The network of trade routes known as the Silk Road connected civilizations in the east with the west and facilitated the spread of ideas, goods and culture between peoples. In 1998, cellist Yo-Yo Ma brought together musicians from those lands and created the Silkroad, an ensemble of musicians from different cultures who collaborate for performances and bring music to underserved communities. Over the years, the Silkroad has engaged in a variety of programs to support musicians and artists around the world.

This Saturday, June 17th, the Silkroad will host "Art Overcomes," a benefit event for the project's Refugee Fellowship, which helps refugee artists resettle in the United States and gives them a platform for their artistic pursuits. Adam Gurczak, the Silkroad's education programs manager, spoke about the upcoming event with GBH All Thing's Considered guest host Judie Yuill. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Yuill: Before we get into the event, can you tell us a bit more about the Silkroad's Refugee Fellowship and how it got started?

Gurczak: Absolutely. The Silkroad Refugee Fellowship was born in 2021 in light of the life-threatening situation in Afghanistan, the Taliban [laying] siege, threatening the life and livelihood of artists. In response, Silkroad was compelled to create this fellowship, to resettle artists, and to provide a lifeline to create and perform their art in the United States, free from reprisals.

Yuill: One of the things that strikes me about this is it seems so life-affirming in the face of people who are having catastrophic loss.

Gurczak: Absolutely. We've seen people with incredibly difficult backgrounds come to the United States and be able to start their careers and their lives anew in a way that they weren't able to in their home country.

Yuill: Can you tell me more about some of the Refugee Fellowship success stories?

Gurczak: Absolutely. We only just began this program a couple of years ago, and in the summer of 2022, were able to welcome two sisters to the United States [from Afghanistan]. This past January, we were also able to bring their brother to the United States after two years of them being apart. That reunion was something so incredible. We've seen that family now be able to pursue their creative endeavors here in Boston, and we've also assisted in getting them enrolled into collegiate programs to study graphic design and journalism, respectively. Both received full scholarships at Suffolk University.

Yuill: What can guests expect at the event? Who'll be speaking, and will there be any musical performances?

Gurczak: The event will feature a panel discussion with Silkroad fellow and visual artist Fahima Ashori, Harvard fellow and writer Homeira Qaderi and Alexandra "Xan" Weber from the International Institute of New England. This panel will be discussing the experience of refugee artists and how art serves as a tool for endurance, survival and resistance in the face of difficult times. That will be paired with live music by the Silkroad artist Balla Kouyaté, an exhibit of artwork by Fahima Ashori and an incredible silent auction with beautiful artwork and other exclusive items.

Yuill: So this is something of a fundraiser. What else do you hope that people will take away from the event?

Gurczak: We're really hoping that this event serves as not just a fundraiser, but as a celebration, a platform, and a call to action. It's an opportunity for us to celebrate the incredible talent and resilience of these artists, a platform for them to share their stories and showcase their work. It's also just as important that it's a call to action to remind us of just how integral these diverse perspectives are to the fabric of our society and of our city. It gives us an opportunity to welcome these refugees into our community with open arms and challenge us to think about how we can both individually and collectively support refugee artists in need.

Yuill: How do you think the social impact of the Silkroad has grown over the years?

Gurczak: It's been incredible to see the journey that Silkroad has been on, starting as what was meant to be a somewhat of a temporary project of musicians coming together to create a concert. Over the years, it has bloomed into a large scale nonprofit organization that supports students in middle schools and universities, going into prisons and working with the carceral communities there, and now also supporting refugee communities. It's really ingrained in the work that we do and really ingrained in the music that is being created.

The Silkroad's Art Overcomes event will be held at Boston's Cultural Equity Incubator on Saturday, June 17th.