‘Hip Hop for Tolerance’ is a cultural exchange project that took place in Moscow and Voronezh between 4th and 10th of March 2015. It was possible to run the project thanks to the financial support of the Swedish Institute (SI), Creative Force Russia. Ekaterina Kalinina and Liudmila Voronova, the leaders of ‘Hip Hop for Tolerance’ believed that the initiative will help to to strengthen cross-cultural cooperation, international and national networks and promote gender-, cultural-, ethnic-, sexual-, and other equalities, as well as mutual understanding and tolerance. A helpful hand was given by Emelie Enlund, Johanna Fröjd, Tommy Molitor, Jacob Kimvall and Kenneth Seremet who were part of the Swedish team traveling to Russia.

Eager to see our project in action:

Link to the project’s Facebook page in Russian — Hip Hop for Tolerance

The aim of the project was to address the growing nationalist and racist sentiments all over Europe by giving voice to those who do not have access to the means of communication and enable the process of exchanging opinions. Without being able to show young people that it is possible to live in multicultural societies and learn from each other, we will never be able to build safe democratic world, where human rights are the main priority.

The reason why we have chosen Hip Hop is because Hip hop is a cultural and music philosophy, which promotes tolerance, mutual understanding and social inclusion. It gives voice to those who otherwise are left in a silent periphery. Hip hop challenges the existing cultural stereotypes, and uses creative methods to strengthen social and cultural cohesion. With regard to the 2013 cars burning and youth protests in the neighborhoods of Stockholm, raise of open racist discourses, anti-Semitism and islamofobia in Sweden, as well as violence towards immigrant groups and aggressive nationalist rhetoric in Russia, our goal was to open up a dialogue offering hip hop as a platform for cross-cultural communication.

That is why, the project activities were targeting mainly those youngsters, who usually end up outside of the legal and social framework and do not have access to the means of individual expression. We engaged young hip hop artists and social workers active in Russia and in Sweden. They are the main actors working with different youth groups (both marginalized and mainstream). They act as role models for many young people and therefore are opinion-makers and early adopters of new cultural and political trends. These people have a possibility to disseminate their knowledge and opinions to a larger group of audience not only in their own region but across regions as well. Establishing network with them means reaching out to a broader audience and sending our message about tolerance further.

Having said this, the project has helped to establish a sustainable network between the Swedish and Russian actors, to enable the exchange of expertise, and in the long run it will prepare a ground for a bigger international festival with the same objectives — promotion of gender equality, tolerance and mutual understanding, which will include several countries in the Baltic Sea region. We also aim at creating a practice based research network, which will file a research project on the best practices in the field of cultural activities.

We want to give special thanks to our partners who made the realization of the project possible — Public Regional organisation DA EXIT (Russia); Dancers and instructors from Swedish dance groups JUCK, De La Vibe, No Limits Sweden.