Supporting refugees – Key moments

Key moments

We have initially agreed on the following (though we can add to these over time):

1. Refugee week: 20 – 26 June 2016

How to engage in Refugee Week:
Refugee Week runs from 20th to the 26th of June 2016 this year.
It will be launched as part of the Meltdown Festival at the Southbank Centre. You can:

  • Organise an event in Refugee Week. Here are examples and ideas of events you could hold
  • Attend an event (here is the calandar of events), promote it, tweet about it
  • Volunteer
  • Donate
  • Join the Simple Acts of Welcome Campaign and perform a personal/organisational act of welcome  such as creating and broadcasting a message of welcome, learning a few words in a new language or sharing a meal with someone.
  • If you are taking any action, then use the hashtag:  #refugeeswelcome

Counterpoint also runs a number of on-going projects including Platforma – the national Arts and Refugee network: The website includes lots of examples of existing and inspiring practice.

The Platforma network is run by regional contacts/lead organisations (who would be good links for interested What Next? Chapters ).

Considerations – EU Referendum Refugee Week (which, this year, has a theme of ‘Welcome’) falls in the same week as the European Referendum. It is already clear that the issue of migration is central to campaigning strategies, with a strong anti-migrant rhetoric. It will therefore be doubly important that the ‘Welcome’ message is clearly heard and expressed.

For advice and guidance on any Press and PR issues, or for help placing and managing stories, please do contact

2. The week of the 29th July to 9th of August 2016

The Good Chance Theatre team will be in the country this week as part of the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love, and we will all have had a chance to digest and respond to the outcome of the EU referendum.

Activating the What Next? Grid
If we add up our audiences, members, participants and staff, websites and resources the What Next? membership has an incredible reach. In the past we have each agreed in principle to use these channels of communication in a co-ordinated way to turn up the volume on specific issues (like the EBacc or about public funding of the arts). Over the last six months we have talked about doing this to change the national narrative about refugees and migrants.

We are suggesting that in the week of 29th July – 9th August we each engage in some of the following actions:

  • Celebrate any work you are doing in this area and make it visible. If your education, participation or community team are doing a project – celebrate it. Consider writing a paragraph about the work and sharing it with your mailing list or audiences. Consider sending it to the press.
  • Write a few lines on why you care about giving refugees and migrants a platform and why you want to share real stories. Send this out to all your staff and colleagues. Consider putting it up in your building or printing it on the back of tickets.
  • Publish a blog post or article by yourself or a refugee/migrant on your website. Consider giving it some space in your newsletter or in your brochure.
  • Shout about someone else – signpost to some great work that is happening locally or nationally with refugees and migrants.
  • Tweet about great refugee and migrant work with the hashtag #refugeeswelcome (we will set up a Thunderclap).
  • Hold a staff meeting where you discuss the current crisis and how you can respond to it – use this memo as a starting point if useful.
  • Brief your board on the organisation’s stance and activity.

3. 25th September – 6th of October 2016: Party Conference Season

We are suggesting we explore the possibility of creating two fringe events on this subject at the Conservative and Labour Party Conferences. If you want to lead on this strand of work, let us know. Actions we can take to create a platform for refugee stories at these three key moments:

  1. Research what is going on in your area
  2. Check Platforma and talk to colleagues to uncover local work and then support it – signpost to it in your newsletter, tweet about it, take a board member or a colleague to see a piece  of work.
  3. Programme / create work around the issues of migration and refugees.
  4. This can be done directly with refugees themselves, in collaboration, or by giving refugee artists a platform. There are important considerations and principles for working with individuals who have been through this kind of experience that need to be considered when making this kind of work. There is a great deal of excellent practice already existing in his area with organisations like Pan Intercultural Arts, Oval House, the Young Vic happy to share ideas and approaches. Partnership with experts is a key principle of effective arts practice with refugee and migrant communities.
  5. There are also guidance documents like this one: Inclusion Through Art PDF
  6. Host public debates/discussions/ conversations around the issues of migration with local groups working in this area.
  7. Create signage in your building showing that you are a welcoming and safe space
  8. Become a building of sanctuary

West Yorkshire Playhouse are a Theatre of Sanctuary and have worked with city of sanctuary to create a process for other Theatre’s to follow suit. If you’re not a theatre but another kind of arts or cultural organisation, these principles apply and it is definitely worth contacting the City of Sanctuary to talk about broadening the scope.

Theatre of Sanctuary process:
When a theatre expresses interest in becoming a theatre of sanctuary, a small group representing the theatre community should be appointed to gather evidence and consult service users. This group will work with the local City of Sanctuary group and trustees and produce a portfolio of evidence showing:

  • The actions taken to promote a culture of sanctuary within the theatre.
  • The plans to make this an on-going and sustainable endeavour.
  • The ways that the theatre plans to make its services more accessible for refugees and asylum seekers.
  • The commitment of the community of the theatre (including staff in all areas of theatre life, actors and producers, patrons and client representatives) to promoting sanctuary at all levels of theatre life.
  • The plans to take the concept of becoming a theatre of sanctuary to other theatres and partners within the world of the arts

Read more on the What Next? Refugee Crisis briefing ›