Last month, we had the amazing opportunity to take part in the Refugee Week Conference 2017 at Amnesty International UK. We at Art Lingual were excited to rally behind such an important event!
The conference is a preemptive event leading up to Refugee Week, the UK’s largest festival celebrating the contributions of refugees and promoting further understanding of why people seek sanctuary. The festival takes place every year in the week around World Refugee Day, 20th June. This year’s festival will take place 19-25 June 2017 here in the UK, with the theme being ‘Different Pasts, Shared Future’.
The day consisted of a stimulating mix of workshops, performances and short, inspiring presentations to help us prepare for Refugee Week. We were intrigued to chat with artists and organisations who create work similar to our own as well as the different perspectives and tools used in their art. We were welcomed to the event by the Chair of Refugee Week & CEO of Refugee Council, Maurice Wren, as well as our hosts for the day’s event, Counterpoint Arts. We were then presented with a series of ‘offers’: unique creations, installations and events commissioned by Counterpoint Arts that centred around these themes, that we could pull from for our own events for Refugee Week. These included arts projects, films that could be shown, theatre pieces and even music that could be performed. After lunch, we got to hear from groups from various parts of the UK about their past Refugee Week events, what they’re planning for this year and how we could get involved. Even some tips on how to market your own event!
One of the many fun things about the day was getting to participate in the art installations set up throughout the space. One of which was Gil Mualem-Doron’s The New Union Flag, which you can see Sierra and I pictured in front of in this blog post. The project is his proposal for an alternative flag for the UK, one which incorporates designs from ‘former colonised communities and various ethnic and national groups that live in the UK today.’ The boats on the flag are also symbols of the migration of people to and from the UK throughout history. On the day, all he asked is that we have our picture taken in front of it to show support, and share it through our networks and social media channels. The flag is available for installation and Gil offers workshops about the flag, too. It is currently on display this week (17-19 March) at Tate Exchange for the Who Are We? event. The event is free and looks at exploring identity, belonging, migration and citizenship through participatory arts. More info is here: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/workshop/tate-exchange/who-are-we. You can also check out more about Gil’s alternative flag here: http://www.a4community.org.
Other helpful parts of the event were the ‘washing line’ activities. These were some of the many opportunities we had to network with other artists, in groups, sharing ideas about how we could go about planning events. We met quite a few interesting people from different charities working here and abroad, British Council and even the British Red Cross, about what they are planning for this year’s events. It really got our creative inspiration flowing, and made us at Art Lingual even more excited to plan for this event. We’re currently working an arts project to launch for Refugee Week 2017. Plans are underway, and with the help and resources of the Refugee Week team and Counterpoint Arts, it’s sure to be an engaging and thoughtful event. We’ll have more details soon, so stay tuned!