PLANO, Texas — Between Venezuela and Kenya lies 7,200 miles of land and sea. For the global grassroots charity In Place of War, this distance is symbolic of the 26 countries the organization supports. The distance also presents a challenge to the charity’s supporters who will attempt to traverse the distance during the Around the World in 80 Raves event “across the month of October.”
In Place of War
In Place of War effects change at a cultural level around the world as a charity dedicated to empowering local “change-makers” in the arts to aid struggling communities. These local artists create safe spaces for cultural expression in highly dangerous areas and find means to begin to change the cycles of conflict and violence which pervade them. Through artistic expression like music, the charity strives to pull people away from the violence that surrounds them and develop economically and culturally enriching opportunities in these otherwise struggling areas.
As the European Commission reports, cultural enrichment can positively affect many areas by promoting social inclusion and employment opportunities. In years past, the European Union has recognized the role that the creative and cultural industries play in economic development as well.
Bearing this in mind, it is no surprise that a strategy of developing economic and cultural enrichment opportunities in struggling areas has already brought In Place of War significant success, according to the organization’s recent impact report. The report looks at a variety of case studies to determine how In Place of War’s support has affected its “change-makers'” organizations from a cross-section of a number of different locations including Medellin, Colombia and Cape Town, South Africa.
In Place of War’s Work in Colombia
In Medellin, Colombia, In Place of War is supporting a hip hop collective, OldGuns. OldGuns works with local participants living in extreme poverty to offer a variety of artistic services and training backed by an urban farm and community kitchen. This program not only drives these participants away from the crime and gang violence that surrounds them but also gives them the basic necessities they need to allow them the ability to focus on their artistic expressions.
According to the report, In Place of War’s funding and expertise have been essential to the creation of the collective itself as well as the funding of the community kitchen. Thanks to In Place of War, the collective has also been able to gather increased support from other non-governmental organizations and local governments as well.
The success of the organization’s efforts shows the value that artistic and cultural work can have in areas suffering from high poverty. About 7% of Colombians live in extreme poverty with concerns over rising poverty rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, efforts by organizations like In Place of War should continue to prove valuable in the coming years.
The Situation in Cape Town’s Cape Flats
In Place of War also works to improve the lives of people in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town, South Africa. The area is known as an epicenter of violent gang conflicts, with 1,600 murders occurring in the first half of 2019 alone. Eventually, the South African government resorted to utilizing military intervention in an attempt to quell the spiraling gang violence.
According to The New York Times, experts note that such measures would not address the underlying issues which led to that immense violence. A recent study on youth gang involvement in the Cape Flats concludes that elements like high unemployment and poverty in the area make gangs an attractive option to those with little to no other opportunities. This is the very environment that In Place of War is working to change, in part by raising funds for a new project through Around the World in 80 Raves.
Place of War’s Work in Cape Town
The Around the World in 80 Raves event brings together leading, internationally renowned DJs to create a soundtrack for participants via 80 one-hour sets from artists like Jax Jones and Sofi Tukker. The sponsoring event encourages participants to walk, run, bike, swim or otherwise travel a portion of the symbolic 7,200 miles between Venezuela and Kenya.
The funds raised will go toward the development of a cultural music space in Sao Paulo, Brazil as well as a “dedicated music studio and performance space right in the heart of the community” in Lavender Hill, Cape Flats.
The support represents a continuation of In Place of War’s involvement in Lavender Hill, Cape Flats, which stretches back to 2004. According to the organization, “up to 100 volunteers assist with the day-to-day running of the Lavender Hill project,” working to help run a community kitchen and facilitate clothing donations as well as host live performances.
In line with a growing history of charitable work in Cape Flats, In Place of War says that funds raised from Around the World in 80 Raves will, “engage young people away from gangs and offer them a safe space to build positive futures.”
It is clear that the funds raised during Around the World in 80 Raves will make a significant impact in the lives of many, such as those in the Cape Flats area. In Place of War’s continued support will assist the Lavender Hill project in continuing to make a difference in the lives of young people. Support may potentially help the project secure crucial local recognition and remove bureaucratic hurdles in order for it to make an even greater impact in the community.
– Brett Grega