Kulture Break has come a long way from its humble beginnings teaching a handful of students breakdancing in South Tuggeranong, developing into one of the ACT’s leading arts charitable community service providers over the past 16 years.
Founder and CEO Francis Owusu set up the organisation to empower children and young people, and says doing so through dance and music was born out of his own experiences in school as a shy kid.
“It wasn’t until I got connected with the arts that it all changed for me,” Mr Owusu says.
“I noticed the impacts it made on me in terms of improving my wellbeing, self-esteem, my confidence and ability to express myself through the arts.
“At one point I went, ‘if this can happen to me, this positivity … then I’m sure this can make an impact for other people’.”
This was the catalyst for creating Kulture Break, as Mr Owusu began teaching dance at Lanyon High School back in 2002.
“We started breakdancing with seven kids, and then it started to grow,” he says.
“Schools started asking me to come visit and provide the same opportunities for their students, and it’s grown from there over the years to the point where we now have over 8,000 kids involved every week.”
Over the past 16 years, Kulture Break has evolved to incorporate several different programs across dance and music; including Ladies First and Man Up, both risk prevention youth dance mentoring programs catering to female and male participants, workshops, performances, teacher training and more.
All of these programs invoke the organisation’s inclusive philosophy.
“A lot of people know Kulture Break for dance, but what’s behind it is the message that you don’t become somebody, you are somebody,” Mr Owusu says.
“That message has really gravitated a lot of young people over the years who have been able to discover who they are through movement and music.”
Mr Owusu says his heart is regularly warmed when he receives glowing feedback from parents who say his programs have delivered great benefit to their children.
He even sometimes runs into past students who are all grown up and still reflect fondly on their experiences at Kulture Break, sometimes seeing them when they drop their own children off for a class.
Adam Gill used to participate in Kulture Break’s courses in high school and now, aged 31, he volunteers in a mentoring capacity with their Man Up program.
A senior marketing executive in the private sector, Mr Gill encourages Canberra businesses to consider sponsoring Kulture Break because of the positive impact it has on the lives of so many young people across the Canberra region.
Looking ahead, Mr Owusu says he hopes Kulture Break can continue to expand nationally. Just off the back of a tour of Victoria, he hopes to develop a presence in every state and territory of Australia.
Meanwhile, one of Kulture Break’s best known alumni, Timomatic, returns to Canberra this weekend to perform with dancers from his alma mater on Sunday 22 July 3pm at The Street Theatre. Bookings: thestreet.org.au
For more information on volunteering, donating or participating with Kulture Break, visit kulturebreak.com
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