[INTERVIEW] Q+A with Sheena Bourke of War Child

War Child, a charity supporting children caught in conflict and war, are running a fundraising concert in Sydney tonight, with British rockers The Wombats to play an intimate show at The Oxford Art Factory. We spoke with Sheena Bourke, head of War Child fundraising, to speak about the show and the importance of music and War Child.

This is the first fundraising concert you’ve held in Australia, why the decision to hold one in Australia?

War Child was founded on music. Our music heritage dates back to the mid 90’s when we released the HELP album that brought together the cream of Brit pop at the time and made a huge impact on the lives of children living through the Bosnia conflict. It is at the heart of everything we do and that’s what led us here! Not only are Australians passionate about music, but there’s so much incredible talent coming out of Australia and we were eager to work with them. Music is such a powerful tool to bring people together, we wanted to share this platform to raise awareness of the effects that conflicts around the world are having on children and to communicate the critical need for support from Australians to enable War Child to reach more children.

Is there any particular reason you chose The Wombats (and Sydney) for this concert?

First and foremost, we wanted a band that knew how to put on a good show! I’d seen them at Splendour in July and then at Hordern Pavilion just a couple of days after and had so much fun. So excited to see them for the third time this year!

Particularly as a UK founded organisation, we also wanted to work with a band that had links to UK and Australia, who were passionate about the work that we do. The 3 Wombats and the entire team have been an absolute dream to work with, they’re so supportive of our work and we couldn’t have hoped for a better group of people to launch our inaugural show in Australia!

The idea of putting on ‘big bands in small venues’ is a model we’ve worked on for War Child’s BRITs Week for almost 10 years, and it’s always such a special experience that we wanted to replicate it with the ARIAs. We’re really excited to grow on this amazing foundation that The Wombats have helped us create. It’s such a powerful way to raise awareness for children affected by conflict.

Why do you think music is such an important medium?

Artists use the power of music to tell their story to their audience, and that medium has always resonated with how we communicate our work. Most of us can’t even imagine what it’s like to live through war, having to flee your home with no idea what the future holds, experiencing unimaginable horrors on a daily basis. Through music, we can tell their stories and ensure we can raise awareness of the issues they face. In war zones, the sounds of bombing and guns are a daily occurrence, once you start hearing the sound of music, you know there’s hope for a brighter future. It means they’re finally safe.