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Season 2 Of Arts Midwest's Caravanserai Brings Moroccan Artists To U.S.

MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Season two of the critically acclaimed Caravanserai: A place where cultures meet has begun in Grand Rapids, Minnesota with Morocco's Majid Bekkas Gnawa Ensemble, a group of musicians and singers performing contemporary gnawa, a predecessor to American jazz and blues. Highly respected in Morocco, Majid Bekkas and Moroccan-American multi-instrumentalist Brahim Fribgane join Caravanserai this fall for a tour of four U.S. cities.

Caravanserai is a groundbreaking cultural exchange program produced by Arts Midwest on behalf of its fellow U.S. Regional Arts Organizations.

Conceived by Arts Midwest as a place for meaningful cultural exchanges between Americans and the Muslim world, Caravanserai uses the international languages of music, film, and photography to create a safe haven for conversation.

"World events are showing us that we need even more programs like Caravanserai," said David Fraher, Executive Director of Arts Midwest. "When these artists spend an entire week in one of our host communities, they get to know local families, school children, teachers, and other community members. Audiences respond with overwhelming warmth and gratitude for the chance to have such personal cultural exchange."

Caravanserai was launched in 2011 with a $1 million grant from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Its first season featured tours from Pakistan, and reached five communities across the United States. "The Pakistan edition of Caravanserai was incredibly successful," says Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art President Ed Henry. "We are very pleased with the program's progress toward building bridges between American and Muslim societies and are looking forward to another season of promoting deeper understanding and appreciation."

Arts Midwest has received additional financial support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and MetLife Foundation All-In: Re-imagining Community Participation Program, and the Moroccan National Tourism Office. Additionally, the leading organization for cultural development in Morocco's southern region of Essaouira, The Essaouira Mogador Association, has joined as an important international partner.

Andre Azoulay, Royal Advisor to His Majesty King Mohammed VI, and head of the association, extolled the value of Caravanserai: Morocco, saying, "In these charged times, Caravanserai is a much needed bridge that is reaching across cultural divisions to deepen understanding and heighten respect between people. We join Arts Midwest to partner Caravanserai's Morocco edition with the firm belief that the program will go a long way to foster peace by sharing Morocco's rich cultural heritage with participating American communities."

New to this season is a photography component designed to initiate a visual dialogue between countries and further immerse the U.S. communities in the unique culture of Morocco.

Working with Moroccan curator Nawal Slaoui of Cultures Interface, the Caravanserai exhibition explores the diversity and transformations Morocco has experienced over its long history. The exhibition features works by Moroccan photographers Zineb Andress Arraki, Laila Hida and Khalil Nemmaoui will be on display in each Caravanserai community as well as an exhibition in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Caravanserai: Morocco tours will visit

  • Grand Rapids, Minnesota
  • Jamestown, North Dakota
  • Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • Nashville, Tennessee

The season includes a roster of outstanding cultural leaders, curated by artistic director Zeyba Rahman.

The Majid Bekkas Gnawa Ensemble featuring Brahim Fribgane will share soulful Gnawa music and dance, an ancient Moroccan tradition and ancestor of American blues.

In early 2013, filmmaker Hakim Belabbes will explore Morocco's domestic spaces, religious rituals, and relationships between Moroccans and relatives living abroad.

In spring 2013, guest vocalist Francoise Atlan will join the renowned Orchestra of Fes to celebrate traditional Andalusian, Arab, and Sephardic melodies.

These artists will conduct week-long residencies that include performances, exhibitions, film screenings, educational workshops, and discussions in the four Caravanserai communities.

Caravanserai: A place where cultures meet is produced by Arts Midwest on behalf of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations with leadership support from the Building Bridges Program of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Major support is provided by Robert Sterling Clark Foundation. This project is made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and MetLife Foundation All-In: Re-imagining Community Participation Program. Additional assistance has been provided by our lead Moroccan partners, the Essaouira Mogador Association and the Office of Moroccan National Tourism. Caravanserai's film and media programming is coordinated on behalf of the program by South Arts.

SOURCE Arts Midwest