Supporters include Cooking Vinyl chief Martin Goldschmidt, festival veteran Martin Elbourne, Benji Rogers founder of Pledge, Glastonbury co-organiser Nick Dewey, African Express Project co-founder Stephen Budd, Sound Diplomacy CEO Shain Shapiro & Ruth Daniel from creative industries development organisation In Place of War.
Some of British music’s top names have come together to lend their support to an ambitious new project aiming to highlight the best and brightest artists on Palestine’s vibrant music scene; the first ever Palestine Music Expo (PMX).
The live showcase, which will take place in different cities throughout Palestine in April 2017, has the wider aim of redressing the perception of the territory and raise awareness of its rich and diverse cultural heritage, and establish themselves on the international music scene. For this reason the three day expo will be aimed at promoters and press, as well as members of the public in both Palestine and Britain.
Rather than a stationary festival-type event, the showcase will take a form more similar to a mini tour, with participants taking in shows in Ramallah and Haifa on days one and two, before exploring Jerusalem and getting the chance to meet some of the artists and learn about the conditions for performers in Palestine.
PMX will mainly be produced and staffed by Palestinians with the local expertise to pull off large scale events smoothly, though it is partially the brainchild of Cooking Vinyl founder Martin Goldschmidt, who developed the idea for the showcase after seeing the lack of Palestinian representation at a music festival in Tel Aviv.
He met with Palestinian musicians and performers, including the likes of local producer and musician Abed Hathout and Mahmoud Jrere from the acclaimed rap group, DAM and their passion for music, and lack of opportunities afforded to them to develop internationally, inspired him to create PMX. Goldschmidt has enlisted the support of several other prominent industry figures in an effort to raise $195,000 (£150,000) to fully realise their vision for the event through an ambitious crowdfunding campaign.
Martin Goldschmidt said: “Starting out on this journey I have been thrilled by the interest, sympathy and broad based support for Palestinian musicians from artists and professionals, right across the industry.”
Others forming part of a special Advisory Board to support the project include Martin Elbourne, among other things a founder of The Great Escape and pioneer of Music Cities – an initiative to create a tailored ‘music policy’ for individual cities, who said of PMX: “All around the world music improves people’s lives and opens up opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be available, particularly in places scarred by war and poverty. It’s only right that Palestine and its artists, with such a rich cultural and musical heritage so often overshadowed by other events, have the same opportunities, and that’s what I think that is what PMX can do.”
His fellow board members include Benji Rogers, the founder of Pledge, Dr Shain Shapiro of music policy NGO Sound Diplomacy and Stephen Budd, co-founder of the African Express Project, who expanded on the wider role music can play in society: “During conflict, one of first human expressions to be limited is a people’s Artistic Culture. Its prominence in everyday society is relegated and the world is denied the positive messages that music and art delivers. PMX is being created to highlight and remind people of what music can do to re-inforce a message of hope and bring Palestinian culture into wider consciousness by supporting some damn good music.”
PMX will also be partnered by In Place of War – which aims to develop the creative industries in communities marginalised by the effects of war. Ruth Daniel from In Place of War said: “In Place of War is proud to partner and support the Palestinian Music Expo. In Place of War recognises the power that music can have to transform opportunities for people in places of conflict.
We are supporting the development of the first music studio in Nablus and providing training and development in music production with experienced music producers from the UK including Flood. The promotion of music from Palestine through a new export office is an important move to help share Palestine culture and great music with the world.”
Asked about possible opportunities for those featured in the showcase to perform in the UK Glastonbury co-organiser Nick Dewey was enthusiastic: “This is a great idea and an important step in the right direction. As a festival we are looking forward to experiencing all of the fantastic music and culture that is there to be explored and bring some of this to Glastonbury soon!”