Voice of Roma (VOR), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1999, creates and promotes educational and cultural arts projects for and about Roma ("Gypsies"), and raises awareness of human rights issues faced by Roma today. The cultural arts traditions created and developed by the Roma over centuries of migration (usually forced) include a phenomenal array of music and dance forms. VOR specializes in producing events that counteract both romanticized and negative myths about "Gypsies", using Romani music and dance to fight prejudice & ignorance, break down barriers and create a sense of community.
In 2003, VOR launched its "Romani Routes" artist-representation program in order to address certain issues faced by Romani musicians and, by extension, Roma in general. Although Romani music has been universally admired as extraordinary, the musicians themselves are not properly respected. Hype-driven, myth-feeding publicity for "Gypsy" music encourages stereotyping. Non-Romani bands claim "Gypsy" music as their own, inadvertently or purposely exploiting the music, musicians, and culture. Fair credit, recognition, proper compensation, and decent treatment have been the exception rather than the norm. Romani Routes works to counteract these trends by managing and presenting Romani artists respectfully.
In 2004, VOR-Romani Routes produced its first nationwide tour of 38 concerts and workshops with the world-famous Esma Redzepova and Ensemble Teodosievski. Two more U.S. tours followed with Romani musicians from the Balkans: the first KAL U.S. tour in 2006 (18 concerts and workshops), and the Yuri Yunakov Romani Wedding Band tour in 2007 (28 concerts and workshops). VOR also produces the California Herdeljezi Festival, now in its twelfth year, and six annual International Roma Day celebrations, featuring such internationally-renowned Romani artists as Rumen Shopov (Bulgaria), Vadim Kolpakov (Russia), and Amanet (Macedonia/New York). VOR-Romani Routes, with its emphasis on Romani ownership of Romani arts, is now the most prominent Romani-operated and -oriented arts management organization in the world.
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VOR - Romani Routes
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