• About us

    We believe that artists have the ability to be catalysts of positive change in their community and beyond. In Amharic, the Ethiopian national language, “Shama” means candle. This image reflects our work to shine a light on the many talented African artists inspiring social change.


    Shama Arts works to identify, showcase and empower local African music and dance artists, with social justice missions. We aim to provide the tools, inspiration and opportunities they need to further transform and influence greater change in their communities.

  • What We Do

    One-week artist workshop programs in Ethiopia


    Shama Arts one-week workshops in Ethiopia are designed and led by local artists providing professional career enhancement through daily workshops, arts education with vulnerable and disabled youth and children, and an inspiring journey to influence social change through arts.

    Dance track

    Register today for the May 2017 program!

    Work with a local dance company fusing traditional Ethiopian dance movement with African and contemporary dance. Collaborate on choreography and techniques. Participate in community dance workshops with vulnerable street children and youth to experience first hand the impact of art.

    Music track

    Coming soon...

    Work with local musicians learning about the influences and social issues in their community, explore musical storytelling and collaborate with them.

  • Shama Arts dance workshop

    2017 Ethiopia Program

    Contact us to learn more and register for our May 29th-June 4th 2017 program

    Submissions open until: Friday April 14th

    The program includes all meals, accommodation, in country travel and generous financial compensation to the partnered Ethiopian artists.


    Total program fee: $972 USD / £790 GBP

    After registration, we require half the program: $486 USD/£392 GBP


    One-week program cost includes:

    • Daily dance masterclass with Destino Dance Company (3 to 5 hrs/day)

    • Cultural tours, talks and artist-led activities

    • Invitation to a live dance performance (supported by US embassy) - June 3rd

    • Accommodation (bed & breakfast) for one week

    • All meals (lunch & dinner), except extra snacks and alcohol

    • In country travel & transportation costs

    • Shama Arts provides financial compensation to Ethiopian artists for their social project

  • Shama Arts Ethiopia dance

    program highlights

    In addition to artists leading daily workshop sessions, we provide a full week experience for a fun and rich cultural adventure in Ethiopia! The program in Ethiopia is designed for personal and professional discovery giving you a unique perspective, skills, insights and meaningful connections with local artists.

    Collaborate with Ethiopian Dance Company through daily masterclass

    Through daily (3 to 5 hour) dance sessions Monday-Friday on a one-week program, you will share styles and techniques and develop your career through a meaningful exchange alongside the first Ethiopian contemporary dance company focused on social justice.

    Influence social change through arts

    Art is a powerful tool for social change. Empowering local artists as catalysts for social change and building collaborations is our cornerstone. We provide the experience for participants to engage with pressing community issues through the lens of our partnered artists. This includes exposure to issues related to street children, disabilities and gender equality.

    Explore the unique culture of Ethiopia

    The one week program will take you on an inspiring journey through cultural activities around Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa. These include visits of museums and galleries, live performances, the contemporary art centre, and a tour of Africa's biggest market, the Merkato. A specific focus on artistic activities will bring the most out of your experience in Ethiopia.

    Learn from other local artists and artisans

    This artistic experience will allow you to discover the finest Ethiopian artisans. Hear fascinating stories and inspiration behind their unique pieces of work, including traditional Orthodox and Islamic art, Abyssinian jewelry, and the most 'avant-garde' Ethiopian designers.

    Build Ethiopian artistry and arts education through your program fee

    Through your program fee, each Ethiopian artist will receive financial compensation that will further their social justice projects.

    Develop your career

    We provide visual documentation and recordings of your time in Ethiopia to add to your portfolio of work experience. You will be building your network with local artists, other participants and Shama Arts family.

    Be part of a growing community

    Through this program you will be the first to pioneer and shape the program with other global artists passionate about social change. You will be accessing our partners, dance expertise and growing network.

  • About our partner

    Don't miss your chance to participate in a unique experience - Apply today!

    Destino: Ethiopia's first contemporary dance company

    DESTINO is the first contemporary dance company in Ethiopia, aiming to improve lives of vulnerable children through dance. Destino create their performances through teaching and transferring their knowledge to youth from underprivileged backgrounds, such as orphans and children with disabilities, developing their cognitive skills and self-esteem through dance. They work to alleviate vulnerabilities related to early marriage, children living in the street or with disabilities; as well as showcasing the rich Ethiopian culture to the world.


    Destino intend to establish a three-year training program in dance, drama, music, choreography for street children, orphans and young offenders in Ethiopia.

    About the Shama Arts workshop sessions

    Throughout the one-week program, Destino Dance Company will facilitate daily 3-5 hour sessions (Monday-Friday), fusing Contemporary dance with traditional Ethiopian and African steps.


    The two week program will blend floor work, improvisations, duo and group work, choreography, technique, musicality, individual expression and creation of dance pieces to be worked on with vulnerable children and youth.


    Participants will both learn and contribute to choreography and engagement with community projects.

    Watch Destino's story now!

    Hear the success story of Destino's founders who were once street boys and why they created Destino Dance Company in Ethiopia.

  • Sign up for info on the

    May 29th program

    Receive our detailed brochure, and chat with us to get all your questions answered for the one-week Ethiopia dance workshop

    May 29th- June 4th, 2017

  • About Ethiopia

    In 2015, Ethiopia was awarded world's best tourist destination by the European Council on Tourism and Trade: “Ethiopia [has] a perfect record of promoting social-friendly tourism, and an ecological and poverty reduction strategy based on tourism”.


    The country has a unique and well-preserved cultural heritage and diversity, such as the historic and holy sites of Lalibela, Gondar, Axum and Harar. Ethiopian landscapes are breathtaking, from the green highlands of Simien Mountains, to the lunar landscape of Dallol salt lakes, and the beautiful valley of Southern Omo.


    Talented artists and a dynamic and innovative contemporary music and dance scene also keep Ethiopia’s rich cultural heritage alive. As far as music is concerned, Ethiopia is a creative hub that has given birth to the internationally renowned "ethio-jazz". Dance also remains a crucial element of the Ethiopian culture, from traditional regional dances to the latest Ethiopian contemporary dance technique.

    Ethiopia's rich history of music and dance.

    The project workshop site: Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia.

    Fendika: Traditional Ethiopian music and dance house

    - one of the many exciting local discoveries of Shama Arts program

    Ethiopian traditional food: Injera and Beyaynetu (mix of wot/sauce)

    The guesthouse in Addis Ababa, accommodation for Shama Arts participants

  • Who We Are

    We want to connect you to Africa’s finest social artists to move, share and inspire the world

    Contact us


    Lexi Balfour

    Musician, Activist, Dreamer,

    Global citizen

    Lexi grew up passionate about performing arts after being exposed at a young age living in West Africa, then studying musical performance in the UK, which led to a tour through Spain and performances in London. For the last seven years, Lexi has been immersed in African development, social justice and entrepreneurship working at a philanthropic consulting firm in the USA. From 2010-2013, Lexi was based in Africa launching new country initiatives. Whilst in Africa, Lexi recorded a song with a local rapper in the slums of Namibia, and engaged for years with artists to see first hand the impact they have on their communities.

    Clémence Muzard

    Dancer, Explorer, Enthusiast, Connector

    Clémence started ballet at the age of six growing up in France. Nurturing her passion led her to perform in jazz, contemporary dance and gwo-ka Afro. As a researcher on African history and a humanitarian professional she has been traveling around Africa, discovering the continent's rich artistic culture. For four years, Clémence has been working in Addis Ababa on the implementation of child rights and child protection, and pursuing her passion dancing with the socially-engaged Destino Dance Company. Now based in London, she is passionate about mixing genre, cultural inspirations and artistic techniques.

  • May 2017 Program: FAQ

    Spring 2017 Program:

    May 27th- June 4th, 2017

    Submissions close: April 14th

    Limited availability!

    Sign up today for our early bird price

    Click below to access our registration and full list of FAQs

  • Need fundraising ideas?

    We can help! Contact us: info@shamaarts.com

    We can help advise, share and highlight your fundraising sites so that you don't miss out!

    1. Try Crowdsourcing-

    Create your personal fundraising sites

    You'll be surprised

    Set up a profile on a crowdsourcing website- invite all your friends and online network to support you and make your dream happen!

    Try these: gofundme, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, rockethub.

    2. Matching funds through your network

    Don't forget to pitch at the pub

    Explore if your company/ employer or university will match the donation of funds you raise through your own network. Some will offer a dollar for dollar matching program.

    3. Explore University grants and scholarships

    No harm in asking

    Many institutions provide one time grants or scholarships for professional training/educational travel- inquire with your employers/professors, clubs, financial aid or professional/student unions.

    4. Fundraise through your own art performances

    Play and get funded

    Drive fundraising, crowdsourcing and your own social network donations to your trip through your own art performances. For example: "I will play at three open mics for $300". You could even work with the venues to sponsor, sell tickets to your performances with a donation to the trip, or we can help you brainstorm other ideas!

  • Social Feed

    Check out our latest updates and follow us!