Current Issue #488

Nexus Arts aims for creative cohesion

Nexus Arts aims for creative cohesion

Nexus Arts continues its multicultural march with Creative Cohesion, a program designed to ensure that Adelaide’s worldly musicians are given every opportunity to flourish.

Developed and run in partnership with the Multicultural Communities Council of SA, the Creative Cohesion program is a development program focused on musicians and communities from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Participants include high-calibre musicians, composers and performers who have founded their own labels, won international awards and played across the globe.

Nexus Music Programs Manager Emily Tulloch says Creative Cohesion aims to connect the local and international contemporary music industry with talented, diverse musicians.

Cuban trumpet aficionado Lazaro Numa is just back from the Borneo Jazz Festival while Pakistani producer, composer and singer Farhan Shah was recently profiled by SBS Hindi. The other eight participants in the program are Abdul Nanou, Manadi Lopa, Sabika Jasmine, Zhao Liang, Dadanii Okwabi, Kashkul, Anna Gabriela and Alain Valdoze.

Numa and Shah have both made Adelaide home in the past two years and agree there’s great opportunity to be found in the city and that Nexus has increased that opportunity.

A trumpet player with traditional Cuban training, Numa says he is always pleased to see how audiences respond to his work. He recently collaborated with producer and pianist Brendan Fitzgerald for the Fringe Festival in SWING – The Beat That Shook The World and MOJITO! – The Hemingway Cabaret. 

“I’ve worked with [long-running Cuban jazz productions] Afrocuba and Cubanismo and I always see people getting into it,” he says.

Lazaro Numa

At the same time, he relishes the opportunity to learn from others, something that has been richly provided through the Creative Cohesion program.

Shah says as soon as he arrived in Adelaide, he found collaborators. “I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with many migrant communities, from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India,” he says.

“Australia is more multicultural than where I grew up,” he adds, and this means he has had valuable opportunities to work with and learn from musicians working in many different traditions.

However, he notes that barriers to making the most of his work, such as limited or inaccessible funding, have remained present and that’s where the Creative Cohesion program comes in.

“Essentially we’re trying to create extra pathways for people like Lazaro and Farhan to present their work and do the things they want to do here,” Tulloch says.

Farhan Shah

For other participants, the program is more outward-looking.

“There are other people in the program who have been longer here in Adelaide and who have good local networks and are looking to branch out internationally so we help with that too.”

The program will culminate in April next year with a performance series that features all 10 musicians.

“This will be a really great way of presenting the breadth of this community, and of our Adelaide music community, to the public,” says Tulloch.

So, is there any chance the extraordinary swathe of artists in the Creative Cohesion program could form a supergroup?

“There will be an ensemble of all the artists, yes!,” says Tulloch.

“I could already see this when we were all playing together recently,” says Numa. “The violinist, the drummer and I started playing. I think it will be amazing.”

For both Numa and Shah, sharing the culture and history that imbues their music is key. Shah emphasises the freedom of expression that he feels as an artist practising in Australia.

“For an artist it is important that whatever they feel, it comes out,” he says. “There should be no barriers, and this is what I feel is the opportunity as an artist in Australia. People can agree or disagree with that you’re doing. And if they disagree you won’t get beaten.

“I’ve been able to build my own identity here, as an Australian-Pakistani musician and composer and singer. It feels great.”

Header image: Farhan Shah, Lazaro Numa and Emily Tulloch

Photography: Sia Duff

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