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Date: 24–25 Jun 2023


Venue: Hastings Museum & Art Gallery

Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 June 2023

Hastings Museum & Art Gallery





MAIN STAGE (times may vary)

12:00   DJ Remi Vibesman

12:20   Welcome from Polly Gifford

Minutes silence in memory of those who died in the tragedy in the Mediterranean

Formal opening of the festival by the Mayor of Hastings Cllr Margie O’Callaghan

Poem from Mariia Lytvynenko, ‘Greetings We Are From Ukraine’ by Olga Gala

12:30   Fat Tuesday Second Line Youth Band

13:00   Lynda Murray Jazz Quartet

13:30   Clara

14:00   Gwyneth Herbert and Ark Alexandra Academy

14:30   DJ Remi Vibesman

15:00   Bashir al Gamar

15:30   Band from the Barracks

16:00   Lifted Up Community Choir

16:30   Imran Malik

17:00   YYPPFDs

17:30   The Shady Pines

18:00   DJ Remi Vibesman

18:30   Las Cabras Cubanos

19:00   Close



12:20   Storytelling 1 – Helen Tozer

13:00   Magic Show – Laurie Temple

14:00   Drumming 1 – Julian Humphries

15:00   Poetry Reading – Loraine Mponela

15:30   Storytelling 2 – Helen Tozer

16:00   Drumming 2 – Julian Humphries


TALKS PROGRAMME (Durbar Hall in Hastings Museum)


Conversations From Calais – Mathilda Della Torre

Founded in 2018, Conversations From Calais is a global art movement that captures conversations between volunteers and refugees in poster form. Pasted on walls around the world, these posters bear witness to those who are often ignored. Hastings Community of Sanctuary first displayed some of the free-to-use posters in shops and cafes in 2020. Project originator Mathilda Della Torre will talk about the new book she has edited as an archive of the project, launched during Refugee Week.


Communities Not Camps 

We believe that people seeking asylum should be housed in communities, not camps. This panel discussion will explore the government’s policy of opening immigration accommodation centres on military bases, former prisons, barges and hotels, and the impact on those housed in such places, with examples from the UK and internationally. Programmed in partnership with The Refugee Buddy Project (TRBP).


Rossana Leal, Founder & CEO, TRBP

Mo Karimzada, a buddy for TRBP with lived experience

Paul Hook, Director, Asylum Matters

Andrew Leak, Senior Protection Associate at UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency

Facilitated by Dr Rebecca Sinker, Refugee Week Project Manager, TRBP

4.30 – 5.30pm

Pockets of Joy

For people stuck in the asylum system, many in immigration detention centres with no end date, creativity can be a lifeline and a moment to feel human again. Hear about the power of these pockets of joy from Kwaku, a participant with music charity Hear Me Out who work with people in immigration detention centres, contingency accommodation and asylum hotels, and Loraine Mponela, a poet from Malawi living in England. Her debut collection, I Was Not Born a Sad Poet, gives a voice to asylum seekers whom we usually don’t hear about.

Facilitated by Jane Grimshaw, Co-Chair, Hastings Community of Sanctuary



Drop in anytime between 1-4pm

Compassion Bunting – Anne-Marie Watson and Fatima Esayli

Ukrainian Craft – Oksana Tideman

Poems I Found in the Bin – Rhiannon Armstrong

Weaving Workshop – Lyndsay Tomlinson & Mary Dawson

Festival Football Fun Factory – 1-4pm, On the field behind the main Stage, with professional coaches supported by Sport Welcome



Dove Café

Liban Coast

Mama Putts

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Sloe Drinks Mobile Bar




Amnesty International

Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain

Extinction Rebellion

Freedom from Torture


Hastings & Rother Rainbow Alliance

Hastings Community of Sanctuary

Hastings Rental Health

Hastings Supports Refugees

Hastings Trades Council

Hastings Voluntary Action

Karma Bank

Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Resettlement Employability Programme

St Michael’s Hospice

Stand up to Racism

Women’s Voice

Community, Creativity and Compassion come together at Sanctuary Festival 2023 

Sanctuary Festival sends a simple message of welcome to all, with some of Hastings’ best musicians and artists once again showing their support for the act of seeking sanctuary.  Organised by local charity Hastings Community of Sanctuary (HCoS), and hosted by Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, the festival celebrates the power of community, of creativity and of hope.  The event comes at the end of Refugee Week, a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary, with a theme this year of Compassion.

On Saturday 24th, 7-10pm, it’s the Sanctuary Comedy Special in partnership with Freedom From Torture East Sussex and Kamikaze Komedy.  Laughter is a powerful thing and there will be laughs a plenty with three fantastic acts – Jen Ives, Josephine Lacey and Jason Patterson – with Tim B’vard of Hastings’ legendary Bavard Bar as MC.  There will be an auction of special promises to raise funds for Freedom From Torture and Hastings Community of Sanctuary.  You can bid for 1-2-1 singing lessons with Jazz legend Liane Carroll, a creative writing session with the creator of ‘Smack the Pony’ Doon Mackichan and an encounter with horses courtesy of Equine Affinity. Tickets are £15, available from Eventbrite.

Sunday 25th is the main Sanctuary Festival, now in its seventh year, kicking off at midday and free to all.  In the grounds of Hastings Museum you will find live music, creative workshops, storytellers, drumming, community stalls, fun for kids, food and friends.  The music line-up includes Sudanese poet, songwriter and composer Bashir al Gamar, who found sanctuary in England in 1993, after being imprisoned for writing a poem. HCoS are very excited to be working with Hear Me Out, who run music workshops with people in immigration detention centres, contingency accommodation and asylum hotels. Band from the Barracks are a group of musicians currently living in temporary accommodation at Napier Barracks in Folkestone, Kent who have been making music together in weekly workshops with Hear Me Out.

Award winning musician and composer Gwyneth Herbert has been collaborating with students at Ark Alexandra Academy to create a song about what sanctuary means to them, and some of the students will be performing the song with Gwyneth at the festival.  We will also be displaying an installation made by people seeking sanctuary for Hastings Library.  Both of these projects are part of the institutions’ applying for a Sanctuary Award which shows their commitment to embedding support for sanctuary seekers in their organisations.

From Hastings we have Las Cabras Cubanos, a new jazz trio from saxophonist Lynda Murray, drumming sensations the YYPPFDs, The Shady Pines and the Lifted Up Community Choir based in Bexhill.  The festival loves to support young artists and this year we are proud to showcase singer/songwriter Clara, The Fat Tuesday Second Line Youth Band and Imran, a young man from Afghanistan who discovered his passion and talent for music during lockdown.

There are lots of creative things to do throughout the day.  Artists Anne-Marie Watson and Fatima Esayli are inviting you to make festival bunting, and Rhiannon Armstrong will be creating poems from words found in the bin!

Inside the museum there will be talks and discussions, responding to the Refugee Week theme of Compassion. Communities Not Camps, programmed in collaboration with The Refugee Buddy Project, will explore the impacts and ethics of government plans to house people seeking asylum in the UK in segregated accommodation centre.  Pockets of Joy will focus on the role of arts and creativity for people in immigration detention and navigating the asylum system.

Delicious food will be available and we’re delighted to welcome back the Ben & Jerry’s team with their ice cream truck and free ice cream!  The Dove Café will be setting up at the festival for the day, run by The Refugee Buddy Project and offering a warm welcome to all.

With so much turmoil around the world at this time, Sanctuary Festival reminds us that community and creativity really do make a difference at a local level.  Festival organiser, and Co-Chair of Hastings Community of Sanctuary, Polly Gifford says,

“The public narrative around refugees and people seeking asylum continues to be dominated by negativity and scapegoating, and so it is more important than ever to present a different story, that fosters understanding and compassion, which we are proud to do. People in Hastings have always shown amazing compassion for refugees and people seeking asylum and Sanctuary Festival exists because of that support.  It’s a great family day out that also sends a strong message of solidarity – we hope you will join us.”