ArtReach makes great art possible and accessible, connecting art with grass roots and diverse communities to forge creative engagement
In spite of the changeable weather, larger audiences than ever supported and enjoyed the exciting range of high quality art on offer at Journeys Festival International (JFI) Leicester.
The 10-day Festival (17-26 August), celebrating the talents of refugee artists, included a powerful and eclectic range of work from the screening of world famous artist and activist, Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow to a Pop-Up exhibition of artwork from the Calais Jungle.
Peppered throughout the ten days were special activities such as the New Walk Museum Takeover offering a Saturday of creative workshops in the museum environment and world cookery demonstrations at Soft Touch Arts.
There was the chance to gain a better insight into artist and photographer, Farhad Berahman’s exceptional “postage-stamp” LOOK UP exhibition with an Art Walk and Coffee Shop Conversation. Led by the artist and Leicester Print Workshop, attendees finished the evening with complementary tea and cake!
A great many events took place under Arabella Dorman’s powerful installation, Suspended in Leicester Cathedral. A fantastic partner to JFI the Cathedral witnessed a series of moving music events, debates and moving image, including stories of refugees and asylum seekers from the LGBT+ community.
Naturally, a highlight of the Festival was the jam-packed finale Weekender.
Saturday featured a day full of newly commissioned Street Theatre performances alongside a spectacular VOICES parade, all part of our European project, funded by Creative Europe. The parade was the fruit of several weeks of workshops with participant volunteers enjoying crafts and performance rehearsals with SBC Theatre and Enter Edem, and including a final rehearsal week before the Saturday performance. Their work paid off as passersby were treated to a bright and colourful parade travelling from three different locations in the city centre. The dancing and revelry culminated in a finale performance in Jubilee Square where the group sang uplifting messages of “welcome” to their audience.
Bookending this were a variety of VOICE performances. Parrabbola Theatre gave families the chance to experiment with making beautiful wind-powered music during their performance, Wheeze: Winds of Change. Many loved the ArtReach commission of an interactive large scale musical instrument, before the Generalissima and her evil henchman came to spoil the fun in a performance cleverly using the universality of music to sidestep language barriers.
Following this, another VOICES performance, Arte Studio’s One Table and Five Chairs, Or Actually Six wowed audiences. A seemingly simple game of tables, chairs and costume, the dance theatre piece, created by a company from Rome, explored boundaries and identity and held a large audience in fascination.
Then the final VOICES performance saw Teatrul National Radu Stance (Sibiu, Romania) combine street art, theatre, dance and music in Behind the Wall.
For Sunday’s JFI Weekender Music Programme, audiences kept up morale thanks to plentiful free tea and coffee from Syria and Morocco. Their cheerfulness maintained a feeling of warmth in the midst of the pretty continuous rain. Indeed, the artists bounced off this positive audience energy to in turn encourage everyone to dance and sing all the way from Lydia Unsudimi’s opening performance to Krar Collective’s finale.
Ending the day was new writing from Michael Morpurgo in Safe Passage and the popular screening of Another News Story at Phoenix Cinema. Both created a satisfying conclusion to this year’s eighth outing of the Festival.
Journeys Festival International Leicester continues to feel welcome in its home city as it again saw a successful 10 days of theatre, music, art, films and workshops, bringing communities together in multicultural Leicester.
Wednesday 20 June was World Refugee Day. ArtReach through Journeys 2018 organised events in Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth, that proved very popular with local communities in each city. Read more about these inspirational events and see some great pictures below! #WorldRefugeeDay
Refugee Week 2018 continues until Sunday 24 June and you can find all the events here.
Wednesday evening saw the launch of Suspended at Leicester Cathedral. Suspended is an art installation by artist Arabella Dorman composed of hundreds of items of clothing discarded by refugees upon their arrival on the island of Lesbos.
Mohammed Yahya, a Mozambican-born rapper and spoken word artist, performed his unique brand of soulful and compassionate lyricism with energy and emotion to mark the launch, got everyone on their feet and brought incredible atmosphere to the evening. It was a night to remember!
This exhibition will remain in place throughout the summer and will end following the conclusion of Journeys Festival International, which takes place in Leicester on 17-26 August.
SIMO LAGNAWI GIG
We were delighted to have Ambassador of Gnawa Culture in the UK, Simo Lagnawi at The Wedgewood Room in Portsmouth. Simo endeavours to spread understanding of the sacred Gnawa tradition, and to introduce his own movements of Gnawa fusion to wider audiences. On Wednesday, he was supported by Portsmouth based Hip-Hop, Jazz, Reggae band Omar Baba.
This was such a successful and inspiring event as part of Portsmouth Festivities Refugee Week celebrations in partnership with Journeys Festival International and The People’s Lounge.
QUEER CAFE TAKEOVER
At HOME cafe bar in Manchester we had an inspiring night, as we teamed up with Lesbian Immigration Support Group (LISG) to celebrate diversity and the rights of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers and refugees in Manchester, through live music from young Eritrean singer Neda Naser, great art, craft activities and a quiz.
We were delighted to live stream part of the evening. If you missed it, don’t worry you can watch the video on our Facebook page here.
This project was supported by a grant from Superbia. Superbia Grants provide financial support for LGBT events as part of Manchester Pride’s commitment to the quality and diversity of cultural events taking place throughout the year in Greater Manchester.
MIGRATE exhibition is at the Lightbox at LCB Depot all week for Refugee Week 2018 and World Refugee Day. MIGRATE is a Unicef NextGen exhibition presenting new photography exploring global migration by eight international photographers.
We have already had a great evening launch, an artist talk and coming next is a Free Polaroid workshop on Saturday 23 June between 11-2PM. You can see the exhibition all week until Saturday and book for the workshop here.
Night of Festivals shines a spotlight on Hounslow’s rich heritage
Night of Festivals will return to Bell Square & Hounslow High Street for a fourth year running. Thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, this year’s festival will feature a specially designed ‘pop-up museum’. Community researchers have been working with Hounslow’s Local Studies Department to reveal the people, places and stories that make the town tick. Throughout the festival, audiences can visit the ‘pop-up museum’ for free to explore this new material.
Alongside this research, artist Kully Rehal has been into four of the local primary schools to work with over 300 hundred students producing flags & banners depicting some of the key moments and stories from the town’s past. School groups will parade their artwork through the High Street as part of the wider festival which takes place on 9 – 10 June.
For more information and programme announcements see www.nightoffestivals.com
The ArtReach team is thrilled to have been selected to help the York Cultural Leaders Group and Make it York develop a new long-term Cultural Strategy for the city.
With a wealth of artistic and heritage activity and attractions, York already holds UNESCO City of Media Arts status and is ambitious to further develop its iconic cultural programme. The city hosts seven million visitors a year, but is determined that local residents should be key beneficiaries of exciting long-term cultural development.
ArtReach will be consulting with the sector and with local people extensively through summer 2018 with the aim to have a Cultural Strategy in place by December.
We are delighted to welcome two new team members to the ArtReach “family”.
Gary Cicinskas joins us from 21 May as our new Marketing and Communications Manager. Gary has until recently been Programme Manager for the Appetite Creative People and Places project in Stoke-on-Trent. Prior to that Gary worked with Lincolnshire Dance, as well as establishing and leading his own Workshop Network business to promote and deliver a range of creative participation.
In early July we welcome Lynn Simmonds who joins us from her current role as Development Manager at St John Smith’s Square in London. Lynn will be working as Arts and Heritage Consultant with ArtReach and has previous experience with Music for Youth, as Manager of a Youth Music Action Zone, and as a Charity Consultant with New Philanthropy Capital.
We are very much looking forwards to the input both new team members will bring.