Produced by Counterpoints Arts, Celebrating Sanctuary is a landmark event that plays a crucial role in promoting Refugee Week to London and the whole of the UK. Because of the sheer size, variety and vibrancy of the events, the breadth of refugee cultures, communities and art forms that it promotes and its locations, Celebrating Sanctuary London does a huge amount to promote the key objectives of Refugee Week. It helps to counter negative opinions about refugees and educate the general public about the contribution that refugee communities make to life in the UK.
By bringing together people from refugee and host communities, we offer a unique shared experience, a chance to see, hear, taste, smell, and partake of the cultural riches of refugee communities from across the globe in one place. Better understanding of where refugees come from and how they contribute to London is essential in making those strong communities we all want to live in.
One of our main focuses is to help promote musicians and artists from refugee communities to the public, media and key influences within the arts world. CSL sets artists in front of a wide international audience that they might not otherwise reach. It fosters new and established artists and provides them with opportunities to develop their work through collaborations, introductions to promoters and festival organisers. Over the years we have supported hundreds of artists and aim to support a new ‘crop’ each year.
This year saw the debut of Fame Asylum, described by the Guardian as “a bold alliance between a refugee organisation, an artist and a TV company” coming together to create an unlikely boy band at Celebrating Sanctuary, the festival that launched Refugee Week on London’s South Bank. Proponents of a positive conception of migrant issues, Richard Dedomenici and the band aim to draw interest to the popular format of boyband music vehicles and use that interest as a launchpad towards further discussion of refugee issues.
As Almir Koldzic, Refugee Week co-ordinator, says: ‘It’s something that Refugee Week is trying to do on a much larger scale – it’s a positive approach to trying to talk about refugee issues so that we do not relate to them only as statistics … as they are often presented in the media.’ You can read about Fame Asylum here.