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Refugee Arts Networks:
Extending the Frame

John Thaw Studio (University of Manchester) and Online
TUESDAY, 2 NOVEMBER 2021, 1.30-4.30PM GMT


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? 

This panel discussion will bring together refugee artists advocacy networks to discuss new models for resilient creative networks, featuring grassroots organisations from the UK, France, Germany and Portugal.

We will reach out to communities of artists, scholars, cultural workers and policymakers, aiming to increase visibility and opportunities for refugee artists and groups, to share experiences and practices across geographic and cultural settings.


The hybrid event will facilitate 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.



For over a decade theatre and performance created by refugee artists has played an important role in community arts programmes. While the practices, aesthetics and legacies of refugee arts and artists has gained momentum, less attention has been given to the importance of refugee arts advocacy networks. Since the peak of the so-called European ‘refugee crisis’, refugee artists have formed advocacy networks to promote inclusivity and diversity across the cultural sector. These networks have been active in addressing issues of displacement, identity and belonging, structural inequalities, and legacies of colonialism. They have developed new policy visions focused on social, structural and institutional change. This event will bring together some of these international networks to discuss new ways of cooperation, art-making and support alongside discussing political agency and identity politics.


Migrants in Theatre, UK
Migrants in Theatre is a movement made up of first-generation migrant theatre artists and theatre companies who joined efforts to campaign for more and better representation of UK based migrant theatre artists in British theatre. The movement comprises artists from a broad and diverse range of backgrounds and experiences and is open to migrant theatre makers in a multitude of roles, from actors, directors, set designers, playwrights, to stage managers, arts administrators and board members.



MENA Arts is a new arts organisation for UK-based professionals who are connected to the MENA+ region (Middle East, North Africa and the surrounding area). We celebrate the talent of our membership. Strive to be at the heart of conversations around our identity. Be our own support network. Lobby for the appropriate representation. Advocate for change to increase access and opportunities for employment.

L’Atelier des Artistes en Exil [Agency of Artists in Exile], France
The Agency of Artists in Exile (AA-E) works to identify artists in exile from all origins and disciplines, accompanies them according to their situations and their needs, provides them with workspaces and puts them in contact with professionals (French and European network), in order to give them the means to practise their disciplines and to re-establish themselves in France. AA-E is also developing its own multidisciplinary festival, Visions d’exil (Visions of Exile), in cooperation with partner venues.
PostHeimat Network, Germany
PostHeimat Network is a continuously developing and progressing network in the field of performing arts, addressing the topics of migration, refuge, identity, multilingualism, and power structures within artistic practices and institutions. PostHeimat was established in 2018 by the artistic groups BOAT PEOPLE PROJEKT (Göttingen), COLLECTIVE MA’LOUBA (Mülheim an der Ruhr), EXIL ENSEMBLE (Berlin), HAJUSOM (Hamburg), OPEN BORDER ENSEMBLE (Munich) and RUHRORTER (Mülheim an der Ruhr). More artists, groups, institutions, and researchers are becoming part of the network.

UNA- União Negras das Artes [Union of Black Artists], Portugal
UNA’s main objectives are the promotion, elevation and strengthening of black representation in the Portuguese arts sector, as well as the recognition and enhancement of the intangible heritage of the black population in Portugal. UNA’s main focus is to contribute to the development of  affirmative action measures in the cultural sector, in conjunction with artists, social movements, public and private organisations.


The Drama Department at the University of Manchester has a strong history of research around issues of migration, refugeedom, asylum and their connections to a range of arts practices. Initiated by the In Place of War project (2004-2008) this research trajectory was continued by Dr Alison Jeffers who has published several works in this field. A successful bid for AHRC funds in 2020 led to the research project now being carried out by Ambrose Musiyiwa ‘Listening to the Voices of Refugee Artists’. This is a collaborative doctoral award with Community Arts North West in Manchester.


Community Arts North West (CAN) is a long-established Manchester-based arts organisation and Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. We build deep, long-lasting connections with communities across Greater Manchester, developing unique, creative projects with people whose voices are not normally heard in the mainstream. CAN has led the field in community arts since 1978 and is at the cutting edge of intercultural arts practice. We have particular expertise and interest in arts and migration.
Through exciting and high-quality creative projects with artists, communities and young people, CAN share powerful creative work; shining a light on new talent and fresh voices, and enriching Greater Manchester’s cultural landscape.CAN’s work is firmly rooted in social justice and driven by ethical values.


Migrant Dramaturgies Network is a transnational collective of theatre professionals, researchers and cultural workers that forms part of New Tides Platform, UK, an independent organisation working on cross-cultural exchanges in performing arts. MDN is a platform for exchange and knowledge sharing between thinkers, theatre makers and organisations involved in migrant theatre on various levels of artistic and cultural creation and development. As a collaborative venture, we facilitate research programmes as well as arts & cultural projects together with international partners and theatre-makers in order to bring together a diversity of perspectives and expand understanding on migration and theatre.

More information on participating networks and the panelists check out the BOOKLET

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