To support TALKING STICKS global mission of furthering arts education, Arthur Lipner has arranged partnerships with a number of key non-profit educational organizations in Ghana, Mexico and Brazil. In this way, TALKING STICKS will continue to contribute to the arts and cultural growth of the countries in which it was filmed. A portion of all donations and proceeds of the film will be earmarked to fund the three projects described below. Collectively, these three Outreach Partnerships pinpoint specific projects which have a common mission as portrayed in TALKING STICKS. It is hoped that through the international visibility and audience of TALKING STICKS, these important organizations will be supported in ways that are otherwise not possible.

Those interested in making donations may earmark your donation to a specific organization by indicating so below. Otherwise, funds will be distributed equally to these three efforts. In countries such as Mexico, Ghana and Brazil, a few US $'s and Euros go a very long way. This is an exciting dimension of TALKING STICKS - to build an international community of viewers and supporters like you who can share in the growth of the arts across the globe!

Below are the three organizations currently in the TALKING STICKS community, and a brief description of each. We thank you for the bottom of our hearts for your generous donation.

GHANA - Dagara Music Center, Medie, Ghana
BRAZIL - Instituto Baccarelli, Sao Paulo, Brazil
MEXICO - Marimba Museum, Chiapas, Mexico

GHANA - Dagara Music Center, Medie, Ghana

About 45 minutes outside of the bustling city of Ghanaian capital, Accra, is the Dagara Music Centre (DMC). DMC was founded and is run by Master xylophonist and drummer Bernard Woma, one of the main characters in TALKING STICKS. As seen in TALKING STICKS, Mr. Woma is a gifted musician who is also articulate, charismatic and extremely passionate about music and cultural arts. An important international force and proponent of the Ghanaian xylophone ("gyil"), and former lead xylophonist with The National Dance Company of Ghana, Bernard is on track to becoming a distinguished Arts Ambassador to Ghana. DMC presents hands-on music and dance studies to several hundred students annually. Drawn from around the globe, students live in the Center's housing in the village for one-week intervals. Many of the registrants are attending or teaching at universities. Many colleges have made repeat visits to DMC with new crops of students, often led by professors or Masters/PhD candidates. The traditions of Bernard's tribe, the Dagara people, are the focal point for the study of music and dance at DMC.

DMC holds a special place in the warm hearts of the 550 residents in Bernard's village of Medie. Residents live without many of the modern conveniences most people take for granted, in what would appear to Westerners to be poverty. Indoor plumbing, medical and information resources are all but non-existent. However, there is a very perceptible beauty to the simplicity of life. Deep communication and understanding between each other, and nature, seemed to be at a much higher level than what one observes in highly-industrialized cultures. All the visitors have come to experience the local culture by spending blocks of weeks at the DMC. With them, they bring their own cultures, languages, dress and ways of being. The foreigners and villagers mix freely together, sharing experiences and loving touches across age, language and racial diversity.

DMC is the place where things happen. It is an outdoor concert space, a dance place, an employer, a place for meals for a few hungry kids. It has a vibrant, artistic, "can-do" energy to it 24/365. To know that this all is happening due to Ghanaian culture and the tireless efforts of Mr. Woma presents important pride and life experiences for the community, a sense of tradition and belonging for villagers.

In the late 90's Mr. Woma began fundraising to bring clean drinking water to his Dagara tribe in the village of Hiineteng in Upper West region of Ghana. Pictures of that piping project can be found at Mr. Woma has recently teamed up with the US ambassador of Ghana in an effort to bring computers to his village. As a youngster, Mr. Woma and only one other of his dozens of siblings were allowed to attend school. They walked five miles per day each way to get there, and felt it a rare honor. He now is working towards a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at Univ. of Indiana/Bloomington, returning to Ghana each Winter and Summer season while running DMC year-round via email and cell phone.

Current fundraising efforts are aimed at adding a desperately needed building to DMC. The building site is shown in the photo to the right. It will go to the right of the existing white building. The new building will be used to centralize the xylophone-making and tuning processes, as well as house the administrative operations which currently reside in Mr. Woma's crowded bedroom. It will be simple. Since no HVAC or insulation is necessary, it will be inexpensive to build. The TALKING STICKS community will be a proud contributor to this building effort.


Instituto Baccarelli

Instituto Baccarelli was formed in 1996 by Brazilian conductor Silvio Baccarelli, from the ashes of a devastating fire in Sao Paolo's Heliopolis favela - the second-largest slum in the South American continent. From an original intake of 36 string players, the school is now home to nearly 2,500 students. Its patron is the Indian conductor Zubin Mehta. Today, it is among the world's best youth orchestras. The group toured outside of Brazil (Europe) for the first time in 2010.

Life in the orchestra is about a dedication to classes and practicing. Maintaining that kind of discipline is especially hard when you're a teenager. But that's just what the members of Brazilian youth orchestra Sinfonica Heliopolis have been doing day in and day out for the last five years. The 13 to 25-year-old musicians take deep pleasure in music through focus and discipline. Establishing the center in an impoverished area didn't change just the perspectives of the young musicians involved, it changed the entire community.

22-year-old violinist Pedro Almeida Andrade began his musical training at the Instituto Baccarelli in 2000. Now, along with a young man named Dan Rafael Lira Tolomoni, he shares the position of first violin - the highest in the orchestra's hierarchy. As a Heliopolis resident, Pedro has seen stark changes in his community. "Culture and music - those things help people get through tough times. When you see a bunch of kids wearing the institute's t-shirt and rushing through the streets of the slum to go to practice, it's impossible not to be moved. The parents support them, and so does the community - it's like everyone is pulling together."

During my 14th concert tour to Brazil August, 2011, I visited Executive Director Edilson Venturelli and toured the facilities. I was surprised to walk into a workshop by trombonist Delfayo Marsalis (Wynton's brother). During my trips throughout the country I have seen many favela shanty-towns on the hills, shacks made of cardboard and skimpy plywood held together by dangling electric wires, surrounded by impoverished children often living amongst violence and drug gangs. To see favela kids buzzing around the building excited and inspired about life because of music is an emotional experience. There is an electrifying energy of goodwill amongst the staff I met. Mr. Venturelli asked me, "What do you want in exchange for the support from your film?" I replied, "Nothing." He then asked me, "Are you an angel?". I said, "No, you are! What you are doing here is the actual mission statement of my life's work."

TALKING STICKS funding will be used to assist in the purchase of a new marimba and mallets for the students. I plan to return to the Institute to dedicate time to teaching and performing with the students in the next few years. At the time of this writing, IB is building a new website and has only a home page available at, along with a facebook page.

Chiapas, MEXICO

Marimba Museum

African percussion travelled out of Africa during the African diaspora. Drums ended up mostly in the Caribbean and Brazil, while xylophone traditions made their way to Central America. The epicenter is an area of Southern Mexico called Chiapas – which was formerly within the national border of Guatemala. As such, the Marimba is the national instrument of Guatemala. The most famous family of marimba makers and performers in this historic lineage of Mexican marimba is the Nandayapa family. Zeferino Nandayapa was a Mexican folk and classical marimba player who began making marimbas out of his home in Chiapas 100 years ago. His grandson, Carlos Nandayapa, is interviewed by Arthur in TALKING STICKS in this same home - in which he was born.

Most Central and Latin American towns and village have parks which serve as a cultural hub and meeting point. I have done much travelling in this part of the world, experiencing these parks throughout Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil and Peru. From music and other types of shows to food, family gatherings to kids hanging out, folkloric styles of dress to the latest fashion trends, the parks are where it's happening socially and culturally. What is the name of the park in central Chiapas? Marimba Park!

During my first visit to Chiapas, I was invited to represent the United States at the VIth annual Marimba Festival. While at that time my tour schedule did not allow me to perform at Marimba Park, that opportunity came several years later during the filming of TALKING STICKS. As a marimba devotee, I was astonished and delighted to find myself at a park named Marimba Park, and on the main square I found the Marimba Museum.

Mexican marimbas are works of hand-crafted art made mostly by family-based companies. Each marimba carries its own artistic signature. This signature consists primarily of different colored woods, layered to make a sandwich of sorts, which are then cut in cross sections and used as decorative trim along the front of the instruments. These designs can be very elaborate and beautiful (see photo on right). Makers can be identified by this artwork alone. These patterns were visible in an extraordinary variety at the Marimba Museum.

Marimbas come in many sizes, shapes and flavors. The variety in construction is equally fantastic. For example, some marimbas are semi-circles which surround the player. Others hang on the player's neck and wrap around the body. There many different approaches to resonators (the tubes below the bars which amplify the bar's frequencies), some buzzing due to small holes covered with pig intestine or other animal material. Interesting that the same buzzing sound is achieved in the Ghanaian xylophones by using a spider egg casing.

The Marimba Museum is nothing out of the ordinary in Chiapas. But for me, the instruments sitting alone without players were a silent chorus of sound, history and beauty. I wanted to spend the night there alone, to hear their stories, to feel the vibes of these instruments whose origins date back perhaps 10,000 years or more.

When I returned to the US I started searching for the Marimba Museum website but found nothing. I called my contact at the Chiapas Ministry of Culture who partially sponsored our filming and confirmed this. On the flight home, I had thought of how many children around the world encounter Orff xylophones and metallophones in elementary school. For those without pianos or other musical instruments in their households, mallet percussion is likely their first instrument! I can imagine what it would be like for all these kids to see the ancestors of their instruments residing in the Marimba Museum, to see their craftsmanship and beauty, to hear them played! This experience would connect the classroom instruments with tradition and history, and perhaps nurture the creativity of kids' creativity.

TALKING STICKS donations will be directed towards helping make the Marimba Museum website a reality. This funding will be administered by the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, located at the Mexican Consulate in midtown Manhattan.

Thank you for considering a generous donation to these organizations that support the arts, culture and education for both youth and adults alike. We and the countries receiving your support are deeply grateful and will acknowledge however and whenever possible!