PAST EVENT: 30 July: Burmese Arts Festival fundraiser
30 July: Burmese Arts Festival fundraiser
21 Jul 10

Zarganar, the Burmese comedian who describes himself as the loudspeaker of the people, is serving a 35 year prison sentence for criticizing the government’s handling of the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. As of last month, his already appalling punishment has been made worse by the authorities’ decision to end all family visits. His father died last week and there is no chance of his being allowed out to attend the funeral.

It is because Zarganar tells the truth and gives hope to his people that he is seen to be so threatening and the punishment of such a high profile and popular figure sends out a clear message to deter other comedians and artists. Only the most courageous dare to continue their trade. With the Burmese elections approaching (due in October), it is more important than ever to support artists. When the political process is at its most oppressive and corrupt, the artist’s message is its most potent, inspiring and giving hope that a different world is possible.

In response to this, a group of artists — Burmese and those inspired by Burma — have come together with Index on Censorship and English PEN to create the Burmese Arts Festival (October 14 — 17 Free Word Centre London) that does two important things; it brings together Burmese artists from around the world, including artists from Burma itself to present their work; and it invites these artists and other people with commitment, vision and ideas to come together to address how artists around the world can help bring about democratic change.

Fundraising event 30th July— 6.30pm — Free Word Centre
To help raise funds for the festival we have a great programme for the 30th July.

We are delighted to have an exclusive preview of ‘THIS PRISON WHERE I LIVE’ a film by Rex Bloomstein about two comedians. Whilst Zarganar languishes in prison, Michael Mittermeier is free to practise his art of humour and provocation as one of Germany’s leading stand up comedians. Two men are joined by comedy and separated by repression. . All those who are interested in Zarganar in particular and Burma in general will be fascinated by this exceptional film that features an extensive interview with Zarganar before his imprisoment and new footage of Mittermeier’s recent trip to Burma.

Burmese Theatre Workshop will be presenting their latest piece ‘Beyond Nargis’. The piece takes the audience back to Burma in May 2008 as the population struggles to cope with the effects of the worst natural disaster in living memory, Cyclone Nargis. Travelling from the country’s Golden Pagoda to the devastated Delta Region, they will present a variety of stories from those affected by Nargis.

There will also be a Burmese Arts Festival Auction in which Htein Lin and other artists taking part in the festival have very kindly agreed to auction pieces of their work.

Tickets cost £20 and all proceeds will go to the bringing artists to the festival and production costs. If you can’t make it please send a donation to Burmese Arts Festival — cheques made payable to Writers and Scholars Educational Trust.

Click here for more info and tickets