Ahmad Joudeh (1990) was born and raised in the Palestinian refugee camp, Yarmouk in Damascus, Syria. As a young man his dream was always to be a professional dancer. Despite opposition from some family members and society in general, he managed to gain a position with the Enana Dance Theatre, Syria’s main dance company, where he worked between 2006 and 2016.
In 2014 he starred in the Arabian version of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. Between 2014 and 2016 Ahmad was choreographer for dance festivals at the Opera House of Syria in Damascus and went on to graduate from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in 2016.
Norwegian-Argentinean Alexandra Archetti Stølen has been festival director of Oslo World Music Festival since 2006. Through Oslo World’s partnership with Beirut & Beyond from the onset, Alexandra played an active role in supporting and developing Beirut & Beyond. She is also the initiator of #Vårt Nabolag, a festival in asylum centers in Norway, and has been the president of the European Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals since 2011. For many years, Archetti Stølen was known as one of Norway’s best tango dancers.
Cato Litangen is head of Mimeta, a Norwegian agency in the field of culture sector development. Strategic core is to support those that work on behalf of arts and culture communities – to foster organisational structures and raise concerns on artistic rights, free participation and development of the sector. Mimeta is present in partnerships mainly in Middle East and Africa. During the last two years, Mimeta has organized a seminar during Arendalsuka in Norway, highlighting socially engaged arts practises. The issue is also put forward within an arts research initiative with residencies as platform, where the first partnership is with L´Art Rue in Tunisia. Mimeta was established in 2008.
Dina El Wedidi is a young Egyptian talent makes her debut on a Norwegian label in 2014. She has managed to make her mark as a young Egyptian sing-songwriter who combines fiery contemporary sounds with her roots in Egyptian vocal music. Dina is a stage artist who masters the art of storytelling and acting as well as music. When “the Arabian spring” erupted in 2011 she had a big hit with one of the songs for the musical “Khalina Nehlam” (Let us dream). She wants to preserve the musical performance traditions of Egyptian women. This ambition has brought her into contact with the Zar group Mazaher, which is also featured on two tracks on her new CD. Zar is an old, ritual form of music which is generally performed by women. Dina El Wedidi collaborates with Kirkelig Kulturverksted (KKV) in Norway, who has made it an important aim to support artists from the Middle East in developing their careers and receives funding to support this from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Elling Tjønneland is a political scientist and senior researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway. He is working on development issues in Africa with a current main focus on peace and security, media and telecommunications, and the global aid architecture. He has led numerous reviews and evaluations commissioned by Norwegian and other development aid agencies. This includes several missions to assess cooperation and partnerships in several sectors, including civil society, higher education and research and covering several themes within the cultural sector (music, museums, literature, heritage sities).
Geoliane studied law alongside theatre and performing arts at the Lebanese University and was trained in contemporary dance. She has worked as a performer, exterior eye and assistant director with local and international artists, between 2006 and 2012. She has collaborated with several international organisations on mapping the Lebanese cultural scene and identifying valuable actors and projects, thus creating opportunities for international exchange and development. Geoliane curated the professional meeting of Us, the moon & the Neighbours Festival 2015 (LB) co-directed Spring Festival 2016 (LB) and organised the IETM Satellite meeting in Beirut on freedom of expression among others. She is currently cooperation manager for the Middle East at Moussem (BE) and international development manager at Beirut & Beyond International Music Festival (LB) and Jens Bjerregaard /Aurora Borealis (DK).
Guro Kleveland is Head of Communications at Kulturtanken – Arts for Young Audiences Norway. She worked in communications and as strategic adviser at Rikskonsertene - Concerts Norway since 2001, and has initiated and managed several projects that enhanced Concerts Norway's role as an influencer on the public agenda. She holds a cand. philol. degree in British literature, and has a background as freelance journalist, writer, and translator. Kleveland is also chairwoman of the association Balansekunst/Art of Balance board. The association counts some 45 different Norwegian organisations that work towards continuous progress with regards to gender equality in music and the arts. Art of Balance focuses on practical work for equality of status, increasing of awareness, in concrete measures and efforts, mapping of the field, recruitment, mentorship, and education. Why is gender equality in music and the arts important? Because gender equality leads to richer arts.
Inger Dirdal is Managing Director of NORCODE and has been with the organization since 2013. Previously the Managing Director of Music Export Norway from its founding in 2000, Inger’s professional experience includes Norwegian companies Kirkelig Kulturverksted 1994-2000 (record company) and H. Aschehoug & Co. 1988-1994 (book publisher).
Judy Ogana is currently the General Manager & Programmes Coordinator of the Performing and Visual Arts Centre, popularly known as The GoDown Arts Centre. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, The GoDown is a nonprofit multi-disciplinary arts facility providing subsidized space for Kenyan artists and presenting public artistic programs for local audiences. The Centre has been in operation for over a decade and has fast become a leading organization supporting the arts, developing independent artists across multiple art forms and contributing to the establishment of a robust arts and culture sector in the East Africa region.
Navid is a Bboy and uses the dance aspect of the HipHop culture to express himself. Born in Iran and is a citizen of Norway. Navid is the 2016/2017 Norwegian champion in his dance style and is Internationally known for his hard work of sharing some of the real values of the HipHop culture within his performances, documentaries and inspirational lectures. Through years of traveling, competing and performing in different parts of the world, Navid takes with him his experiences of cultures, habits, struggles and stories and expresses them on stage for his audience. After being one of the finalists in the Norwegian version of the tv show “So You Think You Can Dance” and 2nd place in “Norway´s Got Talent”, Navid traveled the country with The Norwegian Touring Theatre (Riksteatret) with his performance show “Each One Teach One”. This show became a success in Norway.
Peter Rorvik is the former Secretary-General of Arterial Network, an Africa-wide NGO engaged in building networks, advocacy, research, cultural policy, information dissemination, and training programmes in the cultural and creative sectors across the continent. Previously, Rorvik was for 13 years the director of the Centre for Creative Arts and its four annual festivals - the Durban International Film Festival, Time of the Writer, JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, and Poetry Africa, and was also production manager and programmer for Awesome Africa and Splashy Fen music festivals. Rorvik’s experience includes advocacy, Pan-African and international cooperation, capacity-building, intercultural exchange and audience development.
Radio presenter/producer at NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation). Music producer at concerts, live recordings and studio productions. Producer and artistic coordinator of numerous CD productions. Founder and leader of Nedland Kultur, a company initiating, coordinating and organizing numerous international cultural collaboration projects, music productions, concert/festival performances, copyright projects, recording studio and digitization projects. Author of books, theatre plays and song lyrics.
Solveig is a PhD candidate in music sociology and development at the University of Agder, Norway. She is also Senior Advisor in Kulturtanken // Arts for Young Audiences Norway, where she was in charge of musical activities in Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka from 2008-2016. Before joining Kulturtanken, Solveig studied and worked in West Africa for several years.
Stella Mwangi is a rapper, songwriter, composer, and a creative music director, well known for songs such as «Lookie Lookie», «Biashara», «Koolio» and «Haba Haba». In Norway, Stella is famous in both hip hop and pop music, and in several African countries she is well known within a multitude of genres; hip hop, rap, afropop, reggae and dance. She is also founder of the brand Vaa Ki Afrika; Scandinavian fashion according to traditional African aesthetics – a project that confirms her role as a dedicated social entrepreneur.
Thomas Walle is Research coordinator and Senior curator at Norsk Folkemuseum (The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History). He has been working on issues related to cultural diversity, gender and migration, and has curated exhibitions on these topics. He holds a PhD in anthropology, and his dissertation on masculinities among migrant men (2010) argued for a strategic decoupling of ethnicity from gender in research. Walle was member of the Equality Commission (2010-2012), delivering two Official Reports on gender equality in Norway, and he has later criticized the government for non-action. He is member of the advocacy group for gender equality to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. His latest research interest has been that of unspoken privilege based on gender and class.