At the Open Hands Initiative, we believe in the power of art, music, writing, and dance in connecting people and creating a space for dialogue that transcends differences in language, religion, or politics. Our goal is to provide the tools and resources for artists to improve their craft and to help introduce these cultural treasures to audiences far and wide.
In recent programs, we have connected local artists with American counterparts to provide education, training, and mutual sharing of artistic techniques. We have also helped facilitate the production, distribution, and exchange of local art and music to expose American audiences to the richness of independent local artists and entertainers.
In future projects, we intend to translate, distribute, and promote the works of authors and poets from the developing world to the West, while supporting local literacy and educational programs.
Our Music Exchange Program took place in Damascus, Syria in 2010. Under the auspices of local partner ECHO Musical Cultural Association and American producer Brian Unger, the program provided an opportunity to connect American artists with local Syrian musicians and encourage the growth of Syria's budding music scene. The program provided training and the creation of new music, including its production and distribution, which can be heard on the "Songs of Syria" album.
The "Songs of Syria" album includes work by the following Syrian musicians who play both traditional Syrian and classical instruments: Fattet Laabet, Hewar Band, MAqam (led by violinist MAias Alyamani), Shafi Badreddin, Twais Quartet, Women's Takht. The hope is that our "Songs from Syria" can expose Americans to the rich and vibrant music of Syria and open up more pathways of engagement with the Syrian community.
The Open Hands Initiative sponsored six emerging photographers and photojournalists to take part in "Burma in Transition," a week-long photography workshop that took place in 2013 in Myanmar (Burma). The workshop was led by Canon Brand Ambassador and founder of VII Photo Agency Gary Knight and veteran war photographer Philip Blenkinsop. The program included hands-on training in the field, workshops, as well as one-on-one mentoring and critique.
Together with Newsweek & The Daily Beast, the Open Hands Initiative sponsored the South Asian Literary Prize for Commentary. This unique project provided an opportunity for one lucky fiction writer, Dilip D'Souza, from South Asia the chance to attend a one-month residency at the Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and write a biweekly column for a year on The Daily Beast. As a result, we helped expose American audiences to South Asia's emerging new writers.
We actively seek partners — individuals and organizations — from around the world in order to advance our common goals. Please contact us by mail, phone or email to find out more about getting involved.
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