FUNDRAISER BIL’IN – ART AND ACTIVISM IN PALESTINE

THE POPULAR STRUGGLE COMMITTEE OF BILI’N INVITES IMAGINACTION FOR TWO WEEKS OF CULTURAL ACTIVISM THIS OCTOBER.

My name is Hector Aristizabal and I am the Founder/Director of ImaginAction.  I am alive today because of countless acts of solidarity by both friends and total strangers. With their support, I survived. I lived to tell my story. 

By sharing my experiences of political imprisonment, torture and creative struggle, I have learned that story is the biggest freedom fighter. It communicates our truth. It resists the oppressive narratives that others try to impose upon us.  Story makes meaning when things seem not to make sense. It sees our wounds. It heals our hearts.  It re-weaves community. Story creates POWER.

That’s why I founded the organization ImaginAction. For more than a decade, we’ve traveled the world, working alongside others who wish to tell their own rich stories of struggle and hope.

Now we have been invited to Palestine by the Popular Struggle Committee in the village of Bili´n – a focal point of nonviolent creative protest against the Israeli occupation.   

We feel honored to join with this community for two weeks of creativity, activism and cultural exchange. 

During our time together, we will share our expertise in using theater for social justice. Using Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed we’ll help create a Forum Theater play drawn from the real-life experiences of the people of Bili´n and we’ll carry performances to neighboring villages (Nabi Saleh, Nili’n and Budrus). We’ll organize a street theater event including spectacular giant puppets to participate in the weekly demonstration against the occupation. Chilean muralist Francisco Letelier will collaborate with the community in the creation of a mural depicting the story of Bili’n’s struggle for dignity and freedom. We’ll join with local and international artists at the end of our stay in a cultural exchange of music and theater to celebrate the Olive Harvest.

As we have done in our work in Colombia, Northern Ireland, and China, we have invited a select group of international theater practitioners to work with us in order to learn from the experience and from each other about the use of theater for community transformation. 

If you can’t join us in Bili´n, you can still be part of the story. Your contribution will help make our work possible.

THE IMPACT OF YOUR DONATION

For many years ImaginAction has been developing different ways of using Theater of the Oppressed and other methodologies to collaborate with political and social activists, community and youth organizers, educators and therapists around the globe as a way of engaging social problems, activating communities, and experimenting with new social and political possibilities. Your donation will help ImaginAction´s team and up to 20 Palestinian artists  to come together and learn from each other as we use theater as a way of political resistance and healing. 

WHAT WE NEED

We will need $12,000 USD that will pay for the following items:

1. International flight  (approximately $1,400 ) for Ken Srdjak, puppetista extraordinaire who will travel to Bili’n two weeks prior to the arrival of the rest of the group of Internationals. Ken will bring materials ($ 600) and a specific plan to teach how to build giant puppets. During his workshop several giant puppets will be made with the community of Bili´n.  These puppets will be used both in the weekly demonstration against the occupation and the forum theater play that will be developed and performed at the end of our residency.  

2. International flight for Muralist Francisco Letelier ($1400) plus materials ($500) that will be used for the creation of a mural depicting the many years of the Bili´n struggle against the Israeli occupation.  Francisco will be working virtually with the community in the concept design of the mural prior to his arrival.

3. We will pay local organizers Fidaa Ataya ($3,000) and Ben Rivers ($1,000) for their work with the logistics during the preparation and implementation of several aspects of this residency. i.e. Coordinating travel arrangements to and from airports in Amman and Tel Aviv. Transportation inside the West Bank as we will travel to three local villages, coordinating food and lodging (for up to 10 international and 20 Palestinian artists) coordinating appropriate places for the theater of the oppressed workshops, the puppet making as well as the creation of the mural. Finally they will coordinate the 5 day Festival to celebrate the olive harvest including performances of both International and local Palestinian theater and music groups as well as the Forum Theater piece that we will develop during the residency. 

4.  We wish to provide full scholarships to at least 20 local Palestinian artists from neighboring villages. These are theater practitioners and community organizers who have already expressed their interest in participating in the internship as well as all the events programmed during the 14 days of the residency.  Most of these artists are people we have worked with during past visits to Palestine or who have been part of The Freedom Bus organized by Ben Rivers and The Freedom Theater from Jenin.  Each scholarship includes travel costs from their villages to Bili´n, plus food and lodging for the 14 days. Some of these artists will also perform their plays during the 5-day olive harvest festival at the end of the residency.  None of the Palestinian artists will pay any fees for the Forum Theater training offered by Hector Aristizabal and Alessia Cartoni. We have calculated 13,000 Shekels or $4,000 dollars to be able to cover these costs. 

5. Alessia and Hector will cover our costs with the contributions of the International interns.  So none of the indiegogo campaign will pay us or cover our expenses. If the campaign raises more than the $12,000 requested, additional funds will go in support of the organization and will be greatly appreciated.

RISKS AND CHALLENGES 

As many of you know, gaining entry into the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel is not predictable.   With the current onslaught on Gaza – where nearly 2000 Palestinians have been massacred – we predict that the Israeli authorities will be especially restrictive in who they allow into Palestine-Israel.

Our Palestinian comrades on the ground have made it clear however, that during times like this, it is crucial that we continue to unite in on-the-ground, joint struggle against the racist, colonial and militaristic structures that underpin the ongoing and brutal oppression of the Palestinian people.

OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP 1) Spread the word: Tell your friends, family, and colleagues about this collaboration between ImaginAction and the Popular Struggle Committee of Bili’n and ask them to donate!  Go to www.imaginaction.org to learn more about this project.

2) Donate Frequent Flyer Miles! We will be able to use your miles to purchase a ticket for our puppetista or our muralist. Contact Hector at haristizabal60@gmail.com.

3) Share this on Facebook: Like our facebook page.  Invite your friends to our facebook event. Spread the word using the hashtags # and #indiegogo. 

4) Share this on Twitter: Follow and retwee @. Spread the word using the hashtags # and #indiegogo.

WHAT HAPPENS WITH YOUR DONATION Your donation on Indiegogo will be sent to our non-profit ImaginAction who organizes this internship. ImaginAction is a Los Angeles-based traveling theater arts nonprofit that seeks to equip individuals, communities and the organizations that serve them with arts-based tools designed to lead to transformative change.  When you contribute you will receive an email from ImaginAction confirming the tax-deductible status of your contribution.

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS? Please contact our campaign manager Hector Aristizabal at haristizabal60@gmail.com who will be happy to respond.

TO DONATE AND FOR MORE INFORMATION, GO TO OUR INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN:

http://igg.me/at/ARTANDACTIVISM/x/3227549

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