artivism = art + activism
Artivism is about using the arts to create positive social change.
It’s about building soul-deep motivation by activating hearts as well as minds.
That’s how we were able to end female genital mutilation in four Maasai villages. We didn’t go in and tell people that FGM was barbaric, primitive and outdated.
We found women and men who were passionate about ending FGM, and loved to sing.
We facilitated training for them and empowered them to create their own songs about FGM and HIV/AIDS. Then we let them loose in each other’s villages to sing the change that they wanted to see in the world.
Our community choirs convinced more than 100 FGM practitioners to give up their tools.
SINGING THE CHANGES IN CHURCHES
Since moving back to the UK, I’ve been focusing my artivism on equality and diversity.
I’m creating worship songs, Sacred Artivism songs, Christmas carols and Easter songs for churches and chaplaincies that want to be more inclusive of women, BME people, and LGBTQ+ and non-binary people. All my songs are fully customisable: the wording can be modified to fit your context, and I can help you to learn the original melodies or fit the lyrics to tunes that your choir or worship group already knows.
My Sacred Artivism work runs parallel with my Songwork, which can help people to use the power of song to build courage and confidence, overcome grief and trauma, or learn the skills of empathy and deep listening – in small groups or through online programs.
Here are some tasters of the worship songs, Sacred Artivism songs and carols:
It’s not about the names we give ourselves,
It’s not about the names we give our love,
It’s not about the stories that we tell…
It’s all the little ways we live our love.
It’s not about the labels that we wear,
It’s not about a colour or a tribe,
It’s not about a doctrine or a creed:
It’s all about the Light we can’t describe!
For we are the ones who have heard Your call,
And we are the ones who will give our all,
Even when all we have left to give
is the fragments of our hearts…
(From ‘The Love Beyond All Names’, © Gemma Burford 2017)
I wonder what we might attempt if we knew we could not fail…
Where would we go, what would we do, if we were not afraid?
What would we dream, what would we try?
Where would we climb: how far, how high?
Where would we go, what would we do, if we were not afraid?
When will we take that leap of faith? We’ve waited long enough…
When will we understand that we are more than strong enough?
When will we hear that inner voice that waits to guide us,
To light the flame of hope and trust deep down inside us?
When will we find that perfect love that casts out fear?
When will we realise, when will we realise,
Your perfect Love is always, always here?
(From `Leap of Faith’, © Gemma Burford 2017)
It’s going to take more than ‘sending love and light’ for us to heal,
It’s going to take more than virtual hugs to make this justice real,
It’s going to take more than dreams
(Of course, we know, Mr. King, dreams are a start…)
And it’s going to take more than prayer,
It’s going to take more than prayer,
To change this nation’s heart!
All right, I won’t turn away when you remind me
That our houses were built from your grandfathers’ bones;
I’ll hold my nerve and breathe into the knowledge
That your grandmothers’ tears soaked each one of these stones,
That the coins in our pockets are stolen,
Though we always believed they were earned,
And our ancestors rose like a phoenix from the ashes
Of the fire where your ancestors were burned…
(From ‘More Than Prayer’, © Gemma Burford 2017)
Who am I, who are you? Together, who are we?
Hand in hand, can we find another way to be?
When we blame, shame and judge, we’re already in hell,
But the Way is love, we know that very well!
When we both go within, there’s a new way to begin,
Could this new way… be the true way?
Well, if we learn each other’s ways, I think that could be a start;
We’ll see the God that we both praise is found in every heart,
And we’re all enrolled in Life’s great University,
If I’m teaching you, well, you’re also teaching me;
And when we learn to use our intuition,
We can see… in fact, we share a mission!
(From ‘My Way Or The Highway”, © Gemma Burford 2017)
There is a healer who lives among us,
Breaking the shackles of our pain and fear,
Letting us know that we’re not our stories,
Being the Presence that is always here…
There is a healer who leads us onwards,
Challenging us when we’re convinced we’re right,
And when we think we’ve found all the answers,
Breaking us down until we find the Light.
And what we hear is:
People of the Rainbow, you are treasured, nothing is wrong with your design,
People of the Rainbow, you are treasured; know that I’m yours and you are mine,
Know you’re always welcome at my table, I will never turn away from you;
When you think you’re lost, that’s when you’ll find me,
Where there are cracks, my light shines through.
There is a peace that we can’t imagine,
There is a Light beyond the lights we’ve known,
There is a power that still unites us,
Helps us remember that we’re not alone;
Soon all our gifts will be interwoven,
There is a treasure that they all reveal,
There is a future we’ll build together,
There is a dream that we are making real.
(From ‘You Are Treasured’, © Gemma Burford 2017)
Let us stand against oppression: there are people pushed aside,
Their opinions overlooked and their humanity denied.
Let us listen to those who struggle, let us answer them when they call,
That’s the path You came to show us; that’s the power in us all.
Fill us with your all-embracing light,
Bind us together, let our hearts unite,
Touch us with your power as we gather in this place,
With a love that knows no gender, creed or race.
(From ‘The Path You Came To Show Us’, © Gemma Burford 2017)
Two thousand years and the earth’s still turning,
Two thousand years, are we still the same?
Still there’s hate: why aren’t we learning?
Cities and villages still destroyed in flame…
Do you believe this is what we’re really meant for?
Do you believe this is how it’s got to be?
Or could there be a way, is there something else we were sent for?
Could the way of the heart maybe start with you and me?
Glory to God! Glory to God! Angels proclaim the Saviour’s birth!
Peace and goodwill! Peace and goodwill! Peace and goodwill to all on Earth!
Is this the year when we’ll learn to follow?
Is this the year when we’ll learn to lead?
Aren’t we all shaping tomorrow?
Dare we believe that in thought and word and deed?
Is there a chance of a brand new Christmas story?
Is there a way we can make this wish come true?
Could we all build the Kingdom, and share its power and glory?
Could the story that matters the most be what we do?
(From ‘The Story That Matters Most’, © Gemma Burford 2017)
EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY WORKSHOPS
I’m also developing workshops for UK schools, charities, churches and universities to help them understand the implications of the 2010 Equality Act, build communities that are genuinely inclusive and welcoming, eradicate discrimination and harassment, and help people with and without protected characteristics to learn from each other.
Because it’s our differences that make our communities beautiful.
If you’d like to know more about the Equality and Diversity programs that I offer, or book a free 30-minute online Discovery Session to hear excerpts from some of the songs and explore how you could use them in your church or chaplaincy, please fill out the form below.