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Give Music a Chance: Charity festival in Waterloo on 10 June

May 22, 2017
Non-profit Waterloo Sessions teams up with Belgian NGO Music Fund to support music projects in southeast Asia

Summertime In Belgium means it’s festival season. With Give Music a Chance, the country’s thriving musical scene gets another exciting addition, and one that goes beyond sheer entertainment. All proceeds from the event will help musical projects in Myanmar and Vietnam.

Set in the beautiful grounds of Waterloo’s Campus d‘Argenteuil, the one-day festival is spread over three different indoor and outdoor stages, featuring bands including Belgian outfits Stereo Grand and Grandgeorge and Norwegian groups Pogo Pops and Peer Nic. The eclectic programme offers not only pop rock and jazz but also salsa and soul. The event is also family-friendly, with a big selection of food trucks, a bouncy castle, a disco for kids, and more.

The creative mind behind it all is Norwegian-born, Brussels-based music lover Christian Lund, who is an economist at EFTA Surveillance Authority ESA by day and now festival director by night. “I’ve been wanting to organise a music festival for years, and when Christian Bertram who fixes my guitar every year told me about his involvement in the Music Fund, it just clicked”, he explains, adding: “All I was missing was a cause.”

Music Fund, the Belgium-based non-profit organisation that Lund teamed up with for the festival, was founded in 2005 and has supported projects all over the globe to give young people in areas affected by poverty or conflict the opportunity to make music. “Learning an instrument can have a huge impact on kids. It makes them feel like being in control, which can have side-effects on the rest of their lives,” explains Lukas Pairon, the director of the initiative.

In this case, the raised money goes to projects in Vietnam and Myanmar, for which Music Fund joined forces with fellow Norwegian NGO Hedda. The aim is to ship instruments to a few newly-founded music schools there, as well as provide training to make the whole undertaking more sustainable. “We quickly realised that donating instruments only makes sense when we teach people on site how to fix them,” says Pairon. A proper development project has been built on the idea that music has the power to bring about social change while at the same time furthering know-how and education.

“Myanmar has so many different ethnic groups, which don’t necessarily get along very well. It’s a fragile state, coming out of a military dictatorship”, Lund points out. “These music schools would be the first of their kind there, and they have a big potential for bringing people together. Music can transcend boundaries and be a strong positive influence.”

So what needs to happen to reach this ambitious goal? “We’re hoping to attract about 1,500 people. Then we will break even and have enough funds to realise the projects properly”, says Lund.

And there are even more ways to help the goodcause than buying festival tickets. If you can’t make it, there’s also the possibility of directly donating your old instruments or participating in an auction selling ukuleles personalised by different visual artists.

10 June, 5 Square d‘Argenteuil, 1410 Waterloo

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