It is not unusual for youth, and especially for multicultural youth, to feel as if their voices aren’t being heard, but a number of organisations in Brisbane are encouraging Australia’s multicultural youth not just to speak out, but to express their creative sides.
One such initiative runs from a West End warehouse venue called Side Show.
It’s called Voices of Colour, and is an organisation co-founded by poet Anisa Nandaula, along with fellow Brisbane residents Alaa Osman and Jonathan Sri.
It is known as an environment where people of all backgrounds and ethnicities can share their stories and perspectives in an open mic environment.
Ms Nandaula said anyone could share at the open mic nights, which now draw more than 150 audience members every month.
“We give artists in diaspora a kind space to share their work,” she said.
Some performers rap about their lives living in Brisbane, others perform poems on issues that range from mental health to arriving in Australia from war-torn countries.
What the performers have in common is that they are willing to be vulnerable, sharing a part of themselves with a non-judgemental and accepting audience.
Ms Nandaula said it was hard to express her voice in predominately white spaces and to be the “token black person” at competitions, including the Australian National Slam Poetry Finals in 2016, where she placed second.
“If no one is going to let us into their spaces, we’ll create our own,” she said.
And that plan has ultimately worked.
Up and coming Logan-based rap group the Barefoot Boys has been getting its start at Voices of Colour, in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
Tanzanian-born Griffith university student Beckah Amani has been singing and performing her poetry with Voices of Colour since April this year and said she found it helped her express her artistic voice.
“These are very unique platforms that give people of colour the opportunity to creatively share their talent,” Ms Amani said.
“I think that it’s hard… to get well connected into the industry,” she said.
Not only has Ms Amani recently launched a single from her upcoming EP, but she also performs a variety of gigs such as at Griffith University Market Days, sharing her unique voice and personal experiences through her music.
In addition to her work with Voices of Colour, Ms Amani has been in collaboration with Brisbane initiative A+ African Creative Hub since August 2018, performing her music at their fashion shows.
“Being involved in these programs has taught me that you sometimes have to create your own opportunities, that you need to invest in yourself,” she said.
Brisbane businessman Samsun Joseph said he began A+ African Creative Hub as a way for African artists, designers and musicians to collaborate on projects and events that exhibited their talents.
Mr Joseph was born in South Sudan, spent his childhood in Egypt, and moved to Australia when he was 14.
“I’ve got a huge passion for helping others and inspiring others, and bringing the best out of people,” Mr Joseph said.
A+ Creative Hub began six years ago, and it has been growing ever since.
So far they have facilitated six fashion shows, along with two music events and several networking nights, where they work with individual artists to improve their work.
All events help fund future projects by A+ African Creative Hub.
“The idea grew into having a platform to market and advertise African creativity, mostly in Brisbane, in [the] hopes that it will grow and become something big,” Mr Joseph said.
“It’s about letting young Africans know there are no limits to what they can achieve as long as they have an idea of where they want to be,” he said.
The hub’s latest project is a family-friendly bar and restaurant in Moorooka where African artists and creatives can collaborate and work on projects.
Mr Joseph said their plan for the venue had been delayed, but the aim was to open this year.
He said they hoped to have more venues opened in the near future.
Mr Joseph said these venues would be spaces for ethnically diverse artists, designers and models to meet and collaborate on various projects.
“There’s some amazing work out there that we just need to discover,” he said.