Music Academy

Bidi Bidi Arts Centre

Freedom. To express. To heal. To live.


By spring 2022, local entrepreneurs, Playing for Change, & will open the Bidi Bidi Arts in one of the newest refugee settlements in the world, Bidi Bidi Settlement.

We chose Bidi Bidi because it’s unique. Unlike many other refugee settlements around the world, basic services like food and shelter are in place. However, there are limited cultural institutions, community spaces and areas for young people to play. 

Bidi Bidi residents carry considerable trauma, having fled violence in South Sudan, and there is ample evidence that music and dance help people process trauma, empower new beginnings, and establish community. 


Join us, Robbie.

CENTER PHOTO: Filming of a Bidi Bidi refugee artist in Bidi Bidi. BEHIND: A large amphitheater built in Nakivale Refugee Settlement by and partners in southern Uganda will be an inspiration for this project.


On Uganda’s border with South Sudan, 9-hours north of Kampala, Bidi Bidi refugee settlement is the largest refugee settlement in Africa and the second largest in the world. What was once a small village where people survived on livestock farming and hunting, Bidi Bidi became officially recognized as a refugee settlement in August 2016. Since then, Bidi Bidi has grown to cover nearly 250km2 and is now home to a population of nearly 250,000 South Sudanese refugees, mostly women and children, forced to flee their homes due to violent conflict.


To find a solution for the Bidi Bidi community, partnered with Playing for Change Foundation (PFCF) and Ugandan NGO Sina Loketa, to build an Arts & Music Centre, inspired by the talent and passion for music we see in Bidi Bidi, underscored by our strong belief that creative expression is a basic human right and our commitment to providing opportunities.


The different facilities will be established over 3 phases, starting with a large classroom for art activities and a recording studio.

Arts Center:

The Bidi Bidi Arts & Culture centre will incorporate the following elements: a music classroom (at least 60m2); recording studio (30m2); open air performance & community space (120m2); secured music equipment storage; vegetable garden & tree nursery; 2-bedroom residence; community bathrooms.

Why Music:

We believe in the power of music to be an avenue for youth to express themselves, heal and become educated. Furthermore, there is a strong existing culture of music deeply ingrained in Sudanese culture (the origin of most all refugees in Bidi Bidi). And, on a community level, this center and academy hopes to be a bridge between disconnected, and in some cases feuding, groups in the settlement.


The design of the Arts and Culture centre will be sympathetic to local architectural aesthetics of this region of northern Uganda and South Sudan. Most structures in rural areas here are round (or gently squared) with thatched dome roofing. The construction will use low-cost, low-carbon local building materials, and will be managed by local building companies who will also involve refugee crews in the building of the centre.

The land we have secured is in the centre of an area of Bidi Bidi known as Zone 2, a few steps from a busy main strip of hair salons, restaurants, and shops – a locus of refugee entrepreneurial activity.


In 2007, the Playing for Change Foundation was established as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to create positive change through music and arts education. Over the last decade 15 music schools have been launched across 11 countries in the developing world, using music as a tool for education and social change.


SINA Loketa is a local partner of in Bidi Bidi, offering professional training opportunities to the refugee community. The Ministry of Useless Affairs is a refugee community group that will be involved in the development of programming – seen above holding a National Geographic article highlighting their work in developing future cities.


Zex, affectionately referred to as The Ghetto Prime Minister, is a rising star in Uganda with the #1 hit song Ratata. As a longtime collaborator with, he is dedicated to helping his community of nationals and refugees rise up through the arts. Zex, along with a number of other local and international stars, will be central to our curated network of teachers and collaborators whose talent and passion will be the cornerstone of the Bidi Bidi Community Arts Centre.