“Beat A Pan, NOT A Man.” That is the tag line of the Pandemonium Steel Band - a group that was formed out of an initiative in 2013 by NICH and RESTORE Belize with generous funding from UNICEF. The steel pan project utilizes the Steel Pan as a tool for social outreach with free lessons offered to children and youths from socially vulnerable populations.
Within a year of the steel pan project’s inception, the students who showed a high degree of skill, discipline, and dedication were brought together in one group and combined with a few long-time pannists, who serve as section leaders, teachers, and mentors. This was the birth of Pandemonium: A vivacious, enthusiastic group of children and youth with a fresh take on Steel Pan music. Over the past four years, over 50 students have benefited from this programme, and Pandemonium is now a highly anticipated feature at steel pan concert as this is a band that embodies the idea that pan music should be fun and electrifying for players and audience members alike.
This project is in line with each partners’ mission of empowerment. NICH’s Institute of Creative Arts aims to be the catalyst for creative, artistic and professional excellence in Belize. In fulfillment of this mission NICH provides musical education and artistic leadership to the Pandemonium Steel Band. Its partner in this programme, RESTORE Belize provides logistic support as it is mandated to promote greater collaboration between agencies and to mobilize resources to accomplish its mission of making Belize a safe, vibrant home for residents through inclusive, multi-sectoral and citizen-centered action.
UNICEF advocates for the protection of children’s rights to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential. This steel pan project does exactly that by providing students with a positive after-school activity that gives them the opportunity to reach their musical potential. For a more immersive understanding of Pandemonium, you can access UNICEF’s 2015 documentary on the project here.