What is "Skambha"?
Every culture has it's version of the "tree of life", an axis mundi, - a concept that connects heaven and earth, and all the directions.
Skambha, as it appears in Vedic mythology, is a cosmic column that acts as a scaffold supporting the cosmos and material creation, where we can go forth and explore, invent, create, discover - and to bring that knowledge back to share it with others. At Skambha Village, we believe art IS that fulcrum, for without it, nothing can connect. Our humanity is best seen through the creativity of every culture.
At Skambha Village, we strive to bring those who are working on unique creations to the world, and welcome your contributions and collaborations.
Founder Leigh Barrett is a veteran broadcast journalist, experienced in print, radio, and television. Originally from South Africa, Leigh came to USA in 1998, traveling the country with her 5 dogs. None acquired an American accent, which for Leigh came in handy when invited to produce and present music radio on public stations in Eugene, Oregon, where she still resides, completing the "media triumvirate" (although social media is an ongoing learning curve).
Leigh Barrett was born and raised in South Africa, spending much of her adult life living in various places around the country, from city to town to farm, always accompanied by numerous dogs, as reclusive iconoclasts have been known to do.
After several years in her school choir, and futile efforts trying to memorize piano chords, Leigh had learned two valuable lessons: performing wasn’t in her comfort zone, and producing music was best left to the professionals.
A brief waltz on stage with a fellow nerd was all that was really needed to nail the performing coffin shut, and her direction changed to writing.
For several years, she developed her journalism skills in television, working at the SABC on a news program producing documentaries on current topics, including the cultural boycott of the 1980’s, returning immigrants, and introducing a relatively unknown political satirist, Caspar de Vries, to the national audience. Leigh was co-nominated for a national television award for an in-depth documentary, “Aids in Africa”, for which several Health Ministers from various African countries were interviewed, as well as the first known patient to die of Aids in South Africa. Switching medium, she was offered a weekly column in a widely circulated Johannesburg newspaper, with the freedom to espouse opinions on any topic of her choosing.
Switching channels, Leigh spent several years in the hospitality and finance fields, working in front-facing positions in some of the country’s finest hotels, and inexplicably ending up as a consultant in corporate finance with Investec Bank, handling very high-pressured, high-stress, exhausting, stock exchange funding facilities.
In 1998, Leigh left on an adventure with her 5 dogs, choosing America because of the lack of quarantine rules, but with few other plans in mind. After traveling for two months across the northern half of the United States, the gang dropped into the equivalent of Brigadoon: Eugene, Oregon.
Fulfilling the third branch of the Fourth Estate, radio opened to embrace her talents, with weekly shows on two Oregon public radio stations. Presenting diverse genres as world music, rock, pop, reggae, progressive rock, American Indian, and disco, her shows were received with wide acclaim that resulted in other stations adjusting their programming to avoid the competition. Not content with purely music-based airtime, she also presented a weekly half-hour news show, called “Africa Digest”, which proved to be the only place in the country where listeners could find current information on the continent.
After a 2-year hiatus, she was drawn back to current events and humanitarian issues in 2012, when she was invited to be a contributor to MIPJ (“Media and Information Policy Journal”). MIPJ Principal and Publisher, KJ Wetherholt says: “Leigh has acted in several key capacities at the IIPFoundation/MIPJ. She has been the Producer, Host, and Principal of the MIPJ Radio Podcasts… singlehandedly originating, spearheading content, and acting as a broadcast executive, producing (including all technical aspects for the audio podcasts) and hosting on air high-impact content on international relations and humanitarian affairs…. Leigh has also, in this context, included important cultural elements to act as contextual and more resonant nuances during these podcasts, including the use of relevant music of the time (lauded by a noted ethnomusicologist for her choices), recorded interviews, historical broadcasts and other content to give a more fully-fleshed experience for listeners.
“Additionally, Leigh has been a key contributor to the print, digital, and multimedia editions of the MIPJ, which is distributed internationally and whose readers include those among academic, policy, governance, NGO’s, crisis/conflict media organizations, as well as the international public. These have included deeply researched articles, interviews, and content reviews.
“There is no one I know who has such a broad spectrum of talents in the media sphere, and who has the capacity to bring such layered, nuanced, and professional capacities in both development and production of content.”
Despite earning a living in finance-related positions during her years in America, the call of the arts has never been far from Leigh’s heart, and her ability to combine her journalism and story-telling background with her diverse musical tastes, positions her ready to enter the dance world with stunning narratives and a fresh approach to dance theatre.
“Ab initio”, or first principle- it may be physics, but it’s also Leigh’s philosophy. Do not make assumptions about what others have done in the past. Start new - do something different. Or, as her favorite saying by renowned photojournalist W. Eugene Smith goes, “I didn’t write the rules, why should I follow them?”
Leigh’s gift in using the music of well-known lyricists and musicians to create complex and often flawed characters in which we can all invest is unique in its depth and diversity. Her critical thinking abilities and love of research, combined with her experience and well-honed intuition, results in great narratives that are rooted in human history. An open willingness to be flexible and a love of collaboration, combined with a wry sense of humor and a healthy dose of self-deprecation, makes Leigh a fabulous, and absolutely authentic, partner in creativity – anywhere in the world.