SANCTUARY FESTIVAL 2023
Saturday 24 June – Comedy Special (7-10pm)
Sunday 25 June – Sanctuary Festival (12-7pm)
Hastings Museum & Art Gallery
A huge THANK YOU to everyone who made this year’s festival such a great event. The Comedy Special was sold out and raised over £1000 for Hastings Community of Sanctuary and Freedom From Torture. We welcomed over 1500 people to the festival on the Sunday in glorious sunshine. The event supported 70 artists, including 15 with lived experience of the UK asylum system, 64 community participants, and 33 volunteers. 18 local groups and organisations had stalls at the event including The Refugee Buddy Project, Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, Women’s Voice and Stand Up to Racism. The festival raised an amazing £2500 for Hastings Supports Refugees.
In the words of artist Fatima Esayli, “The Sanctuary Festival is the happy place for me where everyone gets to have fun and digging new types of music, new foods, and new ideas. It brings everyone from different cultures and places, and this year I really enjoyed making bunting with people, it was so much fun, and that’s what compassion means! We are lucky to have this festival in Hastings every year, because there is a completely different atmosphere at this festival.”
See you next year!
SUNDAY 25 JUNE PROGRAMME
MAIN STAGE (times may vary)
12:00 DJ Remi Vibesman
12:20 Welcome from Polly Gifford
A minute’s silence in memory of those who died in the tragedy in the Mediterranean
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
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
17:30 The Shady Pines
18:00 DJ Remi Vibesman
18:30 Las Cabras Cubanos
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
ARTS & ACTIVITIES
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
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
Sloe Drinks Mobile Bar
Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain
Freedom from Torture
Hastings & Rother Rainbow Alliance
Hastings Community of Sanctuary
Hastings Rental Health
Hastings Supports Refugees
Hastings Trades Council
Hastings Voluntary Action
Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Resettlement Employability Programme
St Michael’s Hospice
Stand up to Racism
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, alongside artists and performers from around the globe who have made the UK their home. 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 Malik, who moved to the UK in 2022 and seized the opportunity to pursue his passion for music.
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! There will be storytelling from Helen Tozer, drumming workshops with Julian and Laurie Temple’s popular magic show!
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. We’re also delighted to be joined by Matlide Della Tore, the originator of the Conversations from Calais project documenting conversations between volunteers and refugees met in Calais, who will be talking about the new publication coming out during Refugee Week.
Delicious food will be available from Liban Coast and Mama Putts, 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.”
Sanctuary Festival is our annual event held in June at the end of Refugee Week. It is a celebration of community and solidarity with refugees and anyone seeking sanctuary in our town.
The festival started in 2017 hosted at Ashburnham Place, and in 2021, following the pandemic, found a new home at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery. We’re hugely grateful to both of them for making it possible to grow the event, which welcomed over 1500 people in 2022.
In 2022, a short film was made by Mike Page from Megatrend Media. Watch it here.
Photos below by Alexander Brattell