We’re thrilled to be supporting the creative and professional development of twelve emerging artists, activists and journalists from refugee and other migrant backgrounds.

They will each receive funding and practical support as part of our Cross Borders programme. In places where it can be dangerous to voice ideas, artists, activists and creative thinkers are often at an especially high risk of censorship, imprisonment and persecution.

Cross Borders gives people who have experienced oppression, harassment and barriers to creative expression, opportunities to develop, produce and share their art, activism and cultural practice.


The image at the top of this page features a section of Family No 3, a work of art by Shatha Altowai (pictured right).


Ten successful applicants from seven nationalities have been welcomed into the Cross Borders mentoring programme. The group includes journalists, visual artists, writers, a musician and composer, an architect, and a poet and filmmaker.

Each of them will be matched with a mentor who will share knowledge, expertise and support them to overcome barriers and set creative goals. They will also receive a grant of £1,000 to support their professional and creative development.


“Being selected for the Cross Borders Mentoring Programme means everything to me. It’s the possibility of receiving support, knowledge and experience from a mentor.

“It means expanding my resources, creating new connections and meeting other artists and creators for future collaborations. It is nourishing my practice and having an impulse to grow as an artist and continue creating.”   

– Camila


“I am a self-taught pianist and composer, who plays music by ear. Music is a survival mechanism that has helped me to cope with the hardships. I always find it more easy to express my emotions and feelings through music. 

“This programme is a great opportunity to build more connections here in my new home Scotland, learn from a well-established mentor in the industry, and further develop my creative expression.

– Saber

Commissioned Projects

We have commissioned three new artistic projects, which will go into development over the course of the next year. This is the first time each of the artists involved have had their work commissioned.  Each project will receive £8,000 in funding as well as planning and production support from the Cross Borders team.

No More Shadows

A new EP by Iranian vocalist and musician, Aref Ghorbani.

This commission will enable Aref to continue working and collaborating with women musicians (who are banned from performing in Iran) and support him to record professionally.


Sista! Beyond The Sky Isn’t The Limit

Zimbabwean vocalist and songwriter, Eyve Madyise, will also develop and produce a new EP. This commission will support Eyve with song writing development, and professional recording.

“As a queer black woman, society puts us to the bottom of the totem pole. It’s high time that’s defied! We can do anything we put our minds to. Sista! Beyond The Sky Isn’t The Limit will focus on the deep seated issues of being a black and queer refugee woman. Of not being ‘typical’ of a black woman. Of surviving that and striving in society, regardless of all the expectations and disadvantages.

“It’s an idea I developed to articulate my roots, my sexuality, my dark skin, my potential as a woman-being and my journey from migrant to asylum seeker to refugee.  I would like to make some quality music that expresses my uniqueness as an artist. I hope to touch people’s hearts and bring a new genre of music that can get people dancing.”  – Eyve

One Soul

Yemeni poet and filmmaker, Sawsan Al-Areeqe, will develop and publish a new collection of poetry in Arabic and English.

“Certainly, for me, this grant is moral support before it is financial support. It will have a great impact to restore my confidence in creativity, despite all the circumstances that push us against what we desire. 

“Writing was and still is my life project and I always give it my priority. I relied on it to create a parallel life, which made me overcome all problems, challenges and barriers that stood, or will stand, in my way. Writing made me share my experience outside Yemen and learn about different cultures. Because of it, I’m here in Glasgow.”   – Sawsan

Cross Borders

Cross Borders is a programme of arts and cultural activism projects led by Scottish Refugee Council. It includes events, workshops, mentoring, commissions and collaborations for, by and with artists, activists and cultural practitioners from refugee and other migrant backgrounds. The programme helps creatives to make connections, collaborate and exchange knowledge and ideas.

Cross Borders in generously supported by Glasgow City Council and Comic Relief Change Makers.
Rachel Lamb
Author: Rachel Lamb