“What compels me to fight this society is, of course, outrage over injustice, a love of freedom, and a feeling of responsibility for perpetuating and enlarging the human spirit - its beauty, creativity, and latent capacity to improve the world. I do not care to come to terms with an irrational society that corrodes all that is valuable in humanity, that eats away at all that is beautiful and noble in the human experience.” - Murray Bookchin Our first venture to Calais was done with the aims of delivering instruments that had been donated from people all over the UK and of being a fact-finding mission to see how best we could provide support to the music and musicians in the Jungle camp.
We successfully delivered many musical instruments, including a piano to the school run by Alpha; an accordion to a musician from Kuwait; several violins given to violinists from Iran and some left in the Library; lots of children’s instruments given to children in the families field; two djembe, an electro-acoustic guitar and a small amp given to Sudanese musicians; guitars, drums and ukes were left with the library and the Good Chance Calais.
On most mornings we went to the One Spirit Ashram Kitchen, which does an amazing job of feeding people. We would bring instruments and play until musicians who lived in the camp stepped in and treated everyone to some amazing performances of Iranian, Kurdish and Iraqi music. Here we made friendships with many musicians and heard how censorship and oppression of culture had been defining factors for many in leaving their homelands.
We also spent a lot of time in the Good Chance Theatre, where we found a project that shares our ideas about culture and creativity; it is an amazing space to have in a situation like that of Calais. It provides a truly unified space, which is accessed by people from all the cultural backgrounds represented in the camp. It is welcoming, inclusive and built not on sand, but on solidarity. On our final afternoon, the Good Chance hosted MAB and the musicians we had met throughout the week for a gig and it was a truly joyous event. We are hoping very much to collaborate further with the Good Chance so watch this space. It was our decision very early on not to visually document MAB’s time in Calais. Instead we made field recordings of the music we encountered and interviewed musicians we met, to create an aural record of the importance music has to people during migration. To hear our field recordings visit: https://soundcloud.com/user-640137335
Without doubt the trip achieved many things and we saw that music comforts, empowers and unifies people even in the horrendous situations faced by all those who live in the jungle. We will continue our work and plan to return in December, this time