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Iraq: Art Action for Peace, Project Update

Posted on: Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Keywords: Economic Justice, Peace Building, Combating Violence Against Women, Iraq, Middle East

Hundreds of people gather for the Summer Festival - © OWFIArt Action for Peace, a MADRE and OWFI project, extended its efforts to unite Iraqi youth through poetry, music, and other art forms. Since late June 2008, young poets have organized one major community event and continued to hold small weekly gatherings that brought together youths committed to promoting peace in Iraq.

On July 5, while Baghdad enjoyed a period of relative calm, Art Action for Peace organized a Summer Festival in Al Zawra' Central Park. The festival brought together nearly 1,400 people over the course of the day from all areas of the city. The event was particularly popular with young people from the volatile area of Sadr City, as they are prohibited from playing music or holding instruments within their district.

The festival included musical performances and readings by young women and men advocating peace and women’s rights. Among the poets reading at the Summer Festival were Rasha Riyadh, a young woman organizing women at a fine arts college, and Muhannad Al Shammary, an Art Action for Peace organizer who spoke about youth organizing around arts and music and working toward freedom and equality within Iraq. The festival also featured respected musicians from throughout Baghdad.

Rasha Riyadh reading a poem - © OWFIFuad from Sadr City enjoying the opportunity to play in public - © OWFI


Attendees at the Summer Festival - © OWFI

In addition to the Summer Festival, Art Action for Peace continued to hold regular gatherings of 20 to 30 young artists each week, enabling them to develop their art and strengthen their commitment to peace. Since July, MADRE and OWFI staff have also provided technical and moral support to Art Action for Peace youth organizers to create a new umbrella organization which will include all existing and developing Art Action groups: poetry, music, theater, writing, and sports. Finally, we provided training to outreach program officers who are planning to extend the reach of Art Action for Peace to cities in central, southern and western Iraq.  
Several Art Action for Peace youth organizers and OWFI staff members - © OWFI

Art Action for Peace participants - © OWFISupport from ArtVenture was critical in implementing all of these activities, as well as providing safe transportation to weekly events and transporting staff and youth organizers to the Summer Festival. It was also used for staff salaries, ongoing trainings, the purchase of used musical equipment, an amplifier and decorations for the Summer Festival, refreshments for all gatherings, and emergency medical care for youth organizers and staff who were attacked while sharing information about Art Action for Peace.



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