Up With People in Antwerp
Up with People celebrates this year its 50th anniversary. The organization tries to bring global understanding through community service and music. They tour around the world has landed in Antwerp. This Is Antwerp talked with Delaney, Diane and Alicen, three women of the Up with People’s crew, about Antwerp and their upcoming show this Saturday.
TIA: Before we start: can you tell me where Up with People exactly stands for?
Diane: Up with People is an organization that brings people from all over the world together through music. We do community work and sleep at host families to get to know the culture of the city we’re in. At the end of the week we perform. We see ourselves as ambassadors to make the world a better place. We are the future, that’s why we want to encourage young people to speak their voice so that we can change the world for the better.
TIA: What are you going to do for these couple of days?
Diane: The community work we do is different every week and depends on the work we can get in the city we are in. Now we’re going to work at an art place for disabled people and we’re going to interact with them. Some of our Japanese members are going to a senior home and are going to make origami with the elderly.
Alicen: I’m going to a middle school and dance with the children.
Delaney: We also want to discuss with youngsters. We have a program called ‘Take a stand’ in which we give children a phrase and with that phrase they have to make their own opinion and speak about that phrase/topic in a peaceful way.
Diane: On Thursday we are also going to do a tour at the harbor. Our guide is a local, so it’s nice to have his perspective of the city.
TIA: You are all artists. Does art bring people together?
Alicen: Art is a way to communicate without using words. You can dance with anyone without even knowing his language. When we are going to perform this Saturday, the lyrics of the songs we use will be translated on big screens, but you don’t actually need the words to understand about what the music is about.
Delaney: Up with People started with a group of University kids in the sixties. They were tired of not having a voice to make a difference in the world. So they used art to create their voices.
Diane: We think that travelling brings people together while art gives everyone the same voice. Every city we visit becomes so real. For example, we went to Mexico a few weeks ago where the people now suffer of the consequences of a huge hurricane. Normally, it’s only something you hear on the news, but now we have friends there. That makes it so much more real and awful.
TIA: What do you think of Antwerp so far?
Alicen: When we just got here, I almost tripped because I was staring whole the time at all the buildings. It’s so beautiful here. In Antwerp there’s a lot of diversity. It’s a big difference with Oostend, where we were last week. It’s nice to be between so many different people with so many different backgrounds.
Diane: I’ve been here already three times, so I feel comfortable walking around here. The train station is very beautiful and the people are friendly. It’s also a big plus that everyone can speak English here so we can express ourselves in our own language. I feel like Antwerp is an in-between-city. It clearly is a city, but it is not as big as Brussels, for example, and that’s nice.
Delaney: I like that Antwerp is close to water, because it reminds me of my hometown Vancouver. I’ve only been here for a few hours, but it has already been great.
TIA: Is Antwerp a good town to perform art in?
Diane: People have more opportunities to see performances in cities like Antwerp. So because they have more options, it makes it more difficult to sell our tickets for the show this Saturday! But I think it’s important that we’re here, because we bring songs about interesting topics like hope and the environment. We also bring traditional music and dances from different cultures. And we have a special song especially made for Belgium so we think that’s reason enough to come and see our show!
Up with People in Antwerp: The Journey
Saturday, October 31 at 15h00 and 20h00
Theater Elckerlyc :: Frankrijklei 85-87, 2000 Antwerp
Prices: Adults: 23 EURO, Children: 19 EURO
Buy your tickets here
Text by Helen van den Poel
Pics by Up With People and This Is Antwerp