We are currently working to establish and maintain sustainable creative labs for street children and other vulnerable youths in Cambodia, Haiti, Myanmar and the Middle East to form a global community of young music and film producers.
Based on the success of the permanent DJ schools from our Turntables in the Camps programme, we now work with a range of other partners to establish permanent Turntable Labs for local youths in Port-au-Prince, Phnom Penh, Cairo, Benghazi, and Tunis. The Turntable Labs are meant as hubs for creativity in different forms. First off with music and video production as the core elements.
Turntables in the Camps
“Turntables in the Camps” was our first programme focused on the inclusion of young refugees in the global youth culture of DJ-ing and the creation of electronic music. To facilitate this, we arrange workshops and set up permanent local dj schools for refugee boys and girls in order to show that everybody can be a DJ or an MC no matter where they are from.
Currently we have permanent DJ schools in connected to the camps of Sabra/Shatila, Mar Elias and Burj Barajneh in Beirut, Nahr el-Bared near Tripoli, and the Jabal el-Hussein camp in Amman. These schools are all driven by local NGOs and volunteers.
Voice of the Streets
“Voice of the Streets” are our concerts and festivals. They show the importance of the voice of the street, and remind everyone that the struggle for freedom of expression and peace in many of the countries in the world is far from over.
The first event under the “Voice of the Streets” tag took place in Cairo in November, 2011 in spite of a military crackdown on the festival. The Voice of the Streets brought together political dissidents rappers from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan in order to remind the world that the struggle for freedom of artistic expression and speech in the Middle East has just begun. It was presented by Turning Tables, the regional Immortal Entertainment and sponsored by Danish Center for Culture and Development (DCCD).
The Second event was curating a major festival on Artistic Activism in corporation with the IMAGES Festival in Copenhagen September 2013. Here Turning Tables brought activist rappers and street artists from Cambodia, Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Tunisia to Denmark to exhibit how youth in conflict prone countries around the world use music and art to push back oppression.
The Third event was L’angar Festival l in Tunisia December 2013 where Turning Tables and the Tunisian activist radio Asso Chaabi organized the biggest hip hop and electronica event ever in the Middle East and North-Africa. The line-up was packed with young political conscious artists from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Morocco, Denmark and Algeria that was invited to spit fire and brimstone in the struggle for regional freedom of expression.
Turning Tables works to empower socially, politically and economically marginalized youth in developing countries by providing them with the means to express their grievances, hopes and dreams in music and film. We build creative environments through inspiration, learning and transfer of technology that enable artistic self-expression in spaces where this would otherwise have been thought impossible.
Turning Tables’ programs are providing marginalized youth with a platform to voice their travesties and visions of a better tomorrow in a non-violent manner. Thus we create both individual empowerment and collective awareness rising and change on community, national and international level. Our unique approach where we tap into using music as a universal language for youth communication has proven itself to be very effective in areas where simply reaching out to marginalized youth is often wrought with obstacles and dangers. This approach has granted us access to even the most critical, vulnerable and oppressed youth who traditionally shuns aid workers and has served to soften tensions in conflict prone communities.
Turning Tables is an official partner with UNDP HQ for global promotion of the new Sustainable Development Goals and have current projects with UNICEF, ILO, UNFPA, Oxfam, Action Aid, The Danish Foreign Ministry, and a number of local NGO’s in our program countries.
Since 2009, we have pursued this vision in some of the World’s most troubled places, building a unique network of local artists and training locals to carry on our projects once we are gone. We have set up music labs for marginalized refugee and IDP youth in Lebanon (700 trained), Jordan (750 trained) and Syria (50 trained), and a music program for street youth and child prostitutes in Cambodia (550 trained). Our most recent projects includes setting up two music and video production facilities for marginalized youth in Tunisia (550 trained, 10 music videos), Myanmar (950 trained, 30 music videos and 18 documentaries) and Kenya (350 trained 10 documentaries 4 music videos). We have further organized festivals for freedom of speech involving socially conscious artists in Cairo (2011), Benghazi (2012), Amman (2012), Copenhagen 2014, Tunis 2014 and Yangon 2015. We are currently setting up new Turning Tables Labs for activists, slum youth and refugees in border regions between Uganda and Kenya (2016) and in Denmark (2016).
Based on 5 years of success, we believe that we have now found a truly efficient and operational concept in the Turntable Lab. The Turntable Lab is a music and film production facility launched by sending in an experienced team of award winning international filmmakers, music producers and studio engineers to a selected location for two weeks. We bring the equipment, build the studio and train four local music and film instructors to become caretakers of the lab. The local crew is then left with a trained coordinator, a six-month development plan including training manuals and a one-to-one mentor program.
After six months, the international team returns to do follow up trainings and develop a new action plan based on the local context. The local coordinator remains in contact with the director of Turning Tables ensuring that the development plan is implemented and local and international partnerships are established in order to attain economic self-sustainability (70% self-generated funding) within a two-year period. This concept has proven itself extremely successful in Myanmar, where a fully operational lab is up and running and is currently well on its way towards self-sustainability through local partnerships with Oxfam, UNICEF, DANIDA and Action Aid.
Our overall objective goal is to transform Turning Tables into the leading organization for empowering and giving voice to marginalized youth worldwide through music and film production. In order to do this we are looking for long term strategic partners that share our belief that music can be a powerful tool for supporting social movements and generating sustainable social change by empowering people to become the change they want to see in the world.
This will be pursued by sustaining our existing programs while establishing at least 4 new labs in South-East Asia, Africa and The Middle East within the next two years. The expected outcome of this phase will be to strengthen our existing methodology in order to make the concept scalable and thus universally applicable. The next phase will then be to accelerate growth by setting up a global network of economically and organizationally self-sustainable Turntable Labs that share their products and experiences across geographical, social and political boundaries.
Turning Tables is a registered non-profit organization in Denmark and Sweden.