Behind The Scenes: Musical Network Brings Back Civil Community On Balkan

– If people can’t talk about anything else, they can always talk about music. Music unites people across cultural borders.

Michael Balle is the general secretary in the Danish Association for Rhythmic Amateur Musicians, Fajabefa. In the past years he has, together with a lot of other people, participated in building up a huge network on Balkan and between Denmark and Norway, which is being used in order to recreate a civil community in the devastated states, which earlier was Yugoslavia. Under the name, Wired, Fajabefa has together with local people and organizations on Balkan prepared the way for a musical exchange between several states on Balkan, Norway and Denmark. Semiprofessional bands from both Norway and Denmark and from different parts of the former Yugoslavia have been on special tours to each other’s countries. In April this year thirty musicians and people from different parts of the music business on Balkan will visit Denmark in order to learn more about how to improve and strengthen the musical organization in their homeland.

Wired was invented in 1998 by the musicians association “Copenhagen Live”, and in 1999 Fajabefa adopted the project. Since then Wired has been financially supported by the Danish Foreign Ministry's Peace and Stability Program for South Eastern Europe (FRESTA), under Danish Youth Council's (DUF's) Youth Programs in Balkan. Wired has also received economic support from, amongst others, NORAD and Roskildefonden. Wired has since the beginning continuously expanded the network to include more and more organizations and active individuals, as well as more cities, regions and countries.

Band Exchange Tours
One of the main activities in Wired has been the Band Exchange Projects. Until now six Danish and Norwegian bands have toured in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Yugoslavia, and Bosnian bands have toured in Denmark. During these tours local and regional bands have performed with the visiting bands. The overall format of the tours was planned by an international work group in Wired, and the individual concerts were arranged by the local organizations in the cities visited. On the tours sound technicians, light technicians and cultural project leaders were also present and involved.

For the rebuilding of the society on Balkan after years with destructive civil war and armed conflicts, the Wired project has been valuable for the future growth of the cultural life. The project has given lots of young people, who are interested in the musical and cultural development on Balkan, a new believe in the future.

In an article about the first Band Exchange tour in Bosnia, published on www.fajabefa.dk, a young 23-year-old Serb Petar is mentioned. He was, at that time, working as a guide on the tour, and he is one of the principal Bosnia forces in the Wired-project.

Petar does not believe in that the international community with the force of power will be able to re-establish a multiethnic society. He is of the opinion that the people it self in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in time, have to re-establish a multiethnic society. And that’s why Petar believes in the Wired-project:
– It’s about music, and it’s about peace. And that is some of the most important things in the world for me.

Crooked and Musical Stars
For Petar Wired has been a very important part of his life now, and he hopes that he can participate in building up a Bosnia counterpart to the Fajabefa – a countrywide network of musical unions, which can raise money, can help each other and will be able to cooperate about creating better conditions for the many young musicians in the country. The general secretary in Fajabefa, Michael Balle, know today, that Wired after just a few years have added a lot of cultural energy to the devastated country, but in proportion to the participating Scandinavian bands, they have got a unique possibility to experience how it is to work professional with live music.

– Even if we stopped the project today, it would be possible to find a local punk band and organize a tour around on Balkan, because the network, which is needed, is now established. – For the Danish and the Norwegian amateur bands, which have traveled on the Band Exchanges tours, it has been a huge challenge, because when you have to organize everything yourself on the tours to Balkan, very fast you get mature as a musician. And for those Scandinavian bands, which are a bit too crooked to get jobs at home, the performing on Balkan is their opportunity to become huge stars for a period, because the people in Bosnia are very open and interested in new music.

The last and most successful Wired tour took place in March 2001. Danish Latino acid-jazz band Astrud and Norwegian female punk band Bronco Busters played in Banja Luka, Prijedor, Mostar, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Beograd and Novi Sad. On their website, the members of the band Astrud, have written some words about their experienced:
“We were playing in the old nuclear bunker of the city Prijedor, which has been changed to a music place. Zoran, our local contact, told us after the concert, that we were the best thing that had happened to the city in many years. It seems like people are very hungry for new and different music. Now we are in Novi Sad, we are treated like kings. Today and the next six months three people will continue to work with the Wired project on Balka, financed with Danish money – among others things a special website about the whole project is being made by one of the people. Others are working as fundraisers in order to keep the project alive.

Read more about the Wired project on www.fajabefa.dk

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