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Jani Lang 27 October 2021

In the ward of Glasgow Southside Central, Ando Glaso Collective has just been chosen as ‘Artist in Residence’ the second time. The ‘Creative Communities: Artists in Residence’ programme run by Glasgow Life aims to spice up the cultural and sport life of Glasgow wards every year, and the Roma content makes a unique and exciting addition to its diverse palette. 

“Despite the numerous obstacles raised by the Covid-19 pandemic, we proudly present the ‘Taraful din Glasgow’ music video we managed to co-produce with Transylvanian Roma musicians in the famous ‘Taraf’ style as part of the programme. The word ‘taraf’ is a loan word from Turkish and Roma use it to refer to a troupe of Transylvanian Roma musicians that will typically include instruments like cello, violin, tambourine, accordion and the Romanian bagpipes called cimpoi however a locally popular instrument will also be included such as a clarinet, a trumpet or a flute. Governmental restrictions made the production extremely challenging, but with our passionate enthusiasm to create music together and to share values of Roma culture we finally got there.”, said Janos Lang, founder of Ando Glaso Roma Charity in Glasgow regarding project results. 

The Scottish Roma charity’s Artist in Residence’ (AIR) project, planned prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, intended to gather Roma artists residing in the Southside Central of Glasgow from the Romanian, Slovak, Czech, Hungarian and other East European communities to explore each other’s cultural heritage through working and creating together, while inviting the wider public to participate or simply enjoy the work of the group. The constant lockdowns and social distancing restrictions however prevented face to face sessions, taking away a crucial element of the project. 

To overcome difficulties caused by the Covid-19 lockdown, project participants decided to collaborate through online meetings and development sessions. Following the initial virtual sessions, Roma artists created a number of recordings in isolation from each other and by the end of the project the group managed to produce the “Taraful din Glasgow'' video as well as many other recordings and videos. The music video ‘Muro shavo’ (‘my son’) performed by David Balogh in Glasgow was part of the Roma artists project produced by Ando Glaso earlier in 2021 when it was first chosen as Artist in Residence in Glasgow. The music video can also be viewed in this blog. Ando Glaso Collective - Muro Shavo - YouTube

Janos Lang, Ando Glaso Roma Charity founder also added: “While working digitally felt like a setback initially, it also helped us to collaborate with partner organisations such as Romano Lav, Community Renewal, Cryptic, and also built new relationships further afield with organisations such as the Roma Support Group in London, Luton Roma Trust and European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture in Berlin. The interest for our project amongst the local Roma communities has grown significantly and now there is a large pool of people who would like to continue and participate.” The project allowed Ando Glaso Roma Charity to learn from local Roma artists about the devastating effect of cultural deprivation of Roma communities. The AIR project proved to Ando Glaso and its partners how important it is to engage Roma people in cultural activities and how such projects can empower their marginalised communities, especially during challenging times such as the pandemic.