Since 2014, the Global Livingston Institute (GLI) has hosted free concerts in East Africa centered around culture sharing, public health, and economic development. Over the past 4 years, tens of thousands of people have attended the shows and more than 16,000 have received a free HIV test, among other health services.
What has kept this initiative so authentic over the years is that it is centered around music and the arts. Over 500 artists representing Uganda, Rwanda, and the United States have performed at the concerts. Additionally, more than 20 transnational songs have been recorded and performed live.
Working with local health providers and in-country partners, we’ve learned that if you’re going to bring
thousands of people together for a free concert, why not also provide free health services? In addition to HIV testing, our concert venues have also offered free comprehensive health screenings, cervical cancer screenings, condom distribution, family planning counseling, mental health trainings, and more.
The live music industry plays a major role in economies all across the world. Our concerts, set in urban and rural locations, directly invest thousands of dollars into local economies. In 2017 alone, we estimate that our concerts had an economic impact to the tune of over $650,000 in Uganda.
Working with local partners in Uganda and Rwanda, here are our two major music initiatives:
iKnow Concert Series
In 2014, a group of extraordinary and eclectic musicians from Colorado, New Orleans and Nashville came together for the First Annual iKnow Concert on Lake Bunyonyi in Southern Uganda. Performing with a cadre of talented and wild local musicians and rising stars on the East Africa music scene, more than 4,000 people turned out for the free concert and a record 826 received free HIV testing. The concept of this idea and innovation behind this free concert is to create HIV awareness and prevention in communities that are sometimes very hard to reach.
Planning the first festival in partnership with the U.S. Mission to Uganda and Reach-a-Hand Uganda, we learned that when you invite thousands of people to be a part of something special, some amazing things can happen. We tested people and provided services to people who rarely ever have an opportunity to access health services anywhere.
Between 2014 and 2016, with the generous help of the U.S. Mission to Uganda and AIDS Healthcare Foundation, we expanded to a second city (Lira, Uganda), more than 38,000 people attended the concerts, 7,500 received a free HIV test. More than 100 performers played on stage, hundreds of thousands of condoms were distributed, and thousands of dollars were invested directly into local communities.
So we did it even bigger in 2017. We expanded to a third city (Masaka, Uganda). A combined 44,000 people attended the three concerts and were exposed to HIV prevention messages; 8,089 people received a free HIV test; over 1 million people were reached through social media; and countless more watched coverage of the concerts live on NBS, a national television network in Uganda. More than 230,000 condoms were distributed, and other health services such as cervical cancer screenings and family planning services were offered.
This means in just four years, 79,000 people have attended our free concerts and over 15,500 people have received a free HIV test!
As the concert series continues to grow in partnership with our partners at Reach-a-Hand Uganda, we look forward to providing year round medical services, spreading the same positive public health message and economic impact to the people of Uganda.
The iKnow Concert Series is one of the largest events that happens in these communities each year. It brings the community together through music and the arts, promotes public health, economic development and culture sharing. It requires collaboration with local organizations, clinics and musical artists. And the feedback from the people of Uganda has been overwhelmingly positive.
In 2018, the concerts will take place in Lira, Uganda (August 25), Masaka, Uganda (August 29), and Kabale, Uganda (September 1)! For more information or to become one of our cultural ambassadors and experience it yourself, please e-mail email@example.com!
Tour du Rwanda Concert Series
In 2017, this initiative expanded into the beautiful country of Rwanda! Working with the Rwandan Cycling Federation, Rwandan Ministry of Health, the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, and the Colorado Classic, we produced our first ever show at the end of the 2017 Tour du Rwanda.
More than 8,000 people attended the show, 500 received a free HIV test, and nearly 600 people received free comprehensive health screenings, among other services.
In 2018, we plan to expand this initiative to a second city alongside the cycling tour and create more robust partnerships between cyclists, musicians, and health professionals between Rwanda and Colorado. The dates for the 2018 Tour du Rwanda are August 5-12.
If you’re interested in becoming one of our cultural ambassadors for this experiences, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org!