For two weeks in July 2013, I had the privilege of taking part in an incredible project in Aruba – ART RULES ARUBA, the brainchild of twin sisters Ayra and Ira Kip. Over 200 young people took part in this Summer Arts project. There were 9 disciplines: Street Art, Dance, Rap & Poetry, DJing, Fashion, Music & Performance, Theatre, Creative Media and Culinary Arts. I worked alongside one of Aruba’s leading poets, Rosabelle Illes to lead the Rap and Poetry workshops.
Students learnt about the origins of Hip Hop, what an MC is, how to write haiku poems, short stories, monologues, rap lyrics and improved their performance skills. Rosabelle had arranged an open mic session at a beautiful restaurant/bar, Cuba’s cooking where some of our students got to perform in front of a live audience for the first time too. One of the beautiful things I saw, was the hunger we all had to learn from each other. I even ended up learning a few words and phrases in Papiamento: “Mi ta contento, pa ta kin am” (meaning “I’m happy to be here”.) As for the participants, they were a delightful bunch and open to learning and developing their skills, I fell in love with them all. Shout out to Fresh out the Oven and the Prikichi loco crews. At the end of the two weeks we held a festival for the young people to showcase what they’d learnt. It was also a chance for parents to come and witness the brilliant work of the young people. We saw shy and introverted children blossom and come out of their shell. Excellent writers get even better and surprise themselves. Some found their voice, some found a new appreciation for their mother-tongue. It was truly an amazing experience and a reminder of the importance of art and the incredible benefits it has for us all.
For me it was also very rewarding to see the Hip Hop work I do in the UK translate so well in Aruba. The Fresh Prince of Zamunda was definitely in the house!
Being around all the other incredible art practitioners was also an empowering and enriching experience. To them I say thanks for sharing your passion and for your friendship. I look froward to meeting up with you in the future whether in London, Holland, Japan, NY, Canada, Baltimore or Aruba. A big thank you to the sponsors and to the Pancake Gallery for inviting me. Art Rules Aruba most definitely, till the next time.