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Mostafa Betaree (squatting), is surrounded by members of the Spotlight team. © Spotlight

9 September 2020

Music, dance and art: creative artists show solidarity through work during COVID-19

“When The World Pauses, Music And Dance Continue” – is the slogan and name of the campaign launched by former UN Human Rights Minority Fellow Mostafa Betaree and his colleagues from the Netherlands-based NGO Spotlight Team International Art (STIA), to promote solidarity during the pandemic.

The campaign is supported by the informal network of UN Human Rights Minority Fellows and encourages artists from different communities to celebrate solidarity and human connection through art.

Mostafa, who was a Fellow in 2018, is a third generation Palestinian refugee, born in the Yarmouk camp in Syria. After leaving Syria in 2016, he moved to the Netherlands, where he has, for the first time in his life, a passport. He explains more about the music and solidarity initiative.

“During my first year in the Netherlands, while I was in a refugee camp, I founded a group called Spotlight in order to create a space for humanitarian art. Spotlight, which is under the auspices of a Dutch youth NGO, lets people express their feelings through artistic thought.

At the start of the year when things went well, the outbreak of corona virus surrounded the world. I saw a world that lost joy at that moment. No matter how difficult it is, people love to interact with each other. But in the time of the pandemic, we faced many difficult times in our homes, our colleagues in the organization are still living in the camps of asylum, and others being deported in the difficult time of COVID-19. We are no longer busy anymore, and our habits and actions stopped suddenly, but we know that we cannot stop it because creativity never ends.

In that moment, my team and I thought, we needed to bring some joy and hope in life during the pandemic. At that moment we just announced "When the world pauses, the music and dance will continue!" This became our slogan and the name of the initiative, which we launched in light of another initiative we had started at the beginning of the year called Applause for Humanity. Yes, we were applauding before everyone else in the world!

Music and art are a universal language

“The reason I used art and music as tools was to simplify (things). Instead of explaining the human rights issue or the refugee issue seriously, we like to show these challenges with music and dance. The audience’s reactions are more affirming and accurate because when they watch a show, they put themselves in that moment and live that moment.

Music and the arts are just a way to show off the colour of our soul. We may come across someone who does not like art, but rather music. Music is the best way for humanity to become aware of cultures and traditions and bring us closer to one another. Sometimes just one song can bring two different people together.

Planting hope via music and dance

Many people around the world are now taking part in the campaign. Each video presents different cultural and traditional backgrounds around the world and this brings us closer and in touch with each other. Solidarity is taking shape more clearly and this gives us more encouragement for tomorrow.

We have planted hope in dance, music, arts and applause in a wide network of these different societies and have proven that no matter how different we are, we can be positive and effective.

There is simply no more important time than now. If we are not able to touch each other or meet, then we cannot hear each other, cannot see each other’s talents, and cannot think about each other’s issues.

It has become clear how weak we are human beings after the outbreak of COVID and how much we need each other and to cultivate love between us through our creativeness means that guarantee us permanency and enjoyment despite all circumstances.”

View some of the videos produced by former UN Minority Fellows as part of the Spotlight initiative on our Your Engagement page. Or see more of the art and music created to promote solidarity as part of Spotlight’s initiative on their website and social media pages

Disclaimer: The views, information and opinions expressed in this article are those of the persons featured in the story and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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