The Senegal-America Project •

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Two hands  picture made on glass of a Xerox machine

Jean Butler, Co-Director of SAP and President of Arts Are Essential, Inc.

The Senegal-America Project (SAP) was established in 1995 with the support of the non-profit organization Arts Are Essential to create cross-cultural projects with musicians, artists, students and educators. Hosted by Co-Founders Massamba Diop and Tony Vacca, our residency reminds people that we are all connected and invites them to create and realize whatever they envision. Whether they are working alone or in collaboration with others, residents will find plenty of support among this circle of staff and friends. They can meet and work with US and Senegalese musicians, artists, educators and students; and experience the culture, the legacy and the peoples of this ancient and contemporary land.

Two men posed before a large graffiti-ed water tower

Massamba Diop and Tony Vacca
Water tower in Pikine, Senegal

Our home base is Sobobade, a seaside artist retreat in the village of Toubab Diallo that was built by a Haitian sculptor. Sobobade's two locations – one on the ocean and one inland – offer an outdoor amphitheater, dance and drumming classrooms and a restaurant. Past residents have included poets, painters, musicians, storytellers, photographers, videographers, educators and students.  Activities include festivals; discussions with young African rappers at the Africulturban Organization’s Hip-Hop Akademy in Pikine; and a visit to Goree Island, a former slave fortress. Residents are welcomed into our circle of friends, and we can help them find recording studios and esoteric instruments. We are right on the Atlantic and the water is great.

A decorated archway leads down to the ocean


Trips are customized to meet the travelers' goals and available time. One musician/composer came to me in Senegal and said: “I've not been sleeping because I've been up all night composing music. I've composed more in these few days than I did all last year.” The duration of residencies at the SAP is flexible, ranging from 10 days to three weeks. Costs vary by the length of the visit. Cost is per person, and does not include airfare (although we may be able to help with that expense). Residents share rooms – double occupancy. We share meals, Senegalese style. We work with residents (in advance) to handle any medical, travel or comfort concerns. We also provide some Wolof language assistance prior to arrival and handle the money exchanges for residents to eliminate that time-consuming piece.