Archive for October, 2011

Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 30th 2011
10 Downing Street

Ben Kaye ~ Immigration Minister Damian Green ~ HTF Chairman Anthony Steen at 10 Downing Street

Ben Kaye visits 10 Downing Street: Ben Kaye ~ Immigration Minister Damian Green ~ HTF Chairman Anthony Steen

Amidst the grandeur of Whitehall, you could easily miss Downing Street. Without the Cenotaph as a nearby guide, this rather unobtrusive street is marked only by black railings and the ubiquitous London ‘Bobby’.

Inside the gates however, things are rather different; security abounds and one can’t help but feel that the uniformed, armed Officers on display are only the tip of the iceberg. Expecting to see the famous number ‘10’ on the black door I scanned the street and was somewhat surprised when I couldn’t see it; my confusion was due to the fact that the door to No. 10 was already open.

I have to say that I’ve been to some tough interviews in my time, but I don’t think I have ever been so nervous as I crossed that threshold into what I can only describe as a slightly surreal film set. A few more formalities and then up the famous staircase lined with portraits of previous Prime Ministers. I barely had time to muse that originally the term ‘Prime Minister’ was in fact a derogatory one before being greeted by Anthony Steen, Baroness Butler Schloss and others.

Then to work. Casting aside my incredulity at finding myself in such a situation, I had to remember that I was there to represent Anya17, Adam Gorb, and our wonderful volunteers Anna, Stu, Lauren and Hayley, all of whom have worked so hard on Anya17. Having previously had the opportunity to talk to Peter Bone MP (Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking) and many others at The House of Lords, I was determined to use my time effectively at No. 10 to spread the message about using art to raise awareness of the issues.

It was a great opportunity therefore to discuss Anya17 with figures as diverse as Immigration Minister Damian Green MP, representatives from the Italian Senate and with UK and international charities.

Then came the speeches. Human Trafficking Foundation Chairman Anthony Steen outlined the steps needed to be taken by Government, and this was followed by a strong condemnation of Human Trafficking and a commitment by Prime Minister, David Cameron, to eradicate modern day Slavery from the UK.

A short time then followed to use my presence to best advantage before leaving the door of No. 10 behind me and hurrying off to Kings Cross for a train to Edinburgh. It was quite a day!

I hope to bring you news shortly of the Anya17 auditions at the RNCM on October 31st, as well as the forthcoming ‘Unchosen’ film festival in London on November 1st. As to the possibility of the performance of Anya17 in Strasbourg courtesy of the UK’s Presidency of The Council of Europe, I may have to wait until I have more space!

Until then…

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 26th 2011
House of Lords

Ben Kaye ~ Human Trafficking Foundation Chairman Anthony Steen ~ Adam Gorb ~ House of Lords

It was a great honour indeed for Adam Gorb and I to be invited to The House of Lords on October 17th to represent Anya17 at the inaugural HTF Media Awards. Never having visited Parliament before, the sense of occasion was even more heightened as we were ushered past the thousands of tourists, through the private gates and into this extraordinary centre of power, declaimed by its extravagant, almost gothic architecture and interior restrained magnificence.

Neither Parliamentary film footage nor the ubiquitous London postcards could have prepared me for the scale or opulence of The Lords. Both Adam and I though spent our time wisely though, talking with many representatives from Human Trafficking Charities and political figures about Anya17, as well as listening to speeches from Trafficking victims and media figures.

Having seen so many ‘shots’ of The Houses of Parliament from across the river it was strange to see the London Eye and so many other new landmarks from the deeply historically-entrenched perspective of The Lords. Despite the radically-altered skyline I couldn’t help but be transported back to Pepys, the Great Fire and strangely enough the freezing of The Thames, together with its accompanying Chestnut sellers, braying their wares from behind glowing braziers on the ice – such is the lot of a poet!

From an Arts perspective I was absolutely bowled over by a truly extraordinary exhibition of charcoals by the Artist Rosalie Watkins, whose powerful work portrayed a Trafficking victim ‘Kira’. If you haven’t seen these utterly exceptional works of art then you absolutely MUST visit http://www.rosaliewatkins.co.uk/rosaliewatkins.co.uk/Human_Trafficking_Project.html

In essence though our presence at The Lords was an opportunity to rouse the media and raise awareness of Sex Trafficking in particular and more generally Human Trafficking in the UK. Could I therefore take this opportunity to thank Tamlin Vickers at the HTF for the invitation following our Award nomination. Press, BBC three regions TV and much other coverage swiftly followed, including an additional promise of coverage from BBC Radio 3.

My next blog will cover my visit to No. 10 Downing Street and the possibility of a performance in Strasbourg in April courtesy of Bob Walter MP and the UK’s Presidency of The Council of Europe.

Auditions for Anya17, (and filming) begin in just over a week, so I’ll no doubt be back in touch very soon!

Oh yes… Funding! To date we have received no funding whatsoever, so if you would like to help (and incidentally become the owner of the very ‘first’ T Shirt design before it changes in a few days time) please spend the equivalent of a couple of double mocca chocca chinos and you can say that you were in at the beginning! http://anya17.spreadshirt.co.uk

Please be aware that the back of the T Shirts contain sexually explicit content appropriate to the cause. For younger wearers I recommend the ‘Front Only’ option.

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Author: Hayley Chappell - Online Marketer
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October 18th 2011
Anti-Slavery Day: Writing for Justice

It’s all go in the Anya17 camp this week (Today is Anti-Slavery Day, we’re nominated for our first ever award from the Human Trafficking Foundation, Ben’s off to Number 10 and our brilliant T-Shirts have just launched). As the brand new online media manager, there’s nothing quite like being thrown in at the deep end!

I’m Hayley and barely two weeks ago I picked up the phone and spoke to Anna for the first time about the possibility of volunteering for Anya17 as their online media manager. A few days later and I found myself on the end of a phone to Ben, discussing ideas for this blog and our Twitter feed – and I hadn’t even agreed to volunteer at that point!

A country-loving southern living up in the industrial north of England, I found out about Anya17 through Sheffield based charity City Hearts, who work with victims of human trafficking to rehabilitate them and, where possible, reunite them with their families in their home countries. Through City Hearts, I’ve met women who have been trafficked to the UK to work in the sex industry. The thing that struck me most about them was this; they could be anyone. They could be me. They could be you. They have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and boyfriends. They are girls who, at one time or another, found themselves in what ended up being the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. (At this point I feel I should interject that both men and women can be victims of trafficking – the statistics are quite shocking – but the focus of Anya17 is that of the stories of the women trafficked for sex).

Speaking to Ben over the phone I could tell he was hugely passionate about giving these faceless, voiceless young women a platform to make their voice and their stories heard. What comes across – and I’m sure it’s more obvious in person – is his belief that even doing something, no matter how small, can make a difference.  And that’s ultimately why I agreed to be Anya17’s online media manager. Using my ability to blog, my unhealthy addiction to social media, and my journalist head to help raise a voice for these people and in some way, make a difference.

Over the next few months I hope we’ll build a large online following both interested in the opera and in raising awareness and fighting against this incredible injustice. I’m excited to see a more “traditional” art form, the opera, catapult a serious modern-day world issue into the public psyche and to the fore of the political arena.

Anya17, in my mind, is a story with many sides, told by many people. And this blog is where you’ll see them unfold.

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Author: Stu Jones - Graphic Designer
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October 16th 2011
Anya17 Artwork

Hi Everyone, I’m Stu and I’m responsible for creating the artwork for the Anya17 project.

Following on from the recent t-shirt launch I was going to start by telling the story behind the artwork, and follow it with an explanation of the more cryptic parts of the text on the reverse of the t-shirt.

However, before I do that I’d like to give a bit of background on my involvement in the project and the development of the visual side of things so far.

From the first time I spoke to Ben on the phone it was immediately apparent that he had a real passion for both the subject and the project. He talked at great length not only about the project but about the whole thing – the girls, the traffickers, the statistics and the horrendous reality of the situation for all those tricked into that life. All this was punctuated by some truly disturbing stories he had come across over the course of his research. By the end of the call I knew that I had to be involved. It was a combination of his passion, the great cause and his genuine trust and openness meaning I could really go to town with the artwork.

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Author: Anna Celeste Watson - Web Designer
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October 14th 2011
Anya17 T-Shirts Now Available

We are very pleased to announce that the official Anya17 t-shirts are now available to buy in the online shop on: http://anya17.spreadshirt.co.uk.

Currently available in Women’s Classic, Girlie Fit and Organic plus Men’s Classic and Organic – both with just the logo on the front or with optional back print.

You’ll have to wait for our designer Stu Jones to give you a bit more info on what the acronyms on the back design mean though, so keep ‘em peeled!!!…

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Author: Anna Celeste Watson - Web Designer
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October 14th 2011
Design for Change

I suppose its about time I introduced myself properly! I’m Anna, the Web Designer who will be creating the website to promote the amazing project that is Anya17. I am very proud to be working with my Partner Illustrator Stu Jones who created the stunningly beautiful yet provocative and disturbing logo!

Ben Kaye first rang me back in July about creating a logo, saying he had been recommended to me by someone I had never heard of and he then googled me by general location. To this day I am not sure whether it was me he was even supposed to call or if he got the wrong company, but either way I’m pretty sure it was fate! I hope that he certainly came to the right person as I have specifically been looking to get involved with more ethical and charity related web design projects, after all it must be every designers dream to do work for ‘good causes’ for the greater good of others.

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 13th 2011
United Nations

Ben Kaye from Anya17 meets Aranka and Syria from The United Nations (UN-GIFT) in London Oct 2011

It was wonderful to finally meet Siria and Aranka from UN.GIFT, with whom I had been liaising for so long before we had an informal get together this week in London. It was particularly poignant also to meet at the BFI Southbank, where the Composer Adam Gorb and I had so many meetings thrashing out the Opera.

Siria and Aranka had just flown over from Vienna on a very busy schedule indeed and were due to fly across the globe the next day, so it was great to catch up. UN.GIFT are about to launch (amongst many other things) a new Human Trafficking leaflet and would very much appreciate feedback from UK NGOs before publication, so if you don’t have their contact details then please do get in touch asap.

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 6th 2011
Invitation to No. 10 Downing Street

With the various musical collaborations I have been involved with over the past few years, some moments really stick in my mind. Hearing my words set to music for the very first time was a big one. JAM made it all come true for me at Southwark Cathedral with Paul Patterson’s ‘The Fifth Continent’ and I will never forget that first opportunity, nor that evening. JAM has a superb run of concerts touring Scotland this month by the way, so do visit http://www.jamconcert.org to find out more.

I have to admit (with a great sense of shame) that other highlights include the first BBC broadcasts and even being asked for my autograph for the first time. Very vain I know – but not easily forgotten – nor ever repeated! Better by far were the hugs I received from bereaved families at the ‘Eternal Voices’ concert last year for the fallen in Afghanistan, and hearing ‘Thoughts Scribbled on a Blank Wall’ at Westminster (again through JAM) was a pretty humbling experience.

Official praise is great too; perhaps the curse of writers everywhere. Two days ago an envelope landed on my doormat. It was an invitation to meet the Prime Minister at No. 10 Downing Street later this month in recognition of all that Adam Gorb, myself and the volunteers have done to bring this project to fruition.

With a budget of £0.00 and having to search for loose change between the sofa cushions just to travel to meetings, do the research etc. I may even have to shave for this one…

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 2nd 2011
Anya17 Nominated for Award!

It was a huge surprise when I heard that ‘Anya17’ has already been nominated for an award!

Despite the fact that the premiere of Anya17 is not until March 7th next year, the Libretto for the Opera has been circulating amongst the Charity community in the UK and abroad, and the result seems to have been a nomination for a HTF Media award at The House of Lords in October!

Let’s not get too excited here, because not only is there ‘many a slip twixt cup and lip’ but also some technicality over dates may make us ineligible both for the Awards for this year, and unfortunately for 2012, but the nomination itself is a great emotional boost to all of us who have worked so hard and for so long on this project – some since 2009. Without Adam Gorb, the RNCM, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Liverpool Hope University, Anna, Stu, Lauren, the UN, the supporting Charities, MPs, MEPs and the BBC, what we may have had here could have just have been a still-born dream.

Before I go into full ‘Awards Ceremony Mode’ therefore and start thanking my Agent (who doesn’t exist), my Mother (who definitely does) and my Deity (the Jury’s still out on that one), I would sincerely like to thank all of you for nurturing some nebulous genus of an idea and helped the project to get this far.

Surely the plaudits though must go to my hairdresser…

Well done everyone!

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