Festival brings positive message on migration

A celebration of diversity takes place in Sheffield as the city hosts its fourth Migration Matters festival.

By Julia Armstrong
Wednesday, 12 June, 2019, 11:25
Musician Noella Wiyaala, performing at the Migration Matters Festival, Sheffield

The festival is the UK’s largest city-wide Refugee Week event. The line-up is the biggest so far, showcasing local, national and international acts that will come together to celebrate the positive impact of migration in the city and the UK.

Festival director Sam Holland said: “Driven by this year’s Refugee Week theme, You, Me and Those Who Came Before, the festival sheds light on how Sheffield and the UK has been forged by the generations of people whose cultures have shaped and made it a richer place.

“While the country has been plunged into uncertainty, a word we’ve all grown weary of, it’s essential we don't lose sight of what makes this island great: its people.”

This year’s eight-day festival features a mix of theatre, music, film, dance, spoken word, academic talks, and food. Key topics covered include such as LGBTQI+ identity, mental health and activism.

Theatre shows taking place include Diary of an Expat (Cellar Theatre, June 15-16). Cecilia Gragnani, who moved to Britain from Italy 10 years ago, is sharing her personal experience and testimonials of others.

Cecilia said: “While interviewing many expats, I understood that, even among those who had settled in a community and felt part of it, the common feeling was a sense of loneliness.

“This is not a critique of life in the UK, it’s an exploration of life in the UK from the perspective of a European who arrived welcomed, ended up being barely tolerated and might have no other option but to leave.”

In family show Beam Me Upperthorpe! (Zest Centre, Upperthorpe, June 18-19), join the Sheffield Space Cadets to investigate a mystery. Build satellites, track spaceships and have a close encounter with an alien race in this interactive adventure.

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Refugeee and asylum seeker actors appear in Pizza Shop Heroes (Theatre Deli, June 17).

Four young men working your average shift in your average pizza shop take us on a journey across time and continents to show how extraordinary they are.

From leaving their homelands of Eritrea, Albania and Afghanistan to seek asylum as children, they explore how they got here, where they’re going and what they’ve learnt along the way.

The opening party tomorrow at Theatre Deli will bring together music and dance acts from Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

Legendary poet and spoken word artist Benjamin Zephaniah is performing at the Leadmill (June 21), along with The Revolutionary Minds and British Iraqi rapper and activist Lowkey.

Writer and editor of the award-winning The Good Immigrant, Nikesh Shukla, will join former city lord mayor and bew MEP Magid Magid in conversation about their experiences (Crucible Theatre, June 18).

Noella Wiyaala, known as The Young Lioness of Africa, will performing at the festival closing party (Theatre Deli, June 22). Wiyaala’s music is a fusion of West African folk songs and Afro-pop, informed by traditional storytelling and spectacular dance.

Migration Matters runs in venues across Sheffield from June 14 to 22.

Details at www.migrationmattersfestival.co.uk. All events are ‘pay what you decide’. Reserve tickets through events.ticketsforgood.co.uk.