WOMEX 23 Wraps Up On A High Note In A Coruña, Galicia, Spain.
The 29th edition of WOMEX successfully concluded yesterday in A Coruña's landmark building, Teatro Colón, ending with a standing ovation for a room-resonating performance by BCUC, reminding us that the power of music transcends borders and the politics of social conflict. The event brought together artists, music professionals, and enthusiasts from around the world for 5 days packed with networking, performances, discussions, films and more. The audience was a true reflection of the global nature of WOMEX, with attendees from every corner of the world, highlighting the event's commitment to celebrating diversity.
The final Awards ceremony was a fitting closing marked by an enthralling and uplifting performance by Johannesburg-based renowned Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (BCUC for short), who received the prestigious WOMEX Artist Award for 2023; the closing ceremony also honoured the achievements of On The Move, who received the WOMEX 23 Professional Excellence Award, and also celebrated the independent recording industry with the 20 Top Labels of the Year presentation.
This year's culturally and musically diverse event concluded with 2750 music professionals (incluing 220 performing artists) from 105 countries, hosted more than 60 artist showcases spread across seven stages, and 18 music-based documentaries. 96 speakers and mentors participated in the conference sessions, and delegates attended the trade fair with 703 exhibiting companies with more than 250 stands and a radio studio on-site.
The gathering of cultures and music sectors lies at the heart of WOMEX. Once again, the event provided an unparalleled platform for networking, connecting artists with industry professionals, record labels, booking agents, and festival organizers, fostering collaborations and new opportunities. Diversity and inclusivity again took centre stage where crucial current discussions developed, encouraging new ideas and partnerships. As with every edition, there was a strong regional presence.
Paul Duhaney (Africa Oye), as the laudator for BCUC shared: "This is a band (BCUC) which defies being pigeonholed. Drawing inspiration from ritualistic music and ancestral war songs, their performances are an attack on the senses in the best kind of way...blending soul, funk, trance, gospel, and hip-hop, into a sound they describe themselves as ‘afropsychedelia’."
Balazs Weyer (Hangvető), as the laudator for On-The-Move shared: "The movement of people, the circulation of music, the encounters of musicians and music lovers, our songs and their audiences are what created this colourful and creative universe, this blend of cultures, identities, and melodies. So we owe a lot to it...Artistic mobility for me first of all is that - creating chances and opening routes to look into the eye of the other, look into the eye of other cultures, confirm their existence and create that invisible treaty of mutual responsibility. I know your song, so I know you."
WOMEX 23 A Coruña: Recap
The WOMEX 23 opening programme on Wednesday, 25 October 2023, Resounding Picasso, was the perfect start to this year's edition. Over the past five days, the daytime venue, Palexco, was buzzing with music enthusiasts, professionals and artists from all corners of the world, connecting, discussing, networking and making the most of their attendance. The conversations encompassed a broad spectrum of pressing issues, challenges, and current affairs.
Topics ranged from the intersection of music and migration to technology and AI. The discussions explored Indigenous languages and examined strategies for promoting accessibility and inclusivity within the music industry, the pivotal role of women, nonbinary gender, and ethnic minorities within the arts, among many other compelling subjects.
The city centre of A Coruña was transformed into a bustling musical haven with an impressive array of genres to explore. As diverse and culturally rich as ever, the music and artists travelled from around the globe, from South Korea to Argentina, La Réunion to Serbia, and everywhere in between. The late-night 'Club Summit' featured underground global dance styles presented by DJs and music producers.
The film programme took place in the historic Filmoteca de Galicia and highlighted the creative minds of the filmmakers, exploring artistic projects and backgrounds through a vibrant selection of 18 documentaries, including new releases, features, and short films.
WOMEX 23 A Coruña: Overview
2,750 professionals (including 220 performing artists) from 105 countries representing 1,385 companies. 1,010 event promoters. 570 labels, publishers and distributors. 460 governmental, educational and other institutions. 770 individual booking agents, 700 managers and 320 producers. 260 national and international journalists. A bustling Trade Fair with 703 exhibiting companies from 58 countries more than 250 stands. More than 60 showcase acts with 220 musicians representing 45 countries on 7 stages. 96 speakers from 45 countries in 18 Conferences, 9 Networking, 6 Mentoring Sessions, and 3 Associated Presentations. The 21st anniversary of the Film programme, featuring a hand-picked selection of 18 music documentaries. The Opening concert ‘Resounding Picasso'. Two WOMEX Awards honouring BCUC from South Africa; and On the Move, based in Belgium. WOMEX Academy 2023: taking place online and on-site with partners such as the Goethe-Institut Senegal, the Katapult Programme from Armenia, and the Chinese delegation of SEWEM. WOMEX is a partner in several European projects: SEWEM (Sino-European Women Entrepreneurs in Music), Upbeat (the European showcase platform for World Music), and MOST (Bridge to Balkan Music). The WOMEX Radio Studio, in partnership with EBU, NRK (Norway) and RTVE Radio & Televisión Española
Announcing The WOMEX 23 Award Recipients
The WOMEX Awards are an annual celebration recognising and honouring outstanding global music achievements internationally. This accolade acknowledges musical excellence, social impact, commercial success, political significance, and lifetime achievements, making it a comprehensive recognition. Since its inception in 1999, the list of impressive award recipients has continued to grow, highlighting the immense talent and dedication within the global music community. The upcoming 2023 edition of WOMEX is thrilled to announce the addition of two extraordinary recipients for the coveted Artist and Professional Excellence Awards.
As the WOMEX team eagerly anticipates the upcoming event, they are proud to continue their tradition of celebrating exceptional talent and dedication in the global music community. The awards not only commend the past achievements of artists and professionals but also inspire and encourage a new generation of musicians and advocates to push the boundaries of music, creativity, and positive social impact.
The WOMEX Artist Award
The Artist Award pays tribute to the exceptional accomplishments of an individual artist or a musical group. It celebrates those who display unparalleled mastery of musical craft, embody artistic distinction, demonstrate dynamism and creativity, and utilise music as a potent medium for positive change. The recipients of this esteemed award represent a diverse range of musical genres and cultural backgrounds, with past recipients including luminaries such as Calypso Rose from Trinidad & Tobago, Cheikh Lô from Senegal, Mariza from Portugal, Oumou Sangaré from Mali, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan from Pakistan, Andy Palacio from Belize, the Kronos Quartet from the USA, Kayhan Kalhor from Iran/USA, among many others.
BCUC will receive the WOMEX 23 Artist Award
Based in Soweto, Johannesburg, Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (BCUC for short) epitomise the plurality of South Africa: their music reflects all the people around them, and they sing in all eleven of the country’s official languages. Their explosive live energy takes influence from hip-hop, rock, funk, gospel and Afrobeat, as well as from indigenous spiritual practices.
With their all-embracing musical philosophy, BCUC are inherently political. Their songs are shot through with political messages and lessons. They hold high their values and social responsibilities while being unafraid to criticise the wrongs around them.
For their dedication to their music, their people and their country; for embodying the strength, unity and progress proudly proclaimed in their band name; and for their sheer ability to raise any roof, it is with pleasure that BCUC are the recipients of the WOMEX 23 Artist Award.
The WOMEX Professional Excellence Award
The Professional Excellence Award recognises outstanding achievements by an individual, group, or organisation in music. This accolade celebrates musical excellence, cultural significance, advocacy, activism, lifetime contributions, and commercial success without compromising artistic integrity. Past recipients of this prestigious award include Global Music Match from manywhere, l’Atelier des Artistes en Exil from France, Julie's Bicycle from the UK, and Festival au Désert from Mali, all of whom have made profound contributions to the global music landscape.
On The Move will receive the WOMEX 23 Professional Excellence Award
A network and online platform that connects cultural workers of all disciplines with support, information and avenues to international mobility, On The Move takes many forms: extensive guides to institutions and opportunities in territories across the world; global listings of open project calls; mentoring schemes; data-driven research and analysis; and events, including their annual forum.
The heart of On The Move’s mission is the democratisation of international art: by sharing knowledge and tools, it ensures that arts do not become the sole reserve of the powerful and privileged.
For the global music scene and the wider arts ecosystem, mobility is not a luxury, but a necessity. In their commitment to providing this invaluable resource for artists and cultural professionals, On The Move opens the world to artists of all stripes. For this reason, we are delighted that On The Move is the recipient of the WOMEX 23 Award for Professional Excellence.
WOMEX Travels To Manchester For The 30th Anniversary Edition In 2024
WOMEX is gearing up to celebrate its 30th edition in Manchester, UK, next October. Set to take place from October 23 to 27, 2024, this marks the debut of WOMEX in Manchester and the third edition in the UK, with its last editions being hosted in Cardiff, Wales, in 2013 and Gateshead/Newcastle in 2005.
Choosing Manchester as the destination for WOMEX's 30th edition is a testament to the city's vibrant cultural heritage and role as a dynamic hub for the global music industry. Manchester's rich history of innovation, iconic music scene, and passionate community of artists and music enthusiasts make it an ideal host for this milestone event.
With Manchester Music City at its helm, Manchester's bid was led by the city council, with partners Brighter Sound and English Folk Expo, along with additional support from Arts Council England, British Council, Horizons and Marketing Manchester.
The WOMEX event will take place at venues in the heart of the city centre - with Manchester Central hosting the main daytime conference and trade fair, and venues including Aviva Studios, Albert Hall, Bridgewater Hall, and O2 Ritz all set to host live music showcases, alongside a programme of international films at HOME.
Photo Credits: (1) Womex (unknown/website); (2) Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (BCUC), (4) Elephant Sessions, (7) Symbio (by Jacob Crawfurd); (3) Cocanha, (5) Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (BCUC) (by Eric van Nieuwland); (6) Loccisano – De Carolis (by Yannis Psathas).