Sandblast is an arts and human rights charity. We aim to empower the Saharawi refugees to tell their own story, promote their culture and earn a living through the arts.
Through our Saharawi Artist Fund we finance projects in the refugee camps to facilitate cultural/artistic expression and development, and help develop collaborations between Saharawis and artists worldwide. In order to help raise funds for our projects, Sandblast is promoting "Running the Sahara 2010" (aka The Saharamarathon).
The invisibility of the Saharawi situation in mass media and public discourse is a serious problem. This is currently being highlighted by the media silence on the grave human rights violations taking place against Saharawi activists.
Sandblast was founded by the anthropologist and photographer Danielle Smith in 2005. Having been involved with the Saharawi refugees in SW Algeria since 1991, Smith is convinced that one of the greatest hindrances to the Saharawi self-determination cause is its enduring invisibility. In 2007, Smith organised the Sandblast festival in London to bring Saharawi artists from the camps to the UK and celebrate Saharawi arts and culture. Danielle Smith believes that "the arts can reaffirm the Saharawi distinct identity and also help bolster a culture which is being threated by the twin realities of exile and the occupation of their homeland in Western Sahara" (Smith 2009).
Aims and Objectives
Through educational events and the arts, Sandblast aims to raise awareness of the situation in Western Sahara and put the Saharawis on the map culturally. It seeks to promote artistic development and stimulate creative ties between the Saharawis and artists worldwide and to raise funds for projects in the camps of Saharawi cultural and economic empowerment.
Sandblast has set up SAF to respond to the lack of opportunities in the refugee camps for aspiring and established artists to develop and showcase their talents. Via the arts the Saharawis seek to peacefully express their aspirations for self-determination and affirm their distinct culture and identity, to gain wider international recognition.
SAF exists to:
• run workshops in the camps to teach Saharawis the skills to produce high quality and original artistic work and to earn an income from creative activities
• enable outstanding Saharawi talent to further their development through residencies and master classes and participation in international artistic and cultural platforms
• provide bursaries for aspiring Saharawi artists in the camps to pursue their creative ideas
• promote and showcase Saharawi arts
Through SAF we seek to finance regular workshops in the camps in music, dance, theatre and jewelry design from plastic bottles and set up a professional recording studio and train Saharawis in sound engineering. For this we are raising £50,000 over the next year.