Refugee Week is an opportunity to celebrate multi-culturalism and the contributions of refugee communities and individuals to our society and there was no better illustration of this that Sheba Arts' 'Diversity and Friendship' festival in Stockport.
The event was an uplifting and triumphant celebration that united the local Hazel Grove community and a wonderful variety of highly talented acts bringing their skills, their cultural traditions, heritage and love of the arts and expression to St Peter's Parish.
Although our selection of performances is a drop in the ocean of the North West's diverse community, together we demonstrated just how privileged we are to have the world on our streets.
We were joined by many amazing talents who helped to turn the evening into the most lively and inspiring occasion by sharing their cultural traditions and talents with the local community.
We enjoyed amazing performances including Irish dancers from St Peter's Parish, no doubt bringing pride and joy to the local community, many of whom revealed they were of Irish descent. We also enjoyed Guatemalan dancing from Sheba Art's own Sally Perez Hilton, performing her own Ixcanul Art project in her traditional Mayan influenced style. The room was on fire for the amazing Malayalee Association of Stockport MAS representing the state of Kerala with their Bollywood and Classical dance act.
Kurdish artist Amang brought us a wonderful paint-to-music spectacle along with Irish music from Lizzy, Connor, Dave and Abbey.
We even enjoyed traditional Morris dancing from Brendan and Dave who led the heavily audience-inclusive Country Dance with all the attendees dancing rounds on stage accompanied by Lizzy on the violin (who had performed earlier in the evening with Dave). We also were honoured to hear Lucy's wonderful singing and poetry from Jolivia.
The evening finally reached it's crescendo with the Culture Bridge organisation. These Kurdish artists had opened the festival with their musical act, and now they rightly would finish the event with the energy and spirit that only a Kurdish dabke can summon, bringing the whole audience to the stage for the final dance.
Meanwhile, the children were challenged to create their own flag designs for nations of their own invention or new designs for existing places and also had the opportunity to enjoy a drumming circle.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the event and helped to make this such a successful and special celebration of diversity from the acts, to the workshop facilitators, to the catering and the wonderful people of St Peter's Parish. We were also profoundly honoured to be supported by Stockport Council.
Sheba Arts and Kudac Arts Centre are working together to bring a refugee-led festival to Manchester for Refugee Week 2019.
The event will take place on 21st June and we are inviting artists to approach us with any interest you may have in helping to bring this festival to life.
If you are an artist (whether a performer, film-maker, visual artist, musician) and you would like to be part of this special event, send us an email us at firstname.lastname@example.org