The team behind the highly successful Oasis One World Choir, a musical project for refugees, asylum seekers and the wider community that runs out of the Oasis Centre in Cardiff, is to launch a Community Interest Company (CIC) to lead the choir into an exciting new era.
A CIC is a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are reinvested in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit.
Project Manager Tracy Pallant, facilitator Laura Bradshaw and choreographer June Campbell-Davies have formed the new entity to ensure a sustainable future for the project, which they describe as “a lifeline” for many refugees and asylum seekers.
The project was previously run under the banner of community arts charity Tanio, which will continue to work with the project team to support them in the transition.
Tracy Pallant devised the project in 2015, recognising the power of music and singing to provide comfort, community and purpose to displaced people from around the globe. Since then the choir has gone from strength to strength.
“The Oasis One World Choir is an ever-changing group because people are regularly moved to different parts of the UK suddenly. We are lucky to have a very supportive network of singing and musical volunteers who help to ensure that new people are quickly and easily able to learn new songs and the ethos of the choir. These volunteers come from both the local Cardiff community as well as from the refugee and asylum-seeking community.
“The resulting chemistry of the wonderful people from around the globe making music together, as well as the many barriers that the project seems to break down along the way demonstrate how special this project is. It has positively and powerfully influenced perceptions of society, music, the purpose of music-making and art.
“The feedback we get is that the choir is a real lifeline for many people who are faced with restarting their lives in a new country, often in a language that is completely new to them. The language of music transcends these barriers, and our choir allows people to make new friends, feel valued and build their confidence at what is often a terrifying time for them.”
Facilitator Laura Bradshaw explained that lockdown presented a real and immediate challenge to the choir:
“We knew that we wanted to carry on allowing people to sing together, so we switched to practicing online. This presented challenges, as not everybody has access to a device or the internet, so one of our immediate priorities will be to secure funding for devices so that we can keep people connected to what is often the only social contact they enjoy.
“On the other hand, switching to online lessons has meant that many people who have been moved on from Cardiff – some for the fifth or sixth time since they arrived in the UK – can dial in. It means they can continue to be part of our choir, giving them valuable social interaction and a sense of being part of a community. We now want to ensure that that opportunity is available to many refugees and asylum seekers as possible until we can meet in person and sing together again.”
Commenting on the new CIC that will take over the administration and running of the project, Tanio Chief Executive Lisa Davies said:
“We are so proud of what the team have built with the Oasis One World Choir, which they have developed into a recognisable brand and a thriving, life-enhancing group that has performed at events all over Wales.
“We wish the team the best of luck as they embark on a new chapter and look forward to supporting them as they enter this exciting new era.”
The Oasis One World Choir was recently handpicked by the Music as A Global Resource (MAGR) organisation to feature in a handbook of projects contributing to social, health and economic issues. The MAGR compendium was produced to mark the 75thanniversary of the United Nations.
For more information on the Oasis One World Choir, or to volunteer, donate or collaborate, please contact [email protected].