From 5-7 October 2016 Counterpoints Arts travelled to Dartington Hall for a retreat dedicated to the Arts and Social Change, with a special focus on Migration and Displacement.
During the retreat Dartington became home to a diverse group of people drawn from the arts, activism, advocacy, philanthropy and education.
This was a timely retreat tackling an urgent topic through the lens of arts and culture. Mixing lively workshops, presentations, performances and screenings from an exciting line-up of artists, the retreat aimed to connect people and organisations, to enable them to think and creatively imagine new ways of working and co-producing in increasingly challenging times.
The arts and its ability to translate the essence of the human story was at the very heart of this retreat. It featured a screening of Yasmin Fedda’s award winning film ‘Queens of Syria’; a conversation between Devon-based poet, Alice Oswald, and the passionate new voice of Kayo Chingonyi; a magical collaboration between Syrian ney musician, Louai Alhenawi and members of the indie band Revere, plus a performance by the virtuoso Syrian kanun player, Maya Youssef.
The performances were preceded by a bold and moving installation, camped on the grounds of Dartington, called ‘Refugees Welcome’. Performance artist and activist, Alketa Xhafa-Mripa, used her own memories of receiving a warm welcome as a Kosovan refugee to the UK in the 1990s, to draw people into a public conversation about the nature of ‘welcome’ in the UK today.
We were delighted to be working with Dartington Hall. The place, the surrounding landscape and its identity is very special, not least because of its long history of giving refuge to the globally displaced and its enduring passion for socially engaged arts. We were also pleased to be joined by the members of the local Beyond Borders Totnes group, who have been working tirelessly on welcoming asylum seekers and refugees to their community.
The retreat was presented in association with and support from Unbound Philanthropy and the Social Change Initiative.