LIFESTYLE - CULTURE

Fondation Eme: Fighting isolation with music



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 Mike Zenari

The Fondation Eme has been bringing wellbeing, inclusion and dignity to vulnerable and fragile people through music since 2009. During the pandemic, its work has been more critical then ever. Sarah Bergdoll explains.

Jess Bauldry: How did the Fondation EME help vulnerable people access culture in 2020? 

Sarah Bergdoll: We did 440 events this year. We coordinated 75 virtual concerts and 13 djembé workshops by Luxembourgish professional musicians at every care institution (for people who are elderly, infirm, differently-abled and socially disadvantaged) and broadcast on apartTV and EschTV to reach vulnerable people at home. From the “deconfinement” onwards, 120 live concerts took place outdoors [of the institutions]. From September 2020, we adapted all our activities so that 10 projects and 80 concerts took place until the end of the year. 

The risks posed by visiting vulnerable people has forced some activities to go digital. How easy was it for your stakeholders to adjust to digital tools?

It was not as easy for elderly people or people with special needs to adjust to the digital activities. We are lucky to work closely with the different institutions. Our original idea was to record as many musicians as possible, do DVDs and then send them to the care homes. But the lockdown came soon after we had developed the idea, so we had to adapt. We then sent the recordings in digital format to our partner institutions and found a TV channel which was happy to broadcast the concerts. We’ve even had some DVDs from previous concerts from various musicians sent in, which we then transferred to our partners. Some care homes watched the concerts in small groups, others followed our broadcast programme and helped elderly people choose the TV channel. Schools for children with special needs, for example, had already put together their online programme so it was easier for them to incorporate the concerts and workshops.

We were always conscious that the digital activities could not replace live performances or live workshops and that many people from our target groups didn’t have access to our digital offer. So as soon as it was possible, around mid-April, we began to organise outdoors concerts and reached even more people. 

What’s been the feedback from your stakeholders about the events you coordinated in 2020?

Since the Fondation Eme was founded in 2009, it was always very clear that music impacted so many of our participants and spectators. We could spend hours telling stories, but this year it became even clearer that music and culture in general benefit solidarity and help fight loneliness and isolation. The fact that we did 120 outdoor concerts in 5 months throughout the country shows that our stakeholders share our vision and that everyone benefits from music and culture.

Even in late-November, we were lucky to still be able to continue with our activities, which of course follow all the government rules and regulations. We have had feedback from various institutions and even families, telling us that the people participating were really happy and that even for healthcare workers it was a joyous and peaceful moment they could spend together.

We are really happy to be able to continue our activities and thank our partners and stakeholders for their trust during these difficult times. 

What is planned for 2021? 

We have been very creative during these difficult times and many projects are planned for 2021. We will continue to bring wellbeing, inclusion and dignity to vulnerable and fragile people through music. We are convinced that music makes it possible to break down barriers of all kinds, by promoting individual and collective wellbeing.

Some highlights will be digital installation “Soundcolors” which can be used by everyone to create music, musical tours through different exhibitions for people with Alzheimer’s or the “CreativityLab” for young refugees at the Lycée Technique du Centre--Annexe Kirchberg where the youngsters can choose between dance, beat-making or violin workshops. All our new, postponed or continuous projects will also be published on our website.

This article was originally published in the January 2021 edition of Delano Magazine