Over the course of a number of months in 2019, we worked collaboratively with Scottish-based artists and cultural practitioners with lived experience of seeking refugee protection, and whose work is helping shape the changing cultural landscape of Scotland. To share creative practices, identify ambitions and barriers, develop the potential for collaboration, exchange and peer support.

As part of this work, we held an Artists Symposium during Refugee Festival Scotland led from the perspective of these artists. Hosted by poet and performer, Tawona Sitholé, the forum provided a space for ten artists to share their practices and experiences of working locally and internationally, and to stimulate ongoing discussion around disruption and belonging within the arts sector in Scotland.

How do you navigate new and different cultural contexts when faced with disruption and upheaval?

How do experiences of migration define and shape your practice?

How do cultural environments and institutions create a sense of belonging?

Participants in the symposium included artists, curators, producers and cultural organisations who seek to foster new collaborations and nurture the development and visibility of artists working in this sector.

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‘Collaboration and co-operation of artists with similar lived-experiences is needed to better understand "our" commonalities and purpose of created work.’ Najma Abukar, Artist.

‘I will take away the continued importance of a dialogue about artistic practice over discussion of labels such as "marginalised" or even "refugee", ensure to continue conversations around mobility and its importance in international working and find ways of better working with diverse artists and ensure discussion around their impactful work.’ Thom Louis, British Council Scotland.

The symposium was held at and supported by the Centre for Contemporary Arts and funded by Creative Scotland.


* Image (1): Belonging, Paria Goodarzi, CCA, 2019

* Image (2): Home and Hospitality, Najma Abukar, CCA, 2019