Next Level: Ethiopia

From January 25 to February 8, 2020, five hip hop artists traveled to Ethiopia as part of the Next Level program. Graffiti/Aerosol Artist Vincent “plus1” Ballentine, MC Boog Brown, Dancer Alexander “Bboy El Niño” Diaz and DJ Skeme Richards joined team manager JaciCaprice Clark to perform for audiences and collaborate with local artists to promote cross-cultural creative exchange and conflict transformation.

The first week was spent in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where workshops were hosted at the Addis Ababa University – Yared School of Music. Between participants from the community, local organizations and university students, Team Ethiopia had the chance to work with almost 100 participants. Workshops focused on each of the four disciplines and incorporated themes of conflict transformation and entrepreneurship. By fostering mutual respect and self-expression, artists were able to create sustainable networks and support systems.

An All Women’s Workshop was held for participants to discuss the role that women play in the arts. The workshop resulted in “The Lucies” – an all-female group of artists who will continue to meet, collaborate, perform and support each other’s work to see group members achieve their goals. The week culminated in a final concert that drew a crowd of more than 250 people.

In Me’kele, Ethiopia the workshops were held at the newly opened Me’kele American Corner and drew participants from the community and local university as well. The final jam session was designed to showcase what participants had learned and 150 people came to support the event and cheer on the artists.

Next Level, a cultural diplomacy program that uses hip hop to create connections, is an initiative of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Meridian International Center. The program promotes conflict transformation, entrepreneurship and artistic and professional development among younger and under-served audiences around the world.

Project summary

Next Level: Ethiopia | February 2020
Number of Visitors: 5
Regions: 1
Countries: 3
Impact Areas: 2
Program Areas: 1
Partners: 4