Beyond Skin founder and CEO Darren Ferguson has been invited by WOMEX, the most important international professional market of world music, to chair a conference at this year’s 21st anniversary event to be held in Budapest, which will mark the first time an Eastern European city will organize the famous festival and host well-known artists and rising stars of the world’s music scene.
This year WOMEX is expected to host over 2,400 delegates, 1,470 companies, 950 promoters, 450 labels, publishers and distributors, 400 governmental, educational and other institutions, 500 booking agents, 400 managers and 250 producers and 200 national and international journalists – all from over 90 countries. The event also will host a bustling Trade Fair with over 600 exhibiting companies from across the world.
Due to the work of Beyond Skin locally and abroad with partner organisations, Darren has chosen the conference theme “Music bridging communities in post conflict environments” also looking at “Partnerships that brings the best out in people.”
Darren commented on how this is an opportunity to highlight the arts in Northern Ireland. “I am delighted to be given this opportunity to present clear examples to the world of how community based music projects in Northern Ireland driven by the wealth of skilled artists we have as a society has enabled positive outcomes and outputs that transcend politics, economic challenges and social divides.
“To have with me my colleagues from the WOMAD Foundation & The Music Project is real pleasure as the work we do is all about collaborating with partners who share the passion & vision to see positive change and are willing to take the risks.
“As popular music culture becomes more generic and struggles to produce role models for children & young people, it has been my experience with Beyond Skin, WOMAD and The Music Project that the diversity, authenticity and fusions in world, roots and folk music has been the enabler of real positive change and amplifies the true sound of the planet. Where better to share this experience than at WOMEX”
Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said, “Darren’s organisation, Beyond Skin, is one of the main driving forces here behind interculturalism and the promotion of cultural diversity and good relations through the arts. Their work is pioneering, developing the use of music and the arts to help people find positive ways to express their identities and bring our distinctive communities closer together. This is a wonderful opportunity to share Beyond Skin’s achievements tackling racism and sectarianism in Northern Ireland and beyond with the wider international delegation.”
Beyond Skin established in 2004 are currently one of the biggest employers and trainers of inter-cultural artists on the Isle delivering on average 250 workshops/events a year, also representing Ireland on an international level through the United Network of Young Peacebuilders.