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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Migration Matters

In 2007 Sheffield became the UK’s first City of Sanctuary – a place that welcomes asylum-seekers and refugees, that offers a hand to people in need of safety. Since 2016, theatre and arts festival Migration Matters has become the UK's largest Refugee Week festival. For 2020, join Migration Matters for its first online festival – a global celebration of sanctuary live from Sheffield.

Migration Matters Festival Online takes place 15–20 June 2020 – see the full programme below.

Featuring a hip-hop showcase hosted by Sheffield poet laureate Otis Mensah, poet Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, a panel discussion with Magid Magid and guests, an immersive adaptation of Around the World in 80 days for children and families, and lots more.

The festival will build on its proud tradition of bringing the people of Sheffield together and for the first time extending that invitation to people from the world to join in.

All events are free – but donations are welcome. Proceeds will be split between the Sheffield-based charities South Yorkshire Refugee Law and Justice, and Lesbian Asylum Support Sheffield.

Pizza Shop Heroes (+ Q&A)

Powerful, celebratory, affirming; this is theatre where refugees take centre stage. This is a story of male and cultural identity, of family and fatherhood, a lyrical collage of memories, hopes, dreams and imagined realities.

Drift Project: Cargo Station

A film from Taiwan's Performosa Theatre, entangling family histories and stories about drifting within Asian islands. From economic immigration to war turmoil, time is used to look at the unsolved refugee crises, history and geography.

African Fusion Dance Workshop

A dance workshop with Angelina from Mulembas d'Africa, a dance class concept strongly rooted in her Angolan background. Pursuing dance as a passion and communication method, and focussing on the primal power of movement as ritual and performance.

Migration Matters opening party

Theatre Deli

A burst of energy, rhythm, movement and vibrant showcases, kicking off Refugee Week and the first online Migration Matters Festival. Wherever you are – join in with a joyful celebration of sanctuary with artists from Sheffield and around the world.

Opening Party: Songs of Migration & Lockdown

Textured, melodic music that takes you on a journey. With high energy kwela music inspired by the townships of Zimbabwe, strong melodies, drum rhythms that will summon you to dance, and soulful songs featuring the kora.

Opening Party: Sanctuary Songs

Songs of welcome and celebration from around the globe – reaching beyond borders and out of lockdown. With Stand and Be Counted Theatre in collaboration with Emily Ntshangase-Wood and Zoe Katsilerou.

Opening Party: 038

A search for identity, a yearning for home. This dance piece is by Kuo-Shin Chuang Pangcah Dance Theatre – who develop their movements from traditional aboriginal dance in Taiwan, seeking new possibilities for traditional dance in modern times.

Maternity Peer Support: Perceptions and Progress

A workshop discussing the maternity peer supporters programme for recent migrants in pregnancy and after birth – and its evolution to a community led Friendly Mothers group. Looking at how to reduce social isolation and increase access to healthcare.

Stone Flowers

Join in an interactive online music event with Stone Flowers, a music collective using music to support refugee and asylum seeker torture survivors. With musical activities and a performance of their latest composition written in English and Swahili.

Dr Iona Hine – Exile and Precarity in the 1930s: the Case of H.W. Cassirer

An insightful look at exiled German Jewish academic Heinrich Walter Cassirer, stripped of his position by Hitler's first anti-Jewish law. Dr Iona Hine reconstructs the precarious experiences of a migrant academic in 1930s Britain.

Stories from Quarantine

Imaginary characters in their own homes tell stories from quarantine. From Side by Side, a community drama group working with refugees, asylum seekers and other people local to Sheffield, using drama as a tool for community cohesion and integration.

Where We Began (+ Q&A)

Five performers from across the globe challenge existing notions of ‘home’ in this multilingual celebration of personal identity. Combining storytelling, movement and music – from Stand and Be Counted, the UK’s first Theatre Company of Sanctuary.

Escaping Quicksand: Stuckness and Self-Determination

A sociodrama workshop enabling participants to collaboratively explore their situations during and post coronavirus. Considering a world that escapes the stuckness of no or limited movement, where everyone can move towards a certain kind of freedom.

Indian Migrant Women's Contribution to the Suffragette Movement and World War II

A talk with Dr Stella Mascarenhas-Keyes recognising Indian migrant women's contribution to the UK. Focussing on Sophia Duleep's role in the Suffragette movement, and Noor Inayat Khan, a British secret agent who was captured and killed by the Nazis.

The Hum of Words Beneath our Feet: A Poetry Show from Change the Word

A bold global poetry show. Featuring Change the Word collectives from Sheffield and Coventry. With poets from DRC, Ethiopia, Guyana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Pakistan, Sudan and the UK, exploring what it means to be separate, connected, and to find hope.

Poetry in Conversation

A politically infused spoken-word performance with Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan. Her debut collection Postcolonial Banter came out in 2019. Her words are a disruption of comfort, a call to action, a redistribution of knowledge and an outpouring of dissent.

Racial Justice Network: Resist, Remember, Repair

Calls to ‘decolonise’ are now commonplace on UK university campuses and activist spaces. In this interview, Racial Justice Network and African Voices Platform discuss the term, its historical and socio-political context, and its radical impetus.

Our Story (+ Q&A)

Young people performing stories of migration between Sheffield and Brooklyn. Groups from the two places have been working together with Chol Theatre on a play based on their family stories. Here, they share a documentary and their experience so far.

Dr Jawad Shah: What can Practitioners Learn from the Narratives of Young Refugees?

Post-migration narratives of young refugees living in the UK. Dr Jawad Shah discusses his research, aimed at empowering people to embrace their interpretations of their journey and resettlement. Themes include language, racism and the role of family.

What We Are Made Of

Untold stories of British Asian refugees of the African diasporas. Based on journalist/playwright Wersha Bharadwa’s interviews with women largely marginalised in history – their accounts of love, loss, courage and the effects of the British Empire.

Live from the Incubator

A virtual exhibition of art that acts as a powerful, social and political tool – uniting people beyond borders through poetic vulnerability. Melding contemplative writing with trailblazing sounds – with Lucy DK, K.ZIA, Otis Mensah, and Lando Chill.

Is Covid-19 Racist?

Covid-19 disproportionately affects black and ethnic minority lives. Explore policy, healthcare and institutionalised discrimination with former mayor and MEP Magid Magid, doctor and campaigner Sonia Adesara, NHS worker and filmmaker Hassan Akkad.

Hip Hop Dance Workshop

Have fun, break a sweat, and learn something fresh in this hip hop dance workshop for people of all levels! With Si Rawlinson from Wayward Thread, who use hip hop, contemporary dance and physical theatre to explore compassion and identity.

Alim Kamara Storytelling Workshop

Join international storyteller and hip-hop artist Alim Kamara for a L.I.P.S. (Listen, Imagine, Participate, Share) Storytelling Workshop. Sharing engaging stories along with tips and techniques to get you ready for the stage. For children and adults.

Virtually Global!

Live world music and culture from Middle East and Africa hosted by cultural commentator Ayse Balkose. Featuring four artists who originally arrived in the UK as refugees, who'll be live from their own home music-spaces with songs and conversation.

Imaginary Communities Workshop

Play, imagine and co-create a new city in a live, interactive workshop with Chol Theatre. Imagine the people and creatures that inhabit this unique place, and establish the seeds of new stories in a shared new world.

Eastern Margins Roundtable

Exploring global perspectives on the East and Southeast Asian migrant creative experience. The roundtable draws from the Eastern Margins creative community – drawing out collective experiences and discussions from different disciplines/geographies.

Tales of Love & Loss

Picture a mother seeking asylum in the UK. What do you see? What you imagine may be far removed from reality. In this performance you will meet inspirational mothers from around the world who will share stories of Love and Loss.

'On The Line' Showcase

Celebrate the creative talents and contributions of young people seeking sanctuary. A showcase of spoken word, stories and songs created during lockdown by young people across the UK, curated by Compass Collective and streaming live for Refugee Day.

Barang! ft Kampire

To close a joyous week of celebration, Migration Matters joins festival favourites Barang! for Global Adventures in Bass. Featuring special guest Kampire, among East Africa’s most exciting DJs and a core member of Kampala’s Nyege Nyege collective.

Fabric of Our Lives

An immersive photography, textile and audio story exhibition. Based on collaborative workshops and the stories of local and refugee women living in UK textile and industrial towns, and a Refugee Women’s Safe House in Calais.

Integrate That

A podcast by researcher and comedian Abdulwahab Tahhan, giving a voice to refugees and allowing them to own the narrative of their stories. Taking the listener through some of the reality of trying and making a life in a foreign country.

Through My Window

What do you see through your window? Ignite Imaginations invites you to explore the experience of migration in the context of lockdown during a global pandemic. Watch the digital installation and join in with your own creative response.