Covid-19 forces Journeys Festival International to go online to explore the refugee experience

  • Journeys Festival International presents varied programme of work to explore refugee experience
  • Measures have been taken to become fully digital for 2020 exhibition due to coronavirus restrictions
  • Festival runs from this week until 18 October 

Manchester’s Journeys Festival International has gone completely digital this year to make sure that its celebration of talented refugee artists is not scuppered by covid-19.

Produced by ArtReach, the annual arts festival “celebrates the talents of artists from sanctuary-seeking backgrounds and shares the experiences of refugee and asylum-seeking communities through artistic and creative encounters”. 

It is also the UK’s first Festival of Sanctuary, accredited by City of Sanctuary, and brings perspectives from and about the refugee crisis.

Dan Williamson, senior producer of Journeys Festival in Manchester, says the festival is “not just about giving an opportunity for those from a refugee background to talk about their feelings of displacement, but it’s also about celebrating their art and culture”.

Journeys Festival pairs people up with UK artists to produce art work together, as well as work with British based artists who want to explore the issues raised by those in the refugee community.

This year, due to the impact of COVID-19, it is completely online. It will be ‘online to enjoy from your own home, nearest café or on the bus’.  

Issues around digital accessibility have been raised throughout lockdown, due to the fact that many people from sanctuary seeking backgrounds do not have access to the internet and very limited data.

To ensure people could still engage, organisers sent out sim cards with pre-loaded data to use when artists are involved in workshops.

Dan Williamson brings light on a few programme highlights of this year, including ‘Grafitti Art and Protest in Iran’, ‘Freedom of Movement?’ and ‘This is Now Not for Me’.

Use the hashtag #JourneysFestival on social media to get involved.