Nepal| Last Monday, 16 April, in Sekha, a small mountain village in the heart of the Nepalese Himalaya, the first Love Tomorrow Music & Arts School was opened. The date was highly symbolic because it was also the first official day of school in Nepal following the Nepalese New Year that is traditionally celebrated on 14 April. The music school is the result of a unique collaboration between the Tomorrowland festival and its Love Tomorrow Foundation with the Belgian NGO CUNINA. The school was festively opened by Sophie Vangheel, the founder-president and general manager of CUNINA and Felix de Laet, a.k.a. DJ Lost Frequencies, who were there to represent Tomorrowland and the 'People of Tomorrow'. At the school, which is fully integrated into the existing Cunina Boarding School, over 300children sponsored by CUNINA godparents will have the chance to explore their creativity and learn music and dance.
The school, which has been given a distinctive, original design, covers over 400 m² and features four spacious classrooms and a central covered atrium. The classes will be taught by two fulltime music teachers as part of the standard curriculum for the children and young people. They will learn to make music on guitar, flute and keyboard, but also on traditional Nepalese musical instruments such as the Sarangi (stringed instrument) and the Madal (drum).
By building the school, the Love Tomorrow Foundation wants to give children and young people the opportunity to express themselves creatively. Love Tomorrow and CUNINA believe that high-quality education is the key to a better future, but that this should not be limited to learning to read and write alone. The ability to creatively express themselves through music and dance forms an integral part of the personal development and education of a child or young person. Building this first Love Tomorrow Music & Arts School is only a first step for the Foundation, which has the ambition, in the coming years, to open more of these schools of music and art on different continents, for children and young people who need it the most.
DJ Lost Frequencies
"I first came into contact with the Love Tomorrow Foundation and their plans to build a music school in Nepal at Tomorrowland 2016. I was instantly enthusiastic about the project. That's why I was very happy that they asked me to travel to Nepal with them to officially open the school on behalf of Tomorrowland and all People of Tomorrow."
"My personal story aligns perfectly with this project. At home, I was given every opportunity and that included time and space for creativity. I chose to express this in making music and learning to play instruments. Without those opportunities, I would never have become a musician/dj. That's why I think it's fantastic that the children here in Sekha can now have that opportunity as well!"
100% funded by the 'People of Tomorrow'
The construction of this first Love Tomorrow Music & Arts School has been funded for 100% by the visitors to Tomorrowland. At the last two editions of the festival, guests were offered various ways of making a contribution. For example, when you 'activate' the bracelet and add 'Pearls' to it (via the cashless payment system) you may freely choose to donate 2 Pearls to the Foundation and thus, to building the school. This is equivalent to the value of 1 drink (beer or soft drink). You can also donate Pearls at any time during the festival. For each Tomorrowland flag that is purchased in the shops at the festival and via thewebshop, a donation of €5,- is contributed to the Foundation. This also offers a way for non-visitors to the festival to make a contribution. What's more, anyone who receives a free ticket through a partner or sponsor will have to pay a one-time contribution to the Foundation in exchange. The proceeds of the Secret Resto, the exclusive restaurant built into the mainstage that seats 12 people, also go to the Foundation.
A unique design with respect for local traditions
The school building can certainly be considered a unique project. Not only for the collaboration between Love Tomorrow and Cunina, but also for the design. It is a round structure that has been built using a maximum amount of local materials. The round design is inspired by the philosophy and ambition of bringing people together and creating unity. With a surface area of over 400M², the school accommodates four fully equipped classrooms and a large covered atrium in the centre, which can be used as a central gathering place or space for performances. The space is bathed in natural light thanks to the Plexiglas skylight at the top of the roof. What's more, the doors can also be completely opened out onto the central grassy field that offers space for an audience, thus converting the school into the stage and the 'backstage'.
The school was designed by the Hasselt-based architectural firmUAUcollectiv: "In designing the school, it was important that it could be built entirely by local contractors, in the context of a small village in the heart of the Nepalese Himalaya, far away from all major cities," explains Joris Diliën, architect and partner at UAUcollectiv. "We wanted to be able to harness the skills of the craftsmen there and use local materials as much as possible. The red ochre bricks and the thatched roof, made according to local traditions and woven on-site, are good examples of this. Nepal has an incredibly rich history in terms of architecture, as the many temples in and around the capital city of Kathmandu attest. Unfortunately, the political and economic situation in the past few decades has meant that there has been very little activity in architecture in recent years. Through the building's round design, the use of local and traditional building materials and the involvement of the local residents, we hope that this school can help inspire renewed interest and pride in architecture. For our firm it has certainly been an extraordinary experience that has taught us a lot," concludes Joris Diliën.
Nepal, a logical choice for the first school
This first Love Tomorrow Music & Arts School is built on the grounds of the existing Cunina Boarding School in Sekha, Nepal. Before Cunina built the school in 2009, the children had no access to education and the closest the school was3 hours away on foot. Just like in the rest of Nepal the government invests little to nothing in education and the children and young people are often illiterate. In 2009, the non-profit Cunina began building a new school there. Thanks to the support of their Belgian godparents, the children receive high-quality education in English. There are even many new families who have settled in Sekha in order to live closer to the school. This has generated an entire new community around the school.
The site currently houses a preschool, primary school and secondary school. The secondary school is brand-new and gives the children the opportunity to complete a full school career. This is the unique location that Love Tomorrow and CUNINA chose for building the Love Tomorrow Music & Arts School. To ensure a strong future for this special project, there is already a need for new Cunina godparents to sponsor children, in order to support the next generation in Nepal by allowing them access to enrichment at school. You can sponsor a child for as little as €30 per month.
Sophie Vangheel – founder of CUNINA
"Over two years ago, when Manu and Michiel Beers, the creators and organisers behind Tomorrowland, became sponsors of Cunina, I invited them to a personal meeting," says Sophie Vangheel, founder of the non-profit Cunina."We soon discovered that we share the same values and what's more, that we had the same dream... Building a music school for vulnerable children and young people. That's why I immediately suggested that they join forces with us to build a music school like this on the 'Roof of the World'. After all, at the time, we were already underway with planning a significant expansion of our Cunina Boarding School in Sekha, Nepal, with the addition of a high school. Creating a music school fit perfectly with our plan. Now, two years later, I am extremely proud that we have been able to achieve this and to say that we have built the first Love Tomorrow Music & Arts School'.