Everybody wants a refugee on stage: Conversations around contemporary artistic engagement with migration

This new IETM publication revisits the topics of 'Creation and displacement' mapping, which was written for IETM throughout 2015 to showcase the multitude of artistic projects taking place in Europe and internationally with a focus on support, solidarity and engagement with refugees, asylum-seekers and those who are recently displaced.

In 2015, through open calls and direct contacts within and beyond its membership, IETM pulled together information about over 140 projects and initiatives, that fed into the mapping ‘Creation and displacement. Developing new narratives about migration’ and its hefty Annex. The original ‘Creation and Displacement’ mapping was written by Yasmin Fedda, Tory Davidson and Daniel Gorman, and published in March 2016.

Since then, there have been many changes – on a political, social and economic level. In this changed context, IETM commissioned Daniel Gorman, executive director of Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture and Rana Yazigi, freelance arts consultant, to update the report for 2019, with a specific focus on questions of longevity, evaluation and impact, with the aim on providing some useful starting points for organisations looking to engage with individuals in times of displacement.

This update goes back to some of the projects considered as good examples of initiatives engaging creatively with displacement. The authors aim to look critically at the way such initiatives developed and sustained themselves, and at the impacts on the participants and on the artists and creators, without shying away from challenges and failures. Above all, the publication aims to give a voice to the people who were involved directly in the organisation and management of the projects, who have dedicated years of their personal and professional life to use the power of the arts and culture to build bridges between newcomers and locals, often in a hostile political environment.



Rana Yazaji 
Rana Yazaji is a manager, researcher and trainer in the field of culture and cultural policies. She was Managing Director of Culture Resource (Al Mawred Al Thaqafy) from 2014 until 2017. Rana is also a founding member, and previous director, of Syrian cultural organisation Ettijahat – Independent Culture.

Daniel Gorman 
Daniel Gorman is Executive Director of Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture. Daniel is also a co-founder of Highlight Arts, who have organised collaborative UK-based international arts festivals and events since 2007, including projects working with artists in Iraq and Syria. Daniel is the author of the IETM report ‘The Art of Disobedience. Arts and Politics’ and was co-author of IETM report ‘Creation and Displacement: Developing new narratives around migration’.

Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture
Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture is Europe’s largest festival of contemporary Arab culture. Founded in 2011, the Shubbak festival takes place every two years connecting London and the United Kingdom to the best of contemporary Arab culture through ambitious programmes that span the visual arts, film, music, theatre, dance, literature, installations and debates. It promotes the innovation and creativity of Arab artists to inform and inspire the widest possible audiences in the UK and around the world. Shubbak 2019 takes place in venues across London and the UK from 28 June – 14 July.

IETM is a network of over 500 performing arts organisations and individual members working in the contemporary performing arts worldwide: theatre, dance, circus, interdisciplinary live art forms, new media. IETM advocates for the value of the arts and culture in a changing world and empowers performing arts professionals through access to international connections, knowledge and a dynamic forum for exchange.