Drumming up interest in park workshop

A Sunderland bus driver is challenging Wearsiders to try African drumming. 

Lacina “Lass” Diabate, a drummer originally from the Ivory Coast, is leading an African drumming workshop at Barnes Park this Sunday (August 29). The free workshop is open to people of all ages and will take place in the park’s fountain area between 12pm and 3pm. 

Lass is passionate about African drumming and leads regular workshops on Djembe and Dundun (African drumming techniques) as well as African folk dance. He also runs a community voluntary organisation called African Societal Artistique of Sunderland. 

Lass was one of three recipients of Sunderland Culture’s first New Encounters bursaries. The bursaries were launched earlier this year as a way to help performing artists from the city’s ethnically diverse communities. 

He said: “The New Encounters bursary allows me to run drumming workshops in the local community and this Sunday will be the first of these. If possible I’d like to organise a small-scale performance to showcase the skills developed during the workshops.” 

The other recipients of the bursaries were Maya Dhananjay, studying a Masters degree in events management at the University of Sunderland, who was awarded a bursary to expand opportunities for people to learn about Indian dance; and rapper and composer Stephen Elms who plans to use his bursary to write music about the experiences of people during the Covid lockdowns. 

Helen Green, Head of Performance at Sunderland Culture, explained: “I’d urge anyone interested in any form of drumming – or anyone who wants to try something a bit different – to attend Lass’s workshop. He’s a charismatic drummer, and expert in his field and I’m sure the workshops will be great fun.”