There are territories that are currently recognised to have harsh living conditions or to be facing challenging political situations. Take Palestine, it’s a region where rave and other music events might not be expected to be part of the residential cultural life. I was impressed to learn that the Palestine Music Conference (PMX) a showcase event has been hosted annually in Ramallah, West Bank since 2017. PMX aims to bring Palestinian artists and international industry professionals together, in an effort to build mutually beneficial relationships and develop valuable music industry networking opportunities in Palestine.
ESNS-Exchange had the pleasure to ask Celia Palau Lodge, part of the Management Board of this Showcase Festival, a few questions about this event. Palau Lodge sheds light on how music continues to be created and developed, despite the challenges or circumstances people face, and proudly shares: “PMX has played a key role in supporting Palestinian music culture. We have put Palestinian music on the global stage.”
Putting on a music conference in Palestine rather seems to be a peace mission instead of one that purely is driven by business motives, doesn't it?
PMX is a charity organisation and doesn’t profit from any of its activities, however, it’s our mission to help create a sustainable local music ecosystem that can eventually drive local and international business.
We started the annual music conference/showcase festival in Ramallah in 2017 as a mission to showcase the music scene in Palestine, after realising that there was no such international event hosted in the occupied territories. We’ve successfully hosted four showcase editions in Ramallah, three events in Gaza throughout the pandemic, and have been expanding our reach to work on the local scene as a whole through PMO (Palestine Music Office). It’s important for PMX/PMO to create a profitable environment for local musicians and the industry. We want to see artists grow and be able to make a living out of their artistry.
The political situation in the Middle East is kind of a humanistic misery. The death toll is high, the social situation is a mess and fundamentalistic mindsets counteract progressive developments in this part of the world to make things better. So, where is the fun for PMX?
It is an extremely frustrating environment, but learning to live with the local reality is a huge reminder that these conditions should not be normalised. Music has always been a universal language. Through music we’ve built a community of artists and international delegates who are in very close contact, looking for opportunities and mentoring each other in a very supportive way. Seeing the progress of so many artists is what keeps us motivated. Since 2017 (and with a pandemic) we’ve successfully seen Palestinian artists sign seven record deals, 15 bands booked for international tours and festivals, four mentorship programs, 30 panels and workshops, over 150 international delegates have come to the West Bank and over 14,000 people have come to PMX. Bear in mind, it’s a relatively small scene and an apartheid state!
During the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent attacks on Gaza, PMX has also been involved in organising children’s events/concerts to help bring some normality after the attacks. For us it’s important that children create some positive memories that cannot be “bombed” or erased from their day to day. Throughout our three events, we had a total of 9,000 children and their families attend, 40 Palestinian artist showcases and 180 team members involved.
PMX has played a key role in supporting Palestinian music culture. We have put Palestinian music on the global stage. We even played a fundamental role in helping the city of Ramallah to become designated as one of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Networks. It’s never easy and reality shifts day-to-day which is why we can only try to focus on the successes and take one step at a time.
PMX has been suspended since 2019. Besides the event itself, do you currently have other ongoing activities to support the music community in Palestine?