Interview With Eric aka Fenomeno Show from ‘Open The Gate’
Q. Tell us a bit about Open The Gate, and the objectives of the organisation?
Open The Gate is a cultural organization whose objective is to promote a positive and contemporary image of African & Diaspora arts, crafts, music, design and culture ; offering accessible cultural programs across the communities.
Open The Gate is a hub and platform for artists, musicians and creative minds and also acts as a booking agency.
We host regular events in London’s venues, cinemas and squares but also get our bands and our The African Market hired for festivals and other events across Europe.
Q. On Easter Sunday you have 2 events lined up at the Rich Mix, an African Market and a charity gig for Gambia. Tell us a bit about them, and why people should come down and check it out?
Yes, usually at RichMix cinema we have the opportunity to use their concert hall for 13 hours, from 12 midday to 1am so we reproduce the classic Open the Gate atmosphere by bringing together all its elements: for the first part of the day 12 to 7pm The African Market displays many hi-quality stalls selected between the best African designers in London, offers free drumming circle for children to be entertained as well as story telling performances and face-painting!
Really and truly a perfect day for the family, The African Market is one of the most popular free entry events in London!
For the second part of the event, the ticketed one, we usually offer a Live World Music concert , this time it will be also the official London launch of the Pen & Paper Campaign in The Gambia, that’s why performing on stage will be Jally Kebba Susso & Manding Sabu which for the occasion is showcasing new tracks and new band members for the first time! Also the DJs will be Gambians.
Typical West-African food will be served through all the day & night event.
Q. Whilst you plan many African cultural events here in the U.K, you are now setting up projects in Africa. What is it that you are working on out there?
Personally I find that the African Cultural events here in the UK are just the window for projects in Africa, that’s what I studied for, Coöperation & Development Project Management.
In many cases for Open the Gate the party can be an excuse to make people aware of some problem or of a particular crisis in some place of the world. Music is always been the bridge for the masses to reach a certain level of consciousness, unfortunately recently is being used mostly in the opposite direction, and this should be our battle, where “us” means all the artists, singers, producers and especially events promoters!
Q. What is the Paper And Pen campaign about?
The Pen & Paper Campaign is a very simple structure that helps to solve more than one problem at once:
It is a tool that allows tourists to devolve their donations, stationery and didactic material in general, in collection points in several hotels and restaurant. Besides the aim of helping the education system by providing the learning material to the pupils the Campaign also educates the tourist on what they donate and how, making sure that the impact of tourism in developing countries is fair and not feeding mental dependence within the local communities.
All the donations collected by our team of Open the Gate Gambia are then distributed during Donation Ceremonies by the hand of the local teachers, between speeches by local authorities and traditional music performances.
The project is very functional and it’s applicable in every developing country with a minimum of tourism.
The Gambian authorities have much appreciated the idea and the aims of the project so we hope that soon the structure will be self-sufficient as it was built to be, allowing us to bring the project in other countries with the same issues.
Q. Tell us about the immigration advice clinics you run?
As a cultural organization we try to cover as many fields as possible and we have welcomed the idea of offering also this service to the community we live and work with, knowing that many of our friends need assistance to apply or renew or change denomination of their or their familiars Visas.
We are generally open to increase the number of services that our organization can offer as long as they are pertinent with the concept of Open the Gate itself.
Q. What other future projects do you have planned?
Open the Gate is growing fast , and looks like there will be more Open the Gate organizations in other European countries, but I cannot tell you more about it right now, surely when it will happen we’ll make sure that everyone we’ll hear about it!
We have a wonderful website www.openthegate.org.uk ‚made by my very talented partner Sandrine Herbert Razafinjato also curator of The African Market and mother of our Fashion label Open the Gate Handmade; there you can find all the info regarding past , present and future events and project .
On the right column of the website is possible to subscribe to our newsletter to keep yourselves updated. At last I would like to thank “I am Hip-Hop” magazine for this opportunity to talk about our work and to reach such an interesting audience!
Visit the Facebook Event page for more information on the The African Market + Charity Gig for the Gambia and Pen & Paper Campaign launch.