Council funding boost is music to ears of asylum seeker group

Council funding boost is music to ears of asylum seeker group
Members of the Citadel music group during rehearsal at Bull McCabe's, Cork. Picture Denis Minihane

A MUSIC group made up of asylum seekers living in Cork has been awarded a €5,000 grant by Cork City Council.

Citadel, a band comprising up to 11 nationalities of asylum seekers residing at the Kinsale Road direct provision centre, has been earning rave reviews across the county and beyond in recent months for its boundless enthusiasm for international music.

The idea for the band came from an initiative run by Burundian guitar player, Norbert Nkenguruste, who lives at the Kinsale Road centre, and his friend Roos Demol, from Belgium, who voluntarily works with asylum seekers.

They began collecting donated guitars in the summer of 2017 and then other instruments. The idea was to give asylum seekers a musical outlet and this has grown into a performing group who meet weekly to hone their sound.

The funding comes under the Cork City of Sanctuary (COS) movement which is linked to the Places of Sanctuary Ireland (PoSI) network. Roos, who performs with and manages the band, says the group has been going from strength to strength with plans for live shows and a documentary on its success in the pipeline for this year.

“It’s amazing to receive the funding and we believe we are the only band of asylum seekers in Ireland receiving funding from a local authority,” she said. “We are going to do two workshops with Niwel Tsumbu, a Congolese jazz guitarist.

“We are also working with Salim Nzé, a filmmaker living in West Cork who is from Tanzania originally. He is making a documentary which we hope will be finished by the end of this year.

“We will probably be doing the workshops in the Triskel Arts Centre and are working towards putting on a show at the end of the year.

“It’s very encouraging for the musicians to know they are funded by the city of Cork under the City of Sanctuary umbrella and it really shows that Cork City Council is taking that seriously. It’s great for everyone,” she added.

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