This page has links to related news, past and current projects linked with Afghanistan.

DONATE HERE to assist Musicians/Artists at Risk

Since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban August 2015 many people have responded to do whatever they can to assist those at risk. Right now in Afghanistan there are musicians and artists hiding in fear of their lives. If they are involved in any creative activity, even listening to music, they can be murdered by the current regime. The fact that this is happening in the 21st century is horrendous. They are our brothers and sisters in the artistic community.


KEFAYA & ELAHA SOROOR (Belfast International Arts Festival)


Northern Ireland's link with Afghanistan began through a project runner up as Project of The Year with Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) and young musicians in Northern Ireland including musicians from Traditional Arts Partnership South Armagh. On 13th December after many evacuation efforts 273 from ANIM faculty arrived in Portugal to be resettled there.

Beyond Skin are working with International Campign to For Afghanistan's Musiians (ICFAM) as a founding member. We are combining fundraising and distribution in parallel with exit efforts for international resettlement. ICFAM continue to lobby Governments to act to save musicians and artists at risk.
International   UK  A series of concerts are planned. Northern Ireland announced soon.

Musician/Artists at Risk Resettlement Scheme Northern Ireland webpage   Email for more information.

UK Campaign to Protect Afghan Musicians website

Youth Day Concert 2021

Made to Parade Podcast 22-11-21

Afganistan National Instiitute of Music Reunites 17-11-21

Women's Work Festival 18-06-21

"In Gham-e-be Haya" Press Release 13-04-21

"Arsala Khan" Black Star Liner Press Release 30-01-21

#IAmMyVoice Campaign 10-03-21

Together in Music Press Release 13-10-20

"Arsala Khan" (Music Video)

"In Gham-e-be Haya" (music video)

Women's Work Festival - I Am My Song

Youth4Peace In conversation with Taranom

Listen to Arasla Khan (Black Star Liner mix) on bandcamp

Listen to Arasla Khan (Black Star Liner mix) with photoslide on youtube

Art on the streets in Kabul

Northern Ireland Afghanistan Music Collaboration Project

(Shorlisted UK 2021 Project of The Year)

An international partnership developed by Beyond Skin and Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), home of the Afghan Women’s Orchestra also known as Ensemble Zohra.

As part of the programme current & former students from ANIM are collaborating with young female musicians in Northern Ireland including members of Traditonal Arts Partnership.
The project is supported by WOMAD Foundation, Arts Council Northern Ireland Lottery Programme, Community Relations Council, Factor Law and individual donors. To date the associate organisations/companies in the consortium include Yallaa, Unique New Adventure Ltd, Traditional Arts Partnership & 3FortyFive Films.

The Story to the connection with Afghanistan

In 2016 Darren Ferguson (founder & CEO Beyond Skin) and Dr Ahmad Sarmast (founder and director of Afghanistan National Institute of Music) met in Bogota Colombia sharing a talk at a conference titled ‘music to unlearn war” The conference was in partnership with Batuta Foundation and British Council. Darren & Ahmad stayed in touch with a Northern Ireland visit always in the conversation.

In September 2017 Beyond Skin invited Dr Sarmast’s to Northern Ireland. His visit included guest speaker at Mount Stewart conversations festival visiting various youth groups and meeting other members of the #ArtsDialogue collective. an international intergenerational team of musicians, artists, producers, writers & peace activists.

Zohra History

In 1996, the Taliban banned music in Aghanistan. Those found playing or selling it were imprisoned and tortured with many musicians fleeing the country. During the 30-year civil war, cultural institutions were decimated.

In 2001 from exile in Australia, musicologist Ahmad Sarmast started negotiating the rebuilding of music education with the Afghan government. Returning to Kabul, he inaugurated the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) in 2010 under the patronage of the Ministry of Education. ANIM provides a dynamic, challenging, and safe learning environment for all students regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religious sect, or socio-economic circumstances. ANIM focus especially on supporting the most disadvantaged children in Afghanistan – orphans, street-working vendors and girls.

In 2014, a young trumpeter called Meena asked Dr Sarmast if she and her friends could form an all-girl ensemble. They wanted to play music on their own and develop their own style of playing and repertoire.  Since one of ANIM’s great focuses is girls’ education, Dr Sarmast was thrilled by the idea. So, the Afghan Women’s Orchestra (AKA Ensemble Zohra) was born. It is the first ever all – female ensemble in the history of Afghanistan.