laughter and loud chatter amplified by the hollow archway overhead. Warehouses are traditionally unremarkable, vast, and with an air of uniformity. However, in this case, brightly coloured lights contrasted the dull gloom that filled the entrance hall.
Stepping inside the biggest room, a band rehearsed on stage. Sat on the floor, two of the organizers meticulously ensured that the sound system was working to full capacity.
Denise Bonetti, an Italian poet who is studying English Literature, rushed up from the floor and proudly presented herself as one of those responsible for the event. Twenty one year-old Charlie Scrimgeour cracked a smile when asked how ‘For Syria’ was born.
“It was Christmas day and I was with my sister. We were talking about Aleppo, how things there were so bad and how we were feeling so impotent. We then decided to start fundraising to help Syria. She is going to do it back in London and I’m organising it here.”
After developing the concept of the pop-up, Scrimgeour gathered with Bonetti and friends from Glasgow University, and began to pitch ideas together. The inclusion of poetry at the event arose as a result of Bonetti’s passion for the art. She also opted to perform that night.
They aimed to strive towards an artistic night with a humanitarian purpose.
Aside from Bonetti, 3 other poets performed. Alice Seville travelled all the way from Birmingham. “It is the first time that I’m reciting for a charity of this kind,” she said. “I did poetry at a fundraiser before but never for such a big cause. I would do it again if needed to.”
The Ediots, The Bellybuttons and The Spicy Guys were 3 of the bands chosen from a prior audition process. “We just talked with musicians and everybody wanted to do it. In this kind of situation, people just come together,” Bonetti said.
The location reflected the events principles perfectly: SWG3 (Studio Warehouse Glasgow) is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary arts space created in 2005 and has already offered their event space over 120 artists, hosting numerous fundraising projects. Bonetti enthusiastically added, “They are great and so helpful, you should write about them!”
High on the venue’s internal wall that adjoins the railway bridge, a model train protruded from the brickwork as a striking tribute to SWG3’s location. A strikingly large green screen in the background was laden with symbolic images of Arabic culture. The audience sat, listening intently on the floor, as they absorbed each poet’s narrative of torment, indignation and sadness, empathising with what each performer conveyed.
Lelya Josephine was the sole performer who elaborated on Syrian issues. Reciting a poem about a little girl in a refugee camp, she espoused a compassion and understanding for the refugee’s situation. Josephine had participated in a volunteering project in Greece, adding a certain poignancy to her words. The end of the poem concluded with an analogy of a bird’s death, with the little girl ‘flying away’. With her, we left that refugee camp.
Once the sombre poetry had ended, the event transitioned to a significantly happier note. A spirited and scantily dressed band took to the stage; their silly and carefree performance immediately won over the audience. Meanwhile, at the entrance, Scrimgeour was counting the proceeds. “It is not a Syrian thematic night, but it is ‘For Syria’”.
Human Care Syria, awarded the best New NGO in 2013, helps to build educational and medicinal infrastructures in Syria and received all the revenue collected from the event. Each ticket bought provides emergency shelters, milk and food parcels for refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
By raising money through music and poetry, the event made best use of Glasgow’s local cultural talent.
Having been nominated for the European City of Culture in 1990, combined with an additional accolade of UNESCO City of Music and appointed to its Creative Cities Network, Glasgow is a good place to begin connecting culture with humanitarian causes.
As we all know, People Make Glasgow is not just another slogan.