The arts festival celebrating migration

By Christine Emelone
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 2:18 pm

As Ukrainian war refugees struggle to find sanctuary and Britain’s Rwanda deportation deal looms, there has never been a more pressing need to bring people together.

In Sheffield, Yorkshire, a small grassroots festival is aiming to do just that by using the power of performance to stand against an increasingly hostile UK immigration environment.

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The Migration Matters Festival

This takes place from June 17-25 to highlight the positive impact migration and refugees have nationally and locally, as well as bring the city’s population together.

Theatre, music, food and performance events featuring renowned artists are just some of the activities running in well-known venues, from The Leadmill live music venue to The Montgomery theatre.

Festival director Sam Holland said: “There isn’t anything more special than seeing community cohesion in action, to be meeting people of all the different places which have called Sheffield a sanctuary.”

National Refugee Week

Held during national Refugee Week, the festival celebrates different cultures and helps marginalised people feel represented. It has grown to attract international artists, is the biggest UK festival of its kind and some10,000 people take part in its events.

This year’s Migration Matters Festival will have a guest programmer. Taiwanese performance artist Howl Yuan has put together a strand of events, from talks to films and theatre, exploring the concept and notion of diaspora.

Nigerian musician Seun Kuti, son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, is to perform with Fela’s original band Egypt 80 at Foundry Sheffield. Seun said: “It is my pleasure to lend my art to the advancement of humanity anytime I am called upon.

The Phosphoros Theatre Company, a dynamic company of lived experience refugee performers, will also showcase their latest play, All The Beds I Have Slept In, and walking group Peaks of Colour will help people experience the Peak District in a safe space.

All events run on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis and booking through Sheffield company Ticketsfor Good will open soon. Visit migrationmattersfestival.co.uk.

The festival is funded by Arts Council England, the University of Sheffield and the Evan Cornish Foundation as well as the National Lottery Community Fund.

For more information, photographs, video or case studies, please contact the 2022 festivalmarketing and communications manager Ellen Beardmore on 07540279774 or email[email protected]