Best Practices of the ACPCultures+ Programme: Music Bridges

Connecting the Pacific, Africa and Europe through music

With the support of the ACPCultures+ Programme, a consortium of 3 organisations created a network of professional musicians from 2 regions, Melanesia and Southern Africa


Music Bridges, a project supported by the ACPCultures+ Programme between 2013 and 2014, aimed at reinforcing  the creation and production of music goods in Vanuatu and Mozambique building on south-south cooperation, networking and distribution circuits between regional and European artistic contexts.

Diverse and talented young musicians from two regions, Melanesia and Southern Africa, have been engaged through creative platforms to share amongst one another and discover innovative ways of promoting themselves, their music and their culture.  Activities included participating in music camps, performing live at festivals, networking with international artists (several musicians reciprocally attended the camps and festivals), and developing technical, managerial and production skills to build their careers and opportunities.

Music Bridges has involved, during the two years of implementation, 108 young artists coming from Pacific Islands, Southern African Countries and Europe to improve their creativity and strengthen their professional music career. The project has organised two main events, Singaot Musik Kamp in Vanuatu (October 2013) and Crossroads Music Camp in Mozambique (May/June 2014), and performances in local festivals attended by 47.000 people.

To strengthen the creation of an intra ACP network, the project has also mapped the music environment in Vanuatu and Mozambique. In both countries the activity has been carried out with local stakeholders: in Mozambique the Instituto de Artes e Cultura - ISArC, while in Vanuatu the partner Further Arts has worked with local musicians and the music and cultural industry to define the research and collect information on music services and networks, such as artists, associations and venues.

The project has also strengthened their musical skills and abilities through improvised jam sessions in a peer learning environment. The study of diverse music styles and the practice with new instruments were a key point to the process.

Finally, Music Bridges organised 3 training workshops on copyrights, licences and marketing.

According to Federica Besana, the project coordinator, “Music Bridges has been perceived as a successful experience from many points of views: musicians shared a great enthusiasm for the activities, seeing in the music camp methodology a great tool to develop their talent, stimulate their creativity, meet international artists and strengthen their music career with professional tools to enter music industry. Music stakeholder agreed on the opportunities given by Music Bridges, that brought on stage young musicians, in a professional approach, opening to the public the chance to know traditional music from other countries. Festivals, in particular, stated that the presence of international artists improved the reputation of the events within the audience”.


During the camp, participants had the chance to understand better other musicians’ background and the organisation of specific moments to share cultural traits and traditions allowed the group to get to know other contexts, while finding many connecting points in history, culture and music. Partners’ organizations created during the two years of project a very collaborative environment, and the participants’ perception of an EU-ACP team contributed to the easy creation of an international network.


The overall objective of the action sees the strengthening of the music industry as a tool of poverty reduction in the ACP countries. Even if there is a lack of official statistics and data to assess the impact of the project in economic terms, the project had an impact on the career of the musicians that tool part to the activities. Groups that attended Music Bridges first event, such as Simangavole (La Réunion) and Kuaamakonga (Solomon Islands), largely performed abroad in the following years, in particular in India, France and Australia. For what concern the media trainees in Vanuatu, one of them, Roselyne Tari has been selected for the FemLINK Pacific Media and Advocacy training programme.

After the event in Mozambique, there has been a discussion amongst musicians in creating music band. Enthusiasm after attended the music camp brought musicians to regularly meet and discuss together with a proactive attitude ways to replicate camps and to create future exchange and performance opportunities. Furthermore, MusicCrossroads Mozambique is developing ‘MusicCrossroads Academy Program’ with the aim of promoting quality music education with a focus on traditional styles.

Concerning other economic impact of the project, connected to the revenues that could rise from music events, the project shows the economic benefits of cultural events – villages are aware of the positive impact of cultural events and the camp located in the isle of Espiritu Santo (Vanuatu) already hosted two other cultural events.


In Vanuatu, music industry has no structure: the first music event took place in 1996, there are no recording studios, nor musicians that live with their music. The expertise exchanged amongst the musicians at the residential camp, in terms of creativity and music management in an international environment, has opened the way to a new approach to local music goods and services. Attending the two festivals has introduced Vanuatu musicians to local and regional distribution circuits, the presence of international artists has given local festival a greater regional attention and the networking activity at the camp has created for all musicians at SMK new opportunities for international performances. Specifically talking about Vanuatu musicians, having organized advertising events in Australia while travelling to the event in Mozambique, the project allowed new regional opportunities for the musicians that performed twice in Brisbane. Blue King Brown band has released a new song with Music Bridges musicians (video recorded in Vanuatu during SMK) with 223.000 views. Music Bridges output distribution reached 646.833 people by the MB campaign and 2000 DVDs have been distributed within Europe, Mozambique (and Southern African Countries) and Vanuatu (and Pacific Countries).

For what concerns Mozambique, even if the music industry is more structured, possibilities for young bands are limited and performing in large events is not so common. Having the chance to present their original music in front of 2.000 people, gave the Music Bridges bands the opportunity to show their talent and be invited to other events.


Music Bridges organised also several training sessions.

After attending the workshops on copyrights and creative commons, most of the participants had a clearer idea about the tools of copyrights and licences, according to the international regulations. The majority of musicians was unaware of the author’s rights, had a vague idea of copyright and no knowledge about open licenses. During the first event in Vanuatu, the election of ni-vanuatu musicians to start the establishment of the first collective society of Vanuatu has been an unexpected and positive outcome.

Also the intent to open a creative commons Mozambique with Music Crossroads Mozambique and in Malawi with Music Crossroads Malawi goes in the direction of a more structured music industry in the ACP. The participants stated to have the intention to use some of the tools acquired for the promotion and distribution of their music.

Especially after the workshops in Mozambique, the majority of musicians expressed their interest to practically explore the creative commons tools to promote their music.


From many parts, it has been proposed to continue with Music Bridges, highlighting the positive outcome of the action. The south-south cooperation and networking, in particular, proved to be real and positive. The two music camps had been a key point in the construction of relations, formal and informal, that continued outside the project framework.

All actors encountered and included in both research activities have been involved in the web communication, the network counts 179 members and it can be visualized on Music Bridges web site ( The Action has reinforced musicians’ awareness as per their identity as Artists, enabling them to understand their needs and areas of development to attain a higher level of professional standards and artistic quality.

Seeing the positive impact of the methodology applied in Music Bridges project, partners and musicians decided to recreate a small scale event to involve regional artists to experience a residential creative camp. In November 2014 Further Arts organized a Dance and Music Camp, with traditional dancers and musicians from the different Islands of Vanuatu, shaping a peer to peer learning environment focused on regional culture. Mozambique musicians expressed, just after the end of Music Bridges, a proactive attitude to replicate camps and create future exchanges but distance and lack of dedicated funds drove their enthusiasm to bands management. Several Southern African musicians that attended Music Bridges worked hard in the months following the end of the project and are now entering the music industry as professional musicians. Tapz Tapuwanashe Munya from Zimbabwe, with his band Savannah Afros, recorded an album in 2015, performed in many events and is receiving regional media coverage. Sanderson Mphapo from Malawi has been selected amongst the young Music Crossroads Academy students to attend the program exchange in Mozambique and graduated in 2015. Tigerman from Xai Xai, Mozambique, recorded professionally his fist song (October 2015) and uploaded it on a music share platform free to download; Banda Marrove from Nampula (Mozambique) has started performing in local touristic places and organized a now photo shooting in traditional clothes for their communication and Banda Tudulos from Quelimane are performing in larger events. Also for the media trainee there has been a growth in opportunities: Marilia Pessane from Mozambique attended in 2015 Festival Sauti za Busara in Tanzania within the press team. Music Bridges musicians are still connected and through social media are supporting and promoting each other successes.

According to the musician James Ratusla from Fiji, “Music Bridges is the vital link for passionate artists to voice their deeply rooted rhythms, chants and culture and display it to the International arena. I was very honoured to be part of that music camp and would like my band to be involved in more of these workshops. We desperately need to get exposed and be recognized by World Music Festivals organizers. Music Bridges is our only beacon of light at the moment”.

Music Bridges has been a determinant factor for the financial autonomy of the musicians. The project has reinforced musicians’ awareness as per their identity as artists, enabling them to understand their needs and areas of development to attain a higher level of professional standards and artistic quality. The action has also strengthened their musical skills and abilities through improvised jam sessions in a peer learning environment. The study of diverse music styles and the practice with new instruments were a key point to the process. Music Bridges has equipped musicians with the knowledge needed to manage their own career in a strategic manner. The workshops held empowered them to make appropriate career choices in an informed way and with a cautious attitude, thereby decreasing chances of being exploited by ‘mendacious’ operators of the music industry sector. Workshops on copyrights and licenses proved particularly successful.

Thanks to the involvement of local populations, the project has enhanced musicians’ visibility, popularity and reputation at local, regional and international level through their performance at festivals and their presence on the net.

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November 10, 2015
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