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For this 9th Edition of ICAF, we are proud to present “The Sound of Change”

The time that has passed since the last, planned ICAF of 2020 has caused long-lasting, far-reaching rifts across the globe. For some, it has ground their known realities of before to a halt, offering time for pause and reflection, and a significant change of pace. Yet for many more, this same period has only increased existing hardships, tensions, suffering, precarity, and loss, in forms that will last far beyond the pandemic itself. We have been posed questions that relate individually, societally, organisationally and within and between our communities, that will be carried with us into the future. In this sense, as Arundhati Roy states, the pandemic presents “a portal, a gateway between one world and the next”. 

Many people working in community arts in very different contexts around the globe share the belief that inclusive, participatory arts can contribute to positive change, and transformation in the world. Yet this is an ongoing journey of evolution and transition that is not always linear or predictable in its route. Such transformations can be recognised from large scale to small scale, and in both tangible and intangible forms. This said, all great participatory artworks and processes, regardless of their size, scale, or form, require us to think more deeply and richly about how we share and connect within our communities, as well as the ways in which we form knowledge, build bridges, cross borders, and dig for layers of experience, meaning and perspective beyond our own, as part of a shifting axis.  

For the next ICAF we are particularly curious to explore how such a complex journey of transition can be encapsulated through the medium of sound. Sound demonstrates as equal an importance for embodying the role of the listener, as it does the speaker. Sound is a communicator, a way of empathising, sharing, and expressing. Sound can be a song, a protest, a chant, or complete silence. It can be opera, music, meditation, clapping, percussion, or symphony. It can be footsteps, traffic, or a voice. It is life in action; felt sensorially and bodily. Sound is a vehicle to bring people and contexts togetherto communicate with one another within our communities, and between our communities, and to connect across borders, boundaries, and bridges.Through its many, diverse forms, sound offers the option to whisper or to shout, to activate our voices and tell our stories, or make space through silence for those who are not heard, as we embark upon our journeys of evolution and transition, towards positive change.