Refugee Arts Networks: Extending the Frame
Written by Dr Szabolcs Musca
In November 2021, a group of academics, artists and activists gathered to ask:
- What are the strategies and challenges faced by refugee artists today?
- How can networks foster systemic change?
- How can we develop new frameworks driven by artistic vision created by refugee artists?
Around 150 people registered for our event from 20 countries from Europe, the Americas, Africa, Australia and South Asia. This event was the result of a year-long conversation and collaboration between Community Arts North West (CAN), the Drama department at The University of Manchester (UoM) and New Tides Platform.
This curated panel discussion brought together refugee artists advocacy networks to discuss new models for resilient creative networks, featuring grassroots organisations from the UK, France, Germany and Portugal. We reached out to communities of artists, scholars, cultural workers and policymakers, aiming to increase visibility and opportunities for refugee artists and groups and to share experiences and practices across geographic and cultural settings. The hybrid event facilitated an open debate on the role of networks in advocating change on various artistic and institutional levels, aiming to build alliances across research and the creative sector within and outside the UK. A full list of speakers can be found here. The networks involved were:
- Migrants in Theatre (UK)
- MENA Arts (UK)
- L’atelier des Artistes en Exil (Agency of Artists in Exile) (France)
- PostHeimat (Germany)
- União Negras das Artes (Union of Black Artists) (Portugal)
- Contested terminologies & identities
- Need for strong representation & advocacy
- Sustainability and longevity
Actions and visions: This project showcased a wealth of perspectives on how can we re-wire culture and its hierarchies and terminologies to include refugee perspectives.
This work will continue through on-going research conducted by Dr Jeffers in Drama at UoM. Dr Jeffers is collaborating with Prof. Tanja Muller on a new interdisciplinary research project, ‘Transnational lived citizenship through creative production’. PhD researcher Ambrose Musiyiwa will also be using the results of this event as part of his research, ‘Listening to the Voice of Refugee Artists’.
Project duration: September 2020 – Present
Project lead: Dr Alison Jeffers (Drama, UoM)
Internal partner: Drama department at UoM
External partners: CAN, New Tides Platform
Audiences involved: Around 150 artists, academics and activists registered for our event from 20 countries from Europe, the Americas, Africa, Australia and South Asia
“I thought the debate was very balanced and inclusive and it was interesting also to hear experiences from artists outside the UK”
Lara Parmiani, artistic director, LegalAliens Theatre, London
“Gaining insight into a community of practicing artists has been very useful”
Judith Conyers, teacher, Kingston upon Thames
“The work that you do is very important, not only to address inequalities in the cultural sector, but to tackle social and economic inequalities as well”
Carolina Triana Cuellar, academic, University of Sussex
“AMAZING afternoon! I look forward to staying in touch with this brilliant network!”
Jonathan Man, Outreach Coordinator, University of Essex
Funding sources: SALC Social Responsibility Award, CAN