Art is a unifying force that can help us destroy all barriers

Dec 12, 2016

A series of concerts within the campaign "Inclusive Belarus" was concluded on 9 December with a splendid show in the Big concert hall of the Belarusian State Philharmonic Society in Minsk.

The concert in Minsk marked the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Development Programme in Belarus and the end of the campaign "Inclusive Belarus: Leaving No One Behind in Reaching Sustainable Development Goals", which was launched in Minsk on October 24 and in seven weeks has visited all five Oblast centres and has returned to Minsk.

One of the major achievements of the campaign was the creation of a space to hold an open dialogue at all levels about the establishment of a barrier-free environment and tolerant and inclusive society where every member has equal rights to fulfil their potential.

The concert halls have become platforms to showcase the amazing ability of art to conquer inequality and of talent to empower people with disabilities and give them unlimited possibilities.

“People are fighting for money, water, land and even for love. But I've never seen people fight for music,” said in his welcome address to the audience Mr. Sanaka Samarasinha, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in the Republic of Belarus. “Art is what unites us all and the United Nations exists to achieve this goal.”

The audience was in full attendance, with more than 1,000 people came to see the outstanding artists perform in this inclusive concert. Almost all of the performances feature people with disabilities.

“Today I am very happy to see so many great people gather in this hall to share their wonderful mood with each other," commented Roman Sidorchyk, one of the MCs, a stand-up comedian and the finalist of the TNT’s Comedy Battle TV show. “Life is such thing that we all face challenges and obstacles at some point, but if you live it with a smile on your face, it becomes much easier.”

The heart of the audience was won by the world champions in wheelchair dance sport Darya Kulsh and Alexander Lyakhovich, three-time champions of the Dutch Open Wheelchair Ballroom Championship, winners of the first degree of the International competition “Inclusive dance” 2015 and 2016 duet “Magic Girls”, Belarusian violinist with African ancestry Maimuna, international student choir “Dominanta” of the Belarusian State Medical University under the direction of Ekaterina Akunich, participant of the music show “The Voice” (Golos) Patriciya Kurganova, as well as Belarusian popular artists Goerge Koldun, band “Bez Bileta”, UZARI and Art-platform.

The highlight of the concert was the international project “Inside Portraits”, which was carried out by the Swedish organization ShareMusic & Performing Arts, partner of the “Inclusive Belarus” campaign, over the course of two days along with a group of Belarusian children with disabilities.

With the support of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Republic of Belarus an inclusive music band from Germany Mischa Gohlke Band feat. Katrin Wulff also participated in the concert.  Misha Gohlke, who started the band and is its lead singer, has had impaired hearing since childhood, but it does not prevent the band from gathering big concert halls in Germany, as well as impressing the Belarusian audience with the unusual musical crossover of Blues and futuristic pop. The members of the band also held several seminars about music and art for 25 Belarusian kids with disabilities.

“At the end of one of his (Mischa Gohlke) songs the lyrics say “And in the end we were all just humans….” Let us all remember, not only today but also tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and after that we're primarily just humans. And then this world will become a little bit better,” said in his welcoming speech Peter Dettmar, German Ambassador to Belarus.

A partner of the concert Closed joint-stock company “Gomellift” presented the Association of Disabled in Wheelchairs of the Republic of a Belarus with a wheelchair lift. The company has spent more than 15 years creating accessible, barrier-free environment in Belarus, and throughout this period has established 300 lifts in different regions of the country.

“We firmly believe that everyone should have freedom of movement and access to an active social and economic life,” said Deputy Director General of “Gomellift” Sergei Korniyenko.

The partners of the concert on 9 December were the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Republic of Belarus, Priorbank, National Bank of the Republic of Belarus, Сlosed joint-stock company “Gomellift”, Joint Limited Liability Company “Mobile TeleSystems”, Renaissance hotel in Minsk, “T&T Logistics”, Officeton Company.

Campaign “Inclusive Belarus” was launched on October 24 on the 71th anniversary of the United Nations, and ended on 10 December, the International Human Rights Day, with the ceremonial signing of the declaration of willingness to Leave No One Behind in achieving Sustainable Development Goal No.10: Reduced Inequalities.

The declaration was signed by UN Resident Coordinator/ UNDP Resident Representative Sanaka Samarasinha, Chairman of Minsk Region Council of Deputies Ivan Lipnitsky and the First Deputy Chairman of Minsk City Executive Committee Kukharev Vladimir.

Over 48 days all regional centres of the Republic have been hosting seminars, master classes, exhibitions, film screenings and concerts dedicated to the topic of reducing inequalities in society. The events were attended by government officials, representatives of the international community and civil society organizations, the media, civil society and members of vulnerable groups in order to obtain a full picture of the problem and to hear the opinions of all parties.