image of Elena Di federico

arts practices and refugees

IETM is invited to join a meeting held by the European Commission in June on the role of arts and culture in promoting the integration of refugees and migrants. We're asked to reply to 3 questions by April 29 but we want to bring your voice to the meeting. So we're eager to hear from you - any input, answer, or thoughts about the questions themselves... is very much welcome! 

1. Which 5 recent initiatives in Europe (or elsewhere) best demonstrate the successful role of culture in promoting the inclusion of refugees and migrants? What have been the key success factors in these initiatives? 
2. What are the best ways to organize cultural activities to promote the inclusion of refugees and migrants – immediately on arrival (first six months), and in the longer term (after six months – the normal time limit for asylum procedures in the EU)? 
3. What are the 5 strongest arguments which can be made by civil society, on why and how to use culture to promote the integration of migrants and refugees? How should these arguments be framed, to justify investment in culture?

image of Maritska Witte

1. There is a project bij tgSpace which is interesting: refugees are involved as the experts on how to deal with loss. It is an interactive documentary requiem on the premisse of the hardly unimaginable case that Holland will be flooded and we in turn have to flee the country.

2/3. We work with schools. There are several schools in Amsterdam that have a class of refugees that constantly changes. The first six months is difficult: one never knows if the person you are working with has not been relocated after the weekend. Other schools have refugee youngsters that do have permits. For those schools, culture is powerful means to get their kids to feel at home, to be able to express them selves and to get to know fellow citizens.

Posted 4 years 5 months ago
image of Julie Burgheim

To add to the upcoming discussion, first some food for thoughts...

Another project led by artists - ARTISTS IN ACTION defining their mission as follows : "Locally, nationally and internationally, ARTISTS in ACTION are involved in direct action to raise much needed practical aid and finances through local collections of clothing and food, plus the organisation of musical events and strategies to bring in funds."

Posted 4 years 5 months ago
image of Julie Burgheim


"The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is an independent organisation of cities and regions offering shelter to writers and artists at risk, advancing freedom of expression, defending democratic values and promoting international solidarity"

Posted 4 years 5 months ago
image of Agnes Bakk

Hello everybody! As for the first question maybe the example that I bring up is more education related, but I consider it as a best-practice: Central European University in Budapest together with the NGO MIGSZOL Csoport started a weekend course series for asylum-seekers CEUOlive.

The first course just ended, and the students received a diploma, also with CEU's (an internationally acknowledged university) stamp. I think it is great!

Posted 4 years 5 months ago
image of Isabel Andreen

L’Age de la Tortue is a French (Rennes) based cultural organisation, that implements arts projects in the fields of visual and performing arts.

Based on current critical thought within our contemporary society and investigating cultural rights. L’Age de la Tortue sets out to question our relationship to political and social representations to challenge our view of the world.
Projects :
2008-2011 – Partir – 50 témoignages de personnes migrantes en Europe (2 publications)
2010-2011 – Correspondances Citoyennes en Europe – Les migrations au Cœur de la construction européenne (France, Espagne, Roumanie ) Programme Citoyenneté EU
2014-2017 – L’Encyclopédie des migrants – Écrire une histoire intime des migrations entre le Finistère breton et Gibraltar. (France-Espagne-Portugal-Gibraltar) Programme Erasmus + - Partenariats Stratégiques.

Posted 4 years 5 months ago
image of Brina STINEHELFER

1. We organised a very successful Bazaar and Cabaret a few months ago. Newcomers were invited to present something to sell (handmade goods, food) or share (a game or a workshop) or do onstage (music, theater, poetry). It went all day and night and we had over 700 people attend.

What made it successful is that the content was created by Newcomers (as my refugee/migrant friends prefer to be called) and they were at least half of the audience. It was really an event for and by the community. Also different communities of Newcomers (Syria, Africa, Afghanistan) got to express their culture and meet together in a friendly way outside the sometimes conflicting environment of the camps.
The challenge was outreach - finding participants (and getting them to confirm). A lot of volunteers spent a lot of time visiting people where they were and getting to know them so that they were interested in the project. Reaching audience also took some effort, we even brought busses from the refugee camps to the theater.
The entrance was on donation, those that could donated and those that didn't didn't but no one felt stigmatised with a policy like "Refugees get in free".
All the donations were given to the Newcomer participants and the organisations of their choice which support them.
2. Both times are good, but you have to approach them in different ways. Immediate arrival would be more the time for artistic workshops of psychological help, which help to deal with trauma, especially for children. It is too soon for most people to want to get onstage, they are still concerned with their survival. After they've been here for a while, some people are really interested in having their voices heard. Also, it is a time when they really appreciate a space where they can dance and listen to music as it was for them back home before the trauma.
3. I have seen through first had experience how engaging with Newcomers through arts and culture can improve their wellbeing, provide them with a viable opportunity to work and earn money (as artists), and improve the mutual understanding and respect between Newcomers and "old-timers", and between different newcomer diaspora.
I have some experience with this, and am happy to elaborate more if needed, as well as put you in touch with some Berlin based Newcomers who are taking things into their own hands and using arts & culture as an empowerment tool. Just get in touch [email protected]

Posted 4 years 5 months ago
image of Andrea ZAGORSKI

And here an exemple from Berlin:

BERLIN MONDIALE brings children, adolescents, and young adults who have fled their homelands into contact with Berliners active in the area of arts and culture. The aim of these creative encounters is to help break the refugees’ isolation by giving them a place in the city as full-fledged members of our society. Haus der Kulturen der Welt is one of seven cultural institutions participating in this initiative. Haus Leo is a residential hostel in the Moabit district for refugees. It houses 75 refugees, including 25 children and youth, from Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, Iran, Serbia, Syria, and Chechnya.


Posted 4 years 5 months ago
image of Anna Lengyel

1. Some of the best practices I have come across:

Orchestre Partout - led by former Dogtroep member Ted van Leeuwen, a composer and musician, who has been running a band for refugees at the Alkmaar refugee camp every Tuesday for almost ten years now. The idea is for band members to play instruments and sing songs together, exclusively songs from their homeland, mostly in their mother-tongue. The band is extremely successful and it is moving to see them in action. Another very successful initiative is the Czech Archa Theatre's project at the Kostelec refugee camp (which, by the way, is a nightmare, unlike the Alkmaar one, people spend anywhere up to over a dozen years waiting for their asylum application to be granted or turned down, all the while not being allowed to work or do anything, so total depression and inertia ruled the camp even before the refugee crisis), where they spent a lot of time led by Jana Svobodova, who from the personal stories and with the participation of some of the (former) refugees themselves created a show called vadí.nevadí.cz with Philipp Schenker with which they also toured to a few festivals. Both of these initiatives are described in detail in the book we, PanoDrama edited as the conclusion of our two-year EU project with these partners called Karaoke Europe (copies available in Budapest).
2. Regarding immediate inclusion, what I think proved very successful were the simplest games some facilitators played with the children of the refugees stranded at Keleti Railway Station last summer in the worst heatwave. Instead of complete desperation and uselessness, the kids felt welcome and had great fun. One leader of this initiative in Budapest was Kati Beke, another the drama teacher, Yvette Feuer. Both have vast experience with marginalised groups' kids, mostly the Roma. I can provide contacts for anyone interested.
A third initiative I know of which I think is of central importance is that of Melinda Ashley Meyer, director of the expressive arts conflict transformation and peace-building program
Yet another method is using several of Augusto Boal's techniques: forum theatre, legislative theatre, as well as direct actions, like for instance helping to resolve conflicts via these forms, as well as through PanoDrama's jury theatre, where the given conflict is presented in a theatre trial and then discussed and possibly decided by a jury of laypeople with half of them from the protected group in front of an audience.
3. As for the arguments of using culture in integration, one would think they are painfully obvious, but perhaps a few:
- US history, a melting pot of different nations, cultures and beliefs, where people learned how to live together (more or less)
- real culture, or rather art always goes much deeper and shows issues or differences in a much more complex way than staunch religious or national beliefs
- the moment culture stops being a privilege of the wealthy or the few or the elite, barriers come down much faster and understanding grows every day
- once you see the beauty and the richness of the other culture, unless you are completely bigoted in your prejudice, you start appreciating the other group, their feelings, their gifts, their history etc.
You might some of these notions naive and at the moment I do not have to time to write a proper article about them, but I would love to be part of any serious conversations on how culture and art can promote the integration of refugees.

Posted 4 years 5 months ago
image of Mary Helen Young

Thank you for collecting these responses! My input on question 1 from the UK:

Good Chance Theatre (working in Calais)

In Place of War place-of- war/

Citizens UK is working across sectors including the cultural sector

West Yorkshire Playhouse Theatre of Sanctuary ( sanctuary/)

Pan Arts

Posted 4 years 5 months ago
image of Elena Di federico

Thanks to everybody for these comments and examples! It's precious material, and we've taken your suggestions into account in drafting our answers. We'll keep you posted about the meeting in June using the forum.

We're also preparing a mapping of artistic practices dealing with the refugee crisis (title tbc) to be published late May, and we'll include some of these projects as well. Please feel free to let me know if you have further suggestions or material to share - deadline for this would be May, 5th.

In any case we'd like to keep this conversation alive, so if you have any thoughts to share, you're welcome to post them here!

Posted 4 years 5 months ago
image of Christophe Blandin-estournet

Christophe Blandin-Estournet
Directeur du Théâtre de l’Agora, scène nationale d’Evry et de l’Essonne
Président de Clowns sans Frontières – ONG humanitaire et artistique

Avant de répondre aux questions de l’UE je pense, il me parait indispensable de clarifier les conditions de ce débat.
Le phénomène migratoire est un fait historiquement établi, rythmé depuis toujours par des problématiques économiques, politiques ou encore climatiques génératrices de son accroissement, comme en attestent des épisodes contemporains ayant nécessité l’intervention d’organismes internationaux et la mise en place d’un premier cadre relatif aux droits des réfugiés .
Récemment, la crise syrienne et son exposition médiatique ont rendu inévitable des questions plus profondes, auxquelles les opérateurs culturels se doivent participer, en complément et dialogue de responsabilités « primaires » qui incombent à chacun tant au plan humanitaire, économique, sanitaire ou politique. La singularité supposée de l'art et de la culture en ces matières ne saurait faire l'impasse sur ces enjeux fondamentaux. Les pays européens et les institutions européennes se doivent d’assumer ce préalable irréductible, tout en restant conscients que la prise en charge des réfugiés ou migrants concernent davantage le reste du monde, notamment les pays du Sud. La grande majorité des réfugiés venant de Syrie, se retrouvent dans cinq pays : Turquie, Liban, Jordanie, Irak et Égypte .La répartition mondiale des réfugiés est donc loin d’être homogène avec près de 9 réfugiés sur 10 se retrouvant dans des régions économiquement peu développées .
Au-delà du recensement de quelques pratiques ou expériences attachées à l’intégration des réfugiés et des migrants, il s’agit de porter une attention avisée sur la manière dont elles s’inscrivent dans une action plus durable, au regard d’un contexte singulier : une situation née de l’urgence et caractérisée par son aspect supposément éphémère.
L’enjeu plus fondamental ne serait-il pas une mise en droits de la situation des réfugiés ?
S’efforçant de trouver la capacité à se reconstruire, le plus souvent les personnes migrantes manquent de reconnaissance en tant qu’être humain. Or, la voie de l’émancipation et de la dignité humaine s’emprunte par l’exigence d’une richesse culturelle dans toute sa diversité, dès lors que la culture est admise comme un élément constitutif de l’identité de chacun. C’est pourquoi la reconnaissance et l’application des droits culturels s’avère primordiale, en ce qu’ils sont porteurs de sens et de valeurs pour les Droits de l’Homme, garantissant à chacun la liberté de vivre et de nourrir son identité culturelle. Les missions qui nous incombent comme opérateurs culturels sont un endroit possible de la mise en œuvre pratique de ces droits, par la construction de biens communs.
Pour alimenter et sauvegarder ce commun, l’action des acteurs culturels doit se développer dans une continuité, adressée à tous ceux qui vivent sur un même territoire : agir délibérément au nom du droit commun. La présence de réfugiés en Europe doit s’assumer comme un fait de société durable, partie de notre paysage quotidien : un élément de la mosaïque de la population d'ensemble à laquelle nous nous adressons, tout en prenant en compte ses singularités : langue, conditions de vie, moyens économiques…
En convoquant des propositions artistiques en tous terrains et pour tous, nous participons modestement de ce travail nécessaire de résilience : restaurer ou dévoiler d’autres possibles. D’où la revendication portée par l’ONG Clowns sans frontières de faire advenir un nouveau Droit de l’Homme : le droit à l’enfance, entendu comme le droit à l’émerveillement pour chacun de la naissance à la mort. Clowns sans frontières, un collectif international d'organisations dont le but est de mobiliser des artistes professionnels pour effectuer à titre bénévole des missions humanitaires en réalisant des spectacles (musique, marionnette, clown, danse…) auprès de populations vulnérables dans diverses parties du monde. CSF travaille notamment à apporter un soutien psychosocial aux personnes déplacées : migrants, réfugiés…, dans le monde entier.


Le processus d'inclusion commence par un état d'esprit des migrants ou réfugiés comme des populations européennes autour de valeurs de partage. En 2011, CSF France a décidé pour la première fois d'intervenir «à la maison» et a commencé à aller à Calais, dans le Nord du pays, sur la demande de l'ONG humanitaire française Médecins du monde, auprès de migrants. En 2015, avec l'augmentation de soudaine des migrants entrés en Europe, l'ensemble du mouvement CSF International s’est engagé dans diverses parties de l'Europe avec l’ensemble de la communauté humanitaire (en particulier le Haut-Commissariat aux Réfugiés) pour porter une assistance psychosociale aux migrants et aux réfugiés. Ces propositions artistiques ; issues du spectacle vivant, s’intègre dans des programmes de soutien d'urgence aux réfugiés et aux migrants :
- Melilla avec CLOWNS SANS FRONTIÈRES Espagne
- Macédoine, la Serbie, la Croatie avec CLOWNS SANS FRONTIÈRES Espagne
- Allemagne avec CLOWNS SANS FRONTIÈRES Allemagne
- France (Calais, Dunkerque) avec CLOWNS SANS FRONTIÈRES France
- Belgique avec CLOWNS SANS FRONTIÈRES Belgique
- Royaume-Uni avec CLOWNS SANS FRONTIÈRES Royaume-Uni
- Irlande avec CLOWNS SANS FRONTIÈRES Irlande
Ressources: Aller à Calais
En Egypte, issu de plus de dix ans de collaboration lors de missions de CSF France, un collectif de clowns Outa Hamra (Red Tomato) travaille avec les réfugiés de Syrie, d’Erythrée et du Soudan. Ces populations déplacées sont dans un état de grande exclusion. Outa Hamra a mis en place des ateliers de théâtre (financés par le HCR), dans les quartiers du Caire où les réfugiés connaissent des difficultés d'intégration. L'objectif est de redonner aux personnes déplacées l'accès à des souvenirs de bonheur et d'émotions positives. D’expérience cette démarche accroit la capacité à faire face aux problèmes quotidiens, comme à surmonter les traumatismes et souvenirs de guerre ou des déplacements, en recréant de nouveaux souvenirs de bonheur. Ce projet favorise l'intégration et la cohésion sociale entre communautés en les réunissant en un même endroit au cours des ateliers.

Le processus d’intégration les réfugiés ou des migrants commence par le traitement de leur arrivée et de leur accueil en Europe, notamment par le moyen et l’endroit où ils arrivent. Notre expérience de Clowns Sans Frontières nous enseigne que la présence sur des lieux d’arrivée (Grèce, Lampedusa…) ou de passage (Calsais…) n’a de sens que si elle abordée en complément d’une action artistique à long terme (ateliers de théâtre de Outa Hamra avec les réfugiés et la population égyptienne. De notre expérience, nous retenons aussi le besoin de prendre en considération les impacts émotionnels et humains des déplacements, de l’accueil comme des actions que nous proposons, participant de la reconstruction individuelle autant que des conditions d’intégration.

Dans ces diverses acceptions la culture est un lieu censé produire et traduire le creuset commun qui fait société : une volonté d'inclure (des Européens) et d’intégrer (des migrants et des réfugiés).
Quelques initiatives qui permettraient d'optimiser des démarches culturelles et artistiques comme outils d'intégration :
- favoriser les interactions et le dialogue entre les réfugiés ou les migrants et les Européens : connaissance mutuelle, compréhension interculturelle, prise en considération des deux parties
- encourager des projets communs.
- monter des partenariats avec des acteurs des ONG ou du secteur social (organisations locales, les centres communautaires, la Croix-Rouge, etc.). Mutualiser les savoir-faire des acteurs culturels ou artistiques avec les organisations humanitaires et afin d’accroitre les capacités réciproques.

Posted 4 years 5 months ago
image of Hiromi Maruoka

I live in Japan. I think our sense of reality about migrants and refugees is quite different from that in Europe.

However, when I was kindly invited to the plenary meeting of IETM in Stockholm in April 2011, right after the nuclear accident in Japan, and talking with a lot of friends and colleagues there, I had a sense of reality that I might be a refugee, for the first time in my life, and slightly understood what kind of horror and sadness a situation where one cannot live without help of other countries could impose on her/him.

I don’t have good knowledge of projects about the inclusion of refugees and migrants in Europe, and there haven’t really been such projects in Japan, so I would like to contribute two examples in Japan that might not be totally irrelevant.

An artist / architect Kyohei Sakaguchi, based in Kumamoto, Japan, has been working on such ideas as "mobile house" (a house with wheels that are legally considered as cars, so you don’t have to pay for the land) or "hunting in an urban environment," which suggest possibility of life that does not depend on the system of capitalism both practically and metaphorically. He established what he calls "New Government" in Kumamoto, appointing himself Prime Minister, and it accommodated a number of nuclear "refugees" from Fukushima (Kumamoto is about 1,500 km away from Fukushima). The experience of mobile house must have helped him do that. Just recently, a big earthquake hit Kumamoto. He must be thinking of something now. If you are interested, please visit his website (

There have also been counter-movements against what has been called "hate speech" on especially Korea, Korean people and Korean migrants. In the street, sometimes they throw even more violent jeers to hate speakers, play very loud noise music to make hate speech inaudible, etc.

I think these two examples speak for the fact that the awareness that the government doesn’t do anything and doesn’t even have an idea about the issues has been shared among artists and activists, and probably because of that, we tend to be extremist or fundamentalist even in our attempts to maintain the minimum requirement of hospitality. This extremist tendency also makes us skeptic about hospitality and inclusion as policy, and although I see this as a problem, perhaps the only thing that I can contribute to this discussion is the skepticism. What is / can be behind the promotion of inclusion? I suppose the best practice involves that question, and I would like to hear about an example of that kind of practice.

Posted 4 years 5 months ago
image of Stéphane Segreto-aguilar

Hey everybody!
I just wanted to share a beautiful text by Raymond Gabriel (Les Commandos Percu)... and I apologize in advance for the text is in only available in French!
The company is lauching a appeal for artists involvement in the refugee crisis....

“Ce fut une expérience forte et émouvante que de se glisser une semaine dans la jungle. Il y a des gens qui disent que ce n’est pas bien de dire « la jungle » parce qu’il s’en dégage une image de sauvagerie barbare. Moi j’aime bien, parce qu’à la vérité ce sont les premiers migrants qui nommaient ce lieu « jangal » qui signifie forêt (ou ce qu’il en reste), et que j’aime la forêt. Et puis, pour ce qui est de la sauvagerie barbare, il me semble que le monde entier est une jungle. En écoutant les applaudissements des migrants lorsque nous jouions, je me suis parfois demandé lequel avait tenté de nous piquer le téléphone, s’il y avait parmi eux des infiltrés de Daesh, s’il y avait des passeurs véreux qui extorquent leur dernier argent aux malheureux. Mais il y avait aussi ces visages souriants rougis par le froid qui dépassaient des capuches, ces cris de joie, ces types qui dansaient comme des dieux, ces enfants ébahis dont c’était probablement le premier spectacle.
Alors si vous avez un peu de temps de compassion disponible, si cette situation vous révolte parfois, si vous pouvez adapter votre expérience de la rue, prenez des bottes, comme me disait Hervée De Lafond, allez-y, foncez. Prenez des contacts, organisez un convoyage de dons pour remplir votre camion, passez donner un coup de main à l’Auberge des Migrants, jouez votre spectacle, préparez-vous à vivre quelque chose de fort.”

Posted 4 years 4 months ago
image of Stéphane Segreto-aguilar

and another interesting project, the Silent University, "an autonomous knowledge exchange platform by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants"....

Posted 4 years 4 months ago
image of Christophe Blandin-estournet

Same one in English
Christophe Blandin-Estournet
Director of Théâtre de l’Agora, scène nationale of Evry and Essonne territory
President of Clowns Without Borders – humanitarian and artistic NGO

First of all, I’d like to insist on clarifying the circumstances of this debate, before answering the EU questions.
The phenomenon of migration is historically established and has constantly been altered by economic, political or climatic issues leading to its growth. As a matter of fact, several contemporary incidents have already required the intervention of some international organisms as well as the setting up of a primal framework related to the refugees ‘rights .
The Syrian crisis and its media exposure have lately raised crucial and unavoidable subjects, in which cultural managers have to take part besides the “primary” responsibilities behoving to each and every one, as much from a humanitarian viewpoint as from an economic, sanitary or political one. Supposing that it is singular to involve arts and culture in these matters does not mean to leave out these fundamental concerns. European institutions and states must lay this irreducible groundwork, bearing in mind that the rest of the world - the southern countries especially - is even more implicated in the care of refugees or migrants. Most of the refugees coming from Syria are localized in five places: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt . Therefore, the worldwide distribution of refugees is far from being homogeneous while nine out of ten refugees are concentrated in least developed areas regarding their economic situation .
Beyond the enumeration of some experiments and practices accompanying the refugees and migrants integration, we should wisely care about the way they could all be part of a sustainable action, taking place in an uncommon context: an emergency circumstance which we assume to be temporary.
What about considering this matter in an even more fundamental way, that is to say the establishment of rights related to the refugees ‘conditions?
While they struggle so as to find the ability to recover from their trauma, they often have to face a lack of recognition as human beings. Yet, it is by asserting a cultural richness and diversity that we can pave the way to emancipation and human dignity, considering that culture is an essential part of one’s identity. That is why the acknowledgement and application of cultural rights appears to be elemental. In fact, they hold meaningful values regarding the Human Rights, by guaranteeing to anyone the freedom to live and foster their own cultural identity. As cultural managers, the missions in which we are committed constitute a potential space to implement these rights in so far as we aim to build a common wellbeing.
In order to serve and preserve a “common good”, the cultural operators have to develop a continuous action by spreading it towards everyone living in a same territory. This is an intentional act in the name of the commonweal. Refugees' presence in Europe must be considered as a durable societal fact, which is to be part of our daily reality. That is to say, we are aiming to act towards the whole diverse population while considering its singularities: languages, conditions of living, economic resources...
Setting up adjustable and accessible artistic projects for everyone is a humble way to participate in an essential resilience process – restoring or revealing other possibilities. Hence the NGO Clowns Without Borders ‘claim to establish a new Human Right: the childhood right, meaning the right for anyone from birth to death to be amazed. Clowns Without Borders is an international group aiming to organise humanitarians missions, by mobilising volunteered professional artists to do shows (music, clown, dance, puppet...) for vulnerable populations in several parts of the world. CWB is particularly caring to bring a psychosocial help to the displaced people – migrants, refugees or others, in the whole world.

The inclusion process begins by a common state of mind between migrants or refugees as well as European populations regarding the values of sharing. In 2011, CWB France decided for the first time to intervene “at home” towards migrants, starting to take place in Calais, North of France, on the request of the humanitarian NGO Doctors of the World. In 2015, the sudden increase of migrants entering Europe led the CWB International group to be committed in various European territories, with the support of the whole humanitarian community (especially the High Commissioner for Refugees), to offer a psychosocial assistance towards migrants and refugees. These following artistic performances are part of emergency help programs for migrants and refugees:
- Greece (Lesvos) with CLOWNS WITHOUT BORDERS Sweden & USA
- Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia with CLOWNS WITHOUT BORDERS Spain
- Germany with CLOWNS WITHOUT BORDERS Germany
- Denmark with CLOWNS WITHOUT BORDERS Sweden
- France (Calais, Dunkerque) with CLOWNS WITHOUT BORDERS France
- Finland with CLOWNS WITHOUT BORDERS Finland
- Belgium with CLOWNS WITHOUT BORDERS Belgium
- Ireland with CLOWNS WITHOUT BORDERS Ireland

In Egypt, the clowns group Outa Hamra (Red Tomato) – which has collaborated with CWB France for ten years – is working with refugees from Syria, Eritrea and Sudan. These displaced populations are in an important situation of exclusion. Outa Hamra has set up theatre’s workshops (funded by the HCR) in Cairo's quarters where refugees are facing huge difficulties about their integration. The aim is to make these displaced people able to connect with memories of happiness and positive feelings. This approach increases the ability to face daily problems, as well as recovering from traumas and experiences of war or moving, by creating new memories of bliss. This project fosters integration and social cohesion between communities by gathering them in a same place during the workshops.

The refugees and migrants' integration process starts with the undertake of their arrival and their welcoming in Europe, especially through the way and the place they arrive. Our CWB experience taught us that a presence in the arrival places (Greece, Lampedusa...) or transit places (Calais...) can only be wise with the complement of a long-term artistic action (as the previous example of workshops with Outa Hamra in Egypt). We also learnt from our experience that it is necessary to pay attention to the emotional and human impacts of the people displacements, their welcoming as well as the actions we realise with them, contributing both to the individual reconstruction and the integration conditions.

Considering all its meanings, culture is supposed to produce and reveal the common place to constitute the principles of society: a willing to include (from the Europeans) and to integrate (migrants and refugees).
These are some initiatives which would optimise cultural and artistic actions as tools for integration:
-fostering interactions and dialogues between refugees or migrants and Europeans: mutual knowledge, intercultural understanding and the need to take into account both parts
-encouraging common projects
-setting up partnerships with operators from NGO or the social field (local organisations, community centres, French Red Cross...), and sharing the expertise between cultural or artistic operators and humanitarian organisations in order to enhance their reciprocal abilities.

Posted 4 years 4 months ago
image of Linda Di pietro

I would like to bring to the discussion some examples from international and italian art scene:
The Silent University -, a platform of knowledge exchange between refugees and other citizens,

whom responsible is Ahmet Öğüt.
The projects made by CAMP a nonprofit exhibition venue for art discussing questions of displacement, migration, immigration, and asylum.
Tania Bruguera - immigrant movement international e Migrant People Party, cuban artist working worldwide on the identity of immigrants .

Bouchra Ouizingen - moroccan artisti living in france, she is presenting in the most important festivals around europe a project called Corbeaux involving 40 immigrant women in a collective choir. .
Wochenklausur (AT), an activist group interested in using political strategies in the arts and vice versa.

On the Italian side
the documentary film project "Io sto con la sposa" conceived and realized by a group of italians and immigrants

The project Human from Sardegna Teatro (whome responsible is IETM member Massimo Mancini) which implies the realization of a Migrants news journal called Tg Nois.

Posted 4 years 4 months ago
image of Ryanne Koulyras-de boer

In May 2017 there will be a three-day forum set at the tri-point in Vaals, where the borders of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands meet.

This Forum will be a political arena where 100 representatives of different refugee collectives who are fighting for their rights in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium will meet. Among them will be representatives of the Refugees from Oranienplatz in Berlin, the refugees from ‘Lampedusa in Hamburg’, the sans papiers collectives from Brussels, ‘We Are Here’ from Amsterdam and ‘Right to Exist’ from The Hague.
The activity had been granted within the program of The Arts of Impact.

Posted 4 years 4 months ago
image of Ryanne Koulyras-de boer

The In Limbo Embassy is another initiative, made possible with a grant from The Art of Impact, I would like to share with you:

In Limbo Embassy is a traveling embassy that represents refugees ‘in limbo’: those who are caught between two stools.
Many of them do not feel represented by their own Embassy or by the media. With undocumented refugees as ambassadors, In Limbo creates awareness about their situation and involves society in this issue. This Embassy functions as a neutral meeting place that travels to people facilitating direct contact between citizens and asylum seekers in Limbo.

Posted 4 years 4 months ago
image of Ryanne Koulyras-de boer

The What Design Can Do Refugee Challenge is a global design competition that calls on the creative community to come up with game-changing ideas for accommodating, connecting, integrating and helping the personal development of refugees.

The challenge specifically focuses on refugees in urban areas, as nearly 60 percent of the world’s 20 million refugees now live in urban areas.
What Design Can Do (WDCD), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the IKEA Foundation invite designers, creative thinkers and imaginative trouble-shooters from all countries and disciplines, including refugees themselves, to take part.

Posted 4 years 4 months ago
image of Elena Di federico

Thank for all these inputs! Our new publication 'Creation and Displacement. Developing new narratives around migration' is online now (see link) and in the Annex we've collected all these and other projects suggested by IETM members. Let us know what you think!

And also if you use this material to get in touch with others in your country or abroad... let's keep this conversation open!

Posted 4 years 3 months ago
image of Kenneth Davidson

In the 1890s in Glasgow the (post-Risorgimento) Italian community used to set the prices for city’s fish and chips.

At the same time, Glasgow was welcoming Jews escaping pogroms in Russia and the Ukraine and Irish fleeing aftermaths of the Famine and civil unrest (seeking work in the shipyards and railways). And we were seeing the tail end of forced clearances of Highland populations in Scotland. Then again, all cities are places of migrants. And the world was different then. And we know the term ‘urban drift’.

55% of current refugees to Europe are 18-34; Eurostat. And we hear an ageing Europe needs new blood to carry on in the manner it has become accustomed to. The problem all the same is that we can not pretend carrying on as before is an option any more.

In the 1980s, in Edinburgh I used to make a point of speaking to the (African — Kenyan, Ugandan, Zimbabwean; Western Saharan) refugees. ‘All’ were political refugees. Almost all had death sentences on their heads in their own countries — mostly for membership of the ANC and/or communist sympathies. Today the situation is different. Those «refugees» I have occasional conversations with today (Somalis, Syrians, Iraqis, Kurds, Afghans) are displaced by war and drought. (And if pressed), they talk about temperatures and conditions which make agriculture and day-to-day living impossible at ‘home’.

(The “Middle East” is not alone in having its worst sustained drought in at least 900 years. And international and national media show glimpses of the devastation visited on cities in their countries by both their and our militaries, not simply “ISIS”).

Nonetheless, the ‘foreign’ voices I encounter in going around today are not from “refugees” alone any more. Across the past fifteen years particularly, I have found myself more and more talking to (among others): Spanish, Italians, Germans, Norwegians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Hungarians, Polish, French and Greeks (and “Russians”); all working and living in Glasgow. If I try to explain how things are different now from before, it becomes difficult. More fluid. Local histories. National histories. Personal histories. Other histories. All these. At the end, “it is all about people” — (I keep saying that). «Culture» doesn't stop with refugees.

Posted 4 years 3 months ago
image of Patricia PARDO

I do not share the idea of ​​using art to "inclusion" in the sense of using it as a tool for integration because, in fact, I do not share the idea of ​​"normalize" anyone.

I do not share the premise of "integration or socialization" of refugees or migrants under any program, whether or not cultural.
In any case I think we should use artistic creators or culture or art as a complement to migration policies of the European Union.
The artists do not share the immigration policies of the European Union and do not want to be part of any related procedure.

Neither the European Union-Creative Europe should fall into obscenity paying projects to speak about refugees, about the injustice that means that the European Union itself has obviated the human rights treaties.
This would be obscene and cynical. And artists and cultural workers do not want to be part of that cynicism and obscenity.

Art and cultural activities should be a free tool to express themselves, and from where you reflect or show beauty.
I do believe, then, that art and cultural activities can be loved by those who come and those who are already here.
We want that art and cultural activities relief the arrival of migrants and also we want them to be part of it, as creators and audience. As the same naturalness or intentionality as the citizens with papers who live in this Europe do.
In this sense it would be interesting for migrants and refugees, all of them:
1. They can have information and free access to all artistic expressions (theaters, cinemas, museums, festivals, concerts, etc.) That take place in European countries where they arrive.
2. They can have information and free artistic formations (art performance, musical and audiovisual) imparted in European countries they arrive.
3. Migrants with creating career would be supported to create their company in their new countries (exemption of taxes, promotion of their companies...)
4. Support to European companies and European creators to hire migrants who were already artists or those who have artistic curiosities and would like to work in a company performing arts, cinema, painting, music, etc.

Posted 4 years 1 month ago