thu 02/02/2023

Fundraising Gala for Syria | reviews, news & interviews

Fundraising Gala for Syria

Fundraising Gala for Syria

Details of this week's Syrian Festival fundraiser in London

The line-up for the Mosaic Initiative for Syria's gala

In answer to the desperate need for humanitarian relief for the Syrian people inside their country as well as in Syrian refugee camps in neighbouring countries, Mosaic Initiative for Syria has announced a fundraising gala taking place this Saturday, 17 March. It will support Syrian artists and showcase Syrian culture at Kensington Town Hall, as part of the Reel Syria 2012 festival which runs 15-18 March.

All proceeds from this event will benefit the communities affected by the current humanitarian crisis. On the Sunday Bill Drummond will recreate the "Surround for Damascus" show he performed in Syria and is looking for volunteers. See below.

Gala programme, Saturday 17 March:

4:00 pm: Syrian-style bazaar with traditional food from the region. 

6:00 pm: Series of short Syrian films.

7:00 pm: featuring the renowned Syrian composer, singer and poet, Samih Choukeir (pictured below), as well as a performance by Khyam Allami on the oud. There will also be an audience with Ali Ferzat, the celebrated Syrian political cartoonist. 

Venue: Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, London, W8 7NX.


Notes on artists


Samih Choukeir is a Syrian composer, singer and poet. In 1983, he released his first album, Liman Oughany, and he has since toured Arab and European countries. He composed "Ya Heyf" (What a Shame) only one month after the uprising began in Deraa’, and the first song to become a theme for the Syrian pro-democracy activists. Choukeir has sung predominantly about the Israeli military occupation of Palestine and most notably put to music the poems of the late Palestinian award-winning poet Mahmoud Darwish. He was a guest of honour at the 47th anniversary of the Palestinian revolution, Paris in January. 

Ali Ferzat is a celebrated Syrian cartoonist who was awarded the 2011 Press Freedom Prize by Reporters Without Borders and Le Monde. For denouncing the corruption and abuses of Bashar Al-Assad’s rule, he was attacked in August by masked gunmen, who broke his hands as a warning. He has been nominated for Index on Censorship's 2012 award for artists, filmmakers and writers whose work asserts artistic freedom and battles against repression and injustice.

Khyam Allami was born in Damascus, Syria to Iraqi parents in 1981, and is now based in London. He took up the ‘ūd (or Oud) in 2004 and has already been on the cover of the UK’s Froots Magazine. In 2010 his dedication and hard work was recognised nationally when he became the first recipient of the prestigious World Routes Academy scholarship from BBC Radio 3.


Other events at the Reel Festival include


Thursday 15 March

  • 7:00 pm – Reel Syria in association with Frontline, screening of Syrian documentary film, A Flood in Ba’ath Country by Omar Amiralay as part of DoxBox Global Day. Q&A with Syrian Director Reem Ali.  £10/£8 (Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, W2 1QJ)

Friday 16 March

  • 5:00-7:00 pm – Literary panel discussion and readings – Culture Under Fire: Creative resistance in Syria. Join some of Syria's best known authors, artists and poets for a discussion of cultural repression and resistance. Featuring: novelist, Manhal Alsarraj, novelist, Mamdouh Azzam, musician Steve Chandra Savale, academic, Donatella Della Ratta.
  • 8.30-10pm – Screening of Syrian film(s) + Q&A

Free entry (Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3GA)

Sunday 18 March

  • 1:00 pm – Bill Drummond – SURROUND in Damascus, a piece of work created for Syria in 2011 by legendary artist and musician Bill Drummond, will now take place in exile in London. 100 volunteers are needed; all will become members of The 17, Bill Drummond's international choir.

To take part, please email

Ali Ferzat was attacked in August by masked gunmen, who broke his hands as a warning

Share this article

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters