LONDON: An arts festival showcasing the works of Middle Eastern and Muslim refugees is touring the southwest of England.
The Platforma festival, which opened on Saturday, aims to tackle perceptions of refugees in the UK. It is managed by Counterpoints Arts, a London-based organization that seeks to promote the artistic contributions of migrants and refugees to British society.
This year marks the seventh edition of the event and will feature a variety of visual arts, drama, music and comedy inspired by people from refugee backgrounds. It runs until Nov. 5.
The festival hit the ground running in Bristol on Sunday with a session on Arabic calligraphy and poetry. Among the events planned for the coming weeks are performances by comedians Alaa Shehada, Hanna Shammas and Diana Sweity who will dive deep into the intricacies of Palestinian identities with engaging stand-up comedy routines in Bristol on Oct. 10.
On Oct. 21, Devon will witness “Crown,” a performance blending classical Persian dance, contemporary dance and Sufi movements.
Back in Bristol, the comedic duo Mohand and Peter will deliver a unique theatrical experience, melding humor with evocative narratives rooted in Sudan.
From Oct. 28-29, “Dear Laila,” an art installation by Basel Zaraa, will be on show at Bristol’s Palestine Museum. The work brings to life the Palestinian narrative of displacement, as told through the experiences of one family.
Another highlight of the festival will be “Sudafest: Hope and Healing” on Oct. 22, which celebrates Sudanese art and culture.
Its founder, Hiba Elhindi, told the BBC: “I am from Sudan and I came to the UK in 2014. I have lived in Bristol pretty much that whole time. I have been engaging in many activities in the Sudanese community.
“I would say around 90 percent of the Sudanese population in Bristol are refugees.”
Elhindi believes art has the power to break linguistic and cultural barriers.
“We have been working really hard in using art and culture as a platform for Sudanese current issues,” she said.
“I don’t think there is enough media coverage of the war in Sudan in the UK, and people may not be aware of the issue. We have been using Sudafest as a platform to raise awareness about what is happening there.”
The Platforma festival was founded by Almir Koldzic, who moved to the UK from Yugoslavia in 1995 to escape the war in his homeland, the BBC reported.
The event, which is held every two years in a different part of England, aims to highlight the healing and unifying abilities of art and cultural expression.