Many of us will be pleased to see the back of the year 2020, which the COVID-19 pandemic has made into a very tough year for everyone, with people having to ‘socially distance’ from each other at a time when they desperately need to be together for care and support. As we draw the curtains on the year 2020, we mark the end of another difficult year of pain and suffering in Syria, where life remains difficult along with marked decline in the interest in the country and its people in the media and amongst the public at large.
At Rethink Rebuild Society, it has been our mission to keep Syria in the public consciousness, and we do that through in many ways. Arts and culture, however, have been one of our best ways of shining a light on a different aspect to Syria and the Syrian people which the media rarely highlight. Starting in 2017, Celebrating Syria Festival has become Rethink Rebuild Society’s major yearly event, showcasing Syrian talent and bringing people together to experience Syrian arts and culture at their finest. Rethink Rebuild Society won the Manchester Culture Award in the category of Equality and Diversity in 2019 as a testament to the great impact of the festival on this amazing city and its diverse culture.
This year’s festival, however, goes far beyond Manchester, thanks to the pandemic! This year we bring an international audience together where members of the public, from all over the world and from their own homes and on their own computer (or smartphone) screens, meet and interact with a number of Syrian artists, musicians, performers and other talented people over 7 days. As we welcome an international audience to this year’s festival, our eyes are on our people in Syria and it gives us great joy to know that they too will be able to enjoy their own arts and culture presented to them from three thousand miles away, from Manchester.
The theme of this year’s festival is 'Alone Together' and the virtual format of the festival means that people can still come together from their own homes to connect, share beautiful experiences and be together as they enjoy Syrian arts and culture. This year's festival will include an art exhibition, a collection of films, music gigs, a music and storytelling workshop for families and a stand-up comedy performance (yes, we can still laugh in 2020), to name a few.
This festival has been possible through generous funding from Arts Council England. Crowdfunding is still crucial, however, for us to ensure that all festival events remain free for everyone to enjoy. Please come together and support us to make the festival another great success.