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.
Described by the Guardian as “one of the finest and bravest free festivals in the capital”, 2011’s Celebrating Sanctuary held on the edge of the Thames near the National Theatre saw a range of creative people come together to mark the beginning of Refugee Week with fusing musical traditions, celebrating them in doing so. Acts included debut collaboration between Hari Vrndavn Sivanesan and Omar Puente, fusing of Asian and Cuban styles and the fusions did not end there. A specially commissioned work called Home Is Where the Harp Is, teamed harpists from Armenia and Iceland with players of the Ethiopian krar and west African kora and the event ended with the rousing harmonica player and guitarist Rory McLeod, and the Krar Collective from Ethiopia.