stories create value ::: 
The Dung Verei Festival 
Leweton Cultural Village, Banks Islands

Support needed for this year’s Dung Verei Cultural Festival

“Language is our identity. Language is our culture. Down deep in the ocean to the top of the mountains, language is our roots and connection. We have to understand our native language because that’s where our foundation is.”

Sandy Sur, Leweton Cultural Village

Dung Verei Vanuatu: GoFundMe 2021

There is an opportunity to support the ongoing cultural revival across the islands of Vanuatu by funding the Leweton Cultural Community’s work organizing the Dung Verei Festival (sound of the island), a local festival in Santo held the first weekend of October 2021. 

The festival brings together communities of the Torba Province and the Banks Islands in the North of Vanuatu. Vanuatu consists of many different island communities each with a unique wealth of kastom: stories, music, dance, food preparation and cultural practices such as carving, weaving and also the creation of local currencies. The festival is a real opportunity for creative demonstrations of cultural practices and for people to engage in dialogue and learning with other communities in a celebration of the many languages of the island.

The Go Fund Me is for folk who want to invest in community-rooted, transformative cultural work. A small investment of cash can be a massive contribution to this vital work with cultural heritage. 

Community Leader Sandy Sur is Manager of Leweton Cultural Experience and Women’s Water Music, based on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu. Sandy has been working on the organization of the Dung Verei Festival for the last three years.

Sandy Sur (Leweton Cultural Experience) and Shelley Darling (Loving Waters, World Unity Week) will be speaking on June 24th about the event at Dung-Verei ~ Pacific Island Water Dreaming  

Project leader: Sandy Sur
sandy at lewetonculturalcommunity dot com

The Dung Verei Festival 

photo: Gina Kaltipli, Further Arts
Delly and Sarah discovered a vital connection to the continuing practice of shell money production in the Solomon Islands on thier first journey recording shell money interviews. They also found a kinship connections between the Gaua community and the Solomon Islands community that was confirmed by Chief Polwyn. 

To support these connections becoming more visible we applied for funding for a small group of people from Gaua, representives from Santo and also the Solomon Islands to a meeting on the revival of shell money at the Dung Verei Festival, held in conjunction with TORBA Day (Oct 1-2). The opportunity to support space for communities from the more remote island of Ureparapara - custodians of a slightly different lineage of shell money production - as well as others from Vanua Lava, and Mota Lava to communicate around Shell Money practices is invaluable.

October’s Dung Verei Festival is a local celebration of performance and traditional customary activities known locally as kastom, such as music, dance, craft and shell money practices and food preparation. It is recognised as a key community meeting and one of the best opportunities for community workshops.

This year Sandy Sur is working hard on the organisation of the festival and a media team - led by Vanuatu media practioners from Further Arts - attend the meeting to record stories and create media. An invitation was also made to a delegation from the Tulalip community in the North West Pacific and WISN based in Hawaii towards creative connection and community co-design of value networks, but this is dependent on funding.

Ambae Evacuation
photo: Gina Kaltiplei, Further Arts

Ambae Evacution Coverage 

Photographer Gina Kaltiplei (Further Arts) and Kate Genevieve (Special Advisory Member Further Arts) combine for an article for the Independent in the UK, with support from the whole team, particularly Thomas Dick and Dely Roy Nalo. 

“ On Vanuatu, the activity of Manaro Vui, the volcano on the island of Ambae is raising the possibility of a wholesale evacuation of the island’s entire population from the island.

This is not only raising urgent questions of how these people could be re-located, housed and fed. It is also... raising the question of how the people of an island nation can preserve their culture when no longer living on the geographical area which for so long defined it.

Vanuatu is an island country where 280,000 people live and is made up of an archipelago of 83 islands. The Ambae residents number around 10,000. The activity of the Manaro volcano has produced thick ash and gas over the island, destroying crops and contaminating water supplies.

Summary Log of Project Posts: Prior 2018 
COP21, Paris 2015                                                                             photo: cascade network

Aug 2018

Dely and Thomas at Further Arts publish an illustrated essay: TEKS | Promoting & Safeguarding Biocultural Diversity Through the Arts in Northern Vanuatu.

Dely Roy Nalo, Thomas Dick
and team record a formal invitation to the Tulalip community from the Ureparapara community, the community displaced from Rowa, the main island known for producing shell money in the past. The Chief of the Ureparapara makes a general invitation on video inviting those interested in seeing the production of shell money to come to Ureparapara and Banks Islands to witness the practice of this cultural heritage. In Tommy’s words it is “a genuine standing invitation issued by a proud chief to all people”. It is not clear whether this invitation will be answered with real visits or whether ongoing connection will be facilitated through a digital exchange. The Ureparapara community create and gift a string of shell money to the Tulalip community that is sent by post to NW America and is then delivered by Maryka Paquette to the Tulalip community in the Pacific Northwest.   

The Cascade Network explores designing creative workshops on the islands, facilitated by Further Arts, that could bring together ni-Vanuatu values and traditional creative practice with experimental technology towards exploring methodologies for prototyping objects embedded with media and story and articulating the values that underpin a self-sovereign digital ni-Vanuatu archive.

July 2018 

Further Arts begin their documentation of the stories of Ambae. A technical plan is formulated towards immersive documentation of culture on Ambae (360 video and photogrammetry). 

Funds sought for a media team with expertise in immersive capture to support the Further Arts’ General Manager Vivien Obed and Vanuatu-based media practioners work with the Ambae community. Draft of MIT application logged: MIT application

1st May 2018

Permanent evacuation from Ambae reported.  Further Arts invited by the people’s Paramount Chief, Benuel Garae, the President of the Ambae Island Council of Chiefs, to document Ambae culture with the Ambae community as they leave the island.

>> Full Post

Shell Money:
from Vanuatu to NW America
2017 -2018

The first journey to make recordings of interviews with Som practitioners in 2017 was led by Dely, David and Tommy at Further Arts. It was documented by Gina and Liz with Maryka and Kate taking support and bridging roles. These interviews focused on the culture and practice of the specialised local currency called Som - Shell Money - and value in Vanuatu.

The work was initiated by the Tulalip Tribes of Washington with financial support from the Traditions Foundation. The Tulalip community have a rich cultural heritage related to shellfish in the Pacific Northwest of the US. The inspiration of the project was to support traditional shellfish practices in the South Pacific, to document traditional knowledge and practices and to foster community connections to shellfish resources and across communities.

The fund was awarded to Maryka Paquette and through Specialist Advisory Member at Further Arts, Kate Genevieve, and WISN, this initiative connected up to Dely’s work in Vanuatu and the work of Sarah Doyle.

This seed funding supported Delly leadership towards a first project aimed at sharing knowledge with the Tulalip Community in NW America. Delly at TEKS then made further invitation to work with these remote communities in Vanuatu as her work had uncovered a living network of shell money practitioners.

During this development phase international interest in the relationship between traditional/local currencies and crypto-technologies such as blockchain grows and Further Arts explores how these technologies could support sovereignty and cultural ownership through the Cascade community. 

Relationship building:
Global connections


Tracey Benson leads SCANZ Canberra and formed Trans-Art Alliance with collaborators as a network to support the growing creative collaboration between the communities in Santo, Vanauatu, artists and water networks.

A ceremony is held simultaneously betweeen groups in Vanuatu, Australia, Scotland, France, England and North America weaving relationships between cultural producers, technologists and creatives who share intention to grow the creative network.

The first evacuation of Ambae galvanised the network to shift from regular online meetings into a more active response with Sandy from Leweton Community and Shelley Darling organising shipments of water filters for the communities in Ambae.

Leweton Residency, Vanuatu
2016 - 2017

Foundational work with Further Arts and the Leweton Community in Santo. Kate Genevieve and Toby Gifford visit on an artist residency. Shooting and recording songs and story with 360 video techniques and binaural audio recording.

The residency work was exhibited with partners in Australia and at the NIMES festival under the name of “Trust”.  Various audio listening and immersive communication workshops ran in support of the project and to connect with Sound networks for acoustic ecology. Trust was exhibited at the Gympie Gallery‘s Sensory Ecology curated by Dr Leah Barcalay, as well as the touring exhibition “Technology is Not Neutral” for Phoenix Arts Brighton and Watermans Arts London, curated by Gordana Novakovic, Anna Dumitriu and Irini Papadimitriou/Watermans.

Toby, Sandy, Tommy, Kate worked on techniques for recording and storing media related to the land eg. directional audio installations and movement.

Art COP21:
Hacking Reality
2015 - 2017

Inspired by our time in Paris for ArtCOP21 we continued the co-ordinated storytelling and seed planting.

The work extended back in the UK with Hacking Reality workshops running through 2016 at Phoenix Arts Brighton and Watermans Arts London.

Links: Edgeryders Fellowship and Hacking Reality at CCC33

 Cascading: Origins & Festival of Climate Ideas  

December, 2015

The origin of CASCADE  is multi-stranded. It had its origin in the months leading up to ArtCOP21, a creative protest in Paris urging the countries of the world to wake up to the extent of the climate crisis and systemic breakdown.

In the UK collaborating artists staged a ritual by the water in England in mid-Winter before December’s COP21 at a spring in Hastings recorded by underwater microphone (hydrophone) with Isobel Anderson. They held collaborative community workshops in Brighton, UK and a takeover at the ONCA gallery for the Festival of Climate Ideas with a sound installation of protestors  imagining futures of renewal. 

In Austrailia, Dr. Leah Barclay and Dr. Toby Gifford prepared their Seine River Listening Labs and workshops listening to the sound of hydrophones and creating an augmented reality sound walks along the Seine River.

In Vanuatu, community leader and artist Sandy Sur, Tom Dick and the team at Further Arts were exploring the potential of locative media for recording ni-Vanuatu music and culture.

The meeting in Paris iniated collaboration between these various creative streams and creative networks. Members of different artists groups (Balance Unbalance, Intercreate, Further Arts, Soundtent) met on the Siene in France during the creative protests. They shared interests in sound recording, the value of stories, and creative activism in service to community resilience in the face of extreme environmental challenge. The Cascade was born as a creative research project to investigate the potential for art and communication networks to support healthy relational futures and share intangible culture across communities. 

To see 360 creative documentation of the protest activity and the ceremony on the morning of D12 bringing together many indigenous communities outside Notre Dame Cathedral: ArtCOP21