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ArtReach makes great art possible and accessible, connecting art with grass roots and diverse communities to forge creative engagement

A ‘Hidden’ performance and digital art display sees Journeys Festival International Portsmouth launched in style.

October 23rd, 2018|Comments Off on A ‘Hidden’ performance and digital art display sees Journeys Festival International Portsmouth launched in style.

Members of the local refugee and asylum seeker community were key guests alongside Festival partners, stakeholders and dignitaries as ArtReach launched the third annual Journeys Festival International Portsmouth at Aspex Gallery on Friday night.

As we celebrated the launch of the Festival, which runs from 19-28 October, guests were able to view elements of the large-scale digital art exhibition, Look Up: Searching for Home. Artist Svetlana Ochkovskaya was on hand throughout the evening to discuss her work and to highlight where this mesmerising digital art will appear on big screens around the city throughout the Festival.

Opening words were delivered by David Hill, Founding Director and Chair of ArtReach, followed by an important message from Councillor Steve Pitt, Deputy Leader of Portsmouth City Council, who reinforced the importance of the Festival for this city and stated Council intentions to work with ArtReach and the Festival team together in the future. There was also a moving reading by Shamila Dhana, from British Red Cross, of what it means being an asylum seeker in Portsmouth – words written by representatives from the community.

Forest Forge Theatre Company joined in the launch as they offered a ten minute taster of their performance ‘Hidden’, a play about two young people who find a refugee in the sea near Hayling Island. ‘Hidden’ was subsequently performed in full to local audiences at Portsmouth Guildhall the following day.

The launch event was hosted at Aspex, the contemporary art gallery on Gun Wharf Quays, and a key Journeys Festival International partner. To see the full programme head to Journeys Festival International Portsmouth

Manchester audiences marvelled at world-class art in a myriad of forms!

October 17th, 2018|Comments Off on Manchester audiences marvelled at world-class art in a myriad of forms!

From Moss Side to Moston, Manchester audiences turned out in their thousands to witness a wide array of arts, events, live music and conversations as part of a very successful third year for ArtReach’s, Journeys Festival International Manchester.

Outdoor exhibition, Home+Identity by artist Kate Daudy, , witnessed large scale art work installed at Selfridges, The Great Northern and the National Football Museum alongside smaller scale street interventions. Daudy’s text based work involved a series of positive messages created using felt fonts which were dotted around the city centre in unexpected locations.

The launch of the Festival itself, included poetry, theatre and a rehearsed reading directed by Box of Tricks Theatre of a play last seen by the public during World Refugee year 1959-1960. Take Back Theatre also presented Be//Longing, a powerful, script in hand performance placed strategically outside of artist Matilda Glen’s touching installation inspired by housing in the Calais Jungle called Crossing Borders.

Throughout the week, people were invited along to local libraries to see performance poetry that was created as a reaction to an artefact from Manchester Museum. Ancient Objects, New Writing hosted four artists, who created four unique stories, about four artefacts, which were performed in four locations across the city.

There was a Journeys Festival International first as audiences were invited along to the UK premiere of Soufra, a film about a long term resident of a refugee camp who has successfully created her own catering company from inside the camp!

Plus thousands turned out to support a full day of live music from around the world at the music stage in Manchester Cathedral Gardens. Journeys Live celebrated music from around the globe and featured a community choir who performed alongside professional musicians in front of local audiences.

Though there were many more elements to the fantastic ten day Festival, the final day, Sunday was all about creativity. Working in partnership with Celebrating Syria, the Family Creative Celebration day saw hundreds of families, from many different backgrounds, pour through the doors at The Whitworth. Families had a great time building dens, making Origami creations, learning Arabic Calligraphy and kite making in the stunning surroundings of this amazing art gallery.

The Festival has been a marvellous way to showcase the work of exceptional artists and exploring refugee and asylum seeker experiences through great art. Thanks to funding from Arts Council England, Film Hub North, Film Audience Network, Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts and Humanities Research Council and Manchester City Council we’re already making plans for Journeys Festival International Manchester 2019!

Poetry and Performances see Journeys Festival International Manchester Launch with Resounding Success.

October 5th, 2018|Comments Off on Poetry and Performances see Journeys Festival International Manchester Launch with Resounding Success.


Over one hundred people joined the ArtReach team in Manchester to celebrate the launch of the third annual Journeys Festival International Manchester which runs from 4 – 14 October. Guests joined the ArtReach team at The Whitworth on a calm autumnal evening and were treated to a myriad of cultural activities to usher in the full Festival period.
A script in hand performance of James Brabazon’s, ‘People of Nowhere’, originally performed as part of World Refugee Year 1959-1960, was the official precursor to the launch. Guests and members of the public were offered drinks to accompany speeches by David Hill, Founding Director and Chair of ArtReach alongside Professor Peter Gatrell from University of Manchester and Mustafa Alachkar from Rethink Rebuild. Peter spoke at length about the importance of the ‘Reckoning with Refugeedom’ project that feeds into all three of the Journeys Festival International programmes in 2018. Mustafa shared the organisation’s Celebrating Syria events that complement JFI.

Audience members were then asked to join the team at Matilda Glen’s remarkable installation, ‘Crossing Borders’ that is displayed outside The Whitworth for the duration of the Festival, and for a performance by Take Back Theatre. Glen’s installation explores the hardships endured by displaced people and uses the power of art to challenge media reporting of the current migration climate. Surely, no more suitable setting could be found for the powerful performance by Take Back Theatre, as dusk descended on the gallery and gardens the audience was hushed by their dramatic portrayal of the reality behind news headlines.

The evening was rounded off with an intriguing poetic performance by Firoozeh Fozouni, who performed ‘Dear Poet, Come to My Rescue…’, a response to the Ancient Objects New Writing Project in both her native tongue and English. Ancient Objects New writing is a project threading throughout the JFI Manchester Festival and as this was Fozouni’s first full public performance of the poem in her second language it seemed a fitting closing performance to a wonderful evening.

Just as the night drew to a close audiences went on their way, programmes in hand, with a lot to look forward to as Journeys Festival International Manchester delivers across the city until 14 October.

To see the full programme head to https://www.journeysfestival.com/manchesterjfi

ArtReach Team Changes

September 27th, 2018|Comments Off on ArtReach Team Changes

These are exciting times for ArtReach, as we embed our new Arts Council England NPO status; develop the organisation’s governance with a strong new, diverse Board; initiate new strands of artistic and consultancy work; and seek to develop the theme of Journeys Festival International with a year-round JOURNEYS programme.

Supporting and consolidating these changes is an important structural development, that will see our experienced team member, Simon Brown, taking on the role of ArtReach Managing Director from October 2018.

Founding Director, David Hill, will continue in the strategic role of ArtReach Founding Director and Chair, following a transition period through to March 2019. David is supported by an experienced group of Board Members comprising Vice Chair, Anand Bhatt, Azam Mamujee, Vicki Arogundade, Clare Stirzaker and Richard Sykes.

Working to Simon Brown as MD and operational leader, ArtReach now has nine team members based in its main office at LCB Depot in Leicester, including Executive Producers for Journeys Festival International (Maddie Smart) and Night of Festivals (Sam Javid). There are also ArtReach offices in Manchester and Portsmouth from where the company delivers key Festivals and other consultancy and event projects. Consultancy delivery is led by Arts and Heritage Consultant, Lynn Simmonds, whilst the overarching Marketing and Communications Manager is Gary Cicinskas.

We look forward to working with many existing and potential new partners as ArtReach continues to evolve and grow its local, national and international work.

JFI Leicester reaches increased audiences – despite the weather!

August 31st, 2018|Comments Off on JFI Leicester reaches increased audiences – despite the weather!

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.

World Refugee Day

June 21st, 2018|Comments Off on World Refugee Day

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.



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.


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.