“We humans can express ourselves and communicate, but this fire is nothing to do with the animals. Yet they are suffering so much and we’re the cause,” says Queanbeyan rapper, artist and writer Omar Musa about the motivation for his fundraising event on Thursday night.
Musa will host ‘Riverside Rhythms!’ at the Hive in Queanbeyan, a night of music and poetry to raise funds for WIRES, the Australian wildlife rescue organisation. The event has been pulled together at speed and with great generosity from the local arts community.
Omar had already been down at the Queanbeyan Showgrounds, talking to the people who are helping with fire relief from across the community.
“It’s weird because this is both an intensely political issue in many ways, but also one that crosses all the usual divisions,” he says.
“The bushfire barbecue people are down there helping out with Vinnies and the Red Cross. The local Sikh community and Muslim community are involved. It’s easy to feel helpless in such a huge disaster, but one cause for hope is how we’ve banded together as local communities to help each other.”
The fundraiser idea was prompted by a Facebook fan who asked for some music therapy for the people here in Queanbeyan and Canberra who have come up from the coast, fleeing the fires.
Omar called in some favours from a bunch of local musicians and artists including performance poet CJ Bowerbird, Voice finalist Lucy Sugerman, Chris Endrey, Cathy Diver and Eden Plenty. He’ll both host the event and perform himself.
In addition to the music and words, there will also be art: Omar is exhibiting his own woodblock prints and a bunch of friends who work through Megalo studios will also have their work on show.
All proceeds and sales from the evening will go to WIRES, who are desperate for help after being inundated with calls for assistance. In December alone, the wildlife rescue service received an unprecedented 20,000 calls for assistance due to bushfires, well before the current South East crisis struck.
“We need to mobilise our community in a bigger way,” Omar says. “We are seeing that maybe we can effect change around climate change. We’re getting powers that be to change their minds and act differently.
“All of us realise this is a tipping point. We need to do something and get our hands dirty, and we need to help each other.”
Riverside Rhythms! will be held at The Hive (274 Crawford St, Queanbeyan) on Thursday, 9 January from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. Entry is $10 at the door or via Eventbrite for $12 (places are limited). Entry is free for under 12s. Food and drink is available at The Hive.