Refugee Week Festival 2018 launches in Birmingham

City-wide festival set to mark worldwide commemoration.

A multi-venue celebration of global music and culture featuring a diverse programme of artists takes over Birmingham from today until Saturday to mark Refugee Week.

The festival, curated and delivered by city-based arts charity Celebrating Sanctuary, will see a series of talks, special performances and workshops with musicians from Angola, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Sudan, Ukraine, UK and Zimbabwe given at Ikon Gallery, Ikon Slow Boat, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Symphony Hall foyer, Ort Cafe, and Midlands Arts Centre

Music and culture fans are invited to a festival introduction and meet-the-artists session with Millicent Chapanda and Ben Pathy on board the Ikon Slow Boat – a converted canal barge moored at Brewmaster Bridge in Brindleyplace – on Wednesday 20th June (4pm-6pm), before a free intimate set from Senegalese kora player and singer Kadialy Kouyate at Yorks Cafe in Ikon Gallery (8pm-8.40pm).

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery hosts the free Refugee Week 20th Birthday Celebration on Thursday 21st June, featuring performances by Writers Without Borders, Sisters in Mbira with Zimbabwean musicians Millicent Chapanda and Anna Mudeka, plus African-Latin collective Afro Mio led by Angolan recording artist Ben Pathy, along with stalls and activities. (12pm-4pm).

Guinea-Bissauan virtuoso guitarist Tony Dudu and his project Gumbe Jazz give a much anticipated free show as part of the popular Jazzlines Free Gigs programme in the foyer of Symphony Hall on Friday 22nd June (5pm-7pm).

Later the same evening, Congolese singer-songwriter Didier Kissala will perform a special acoustic set at Ort Cafe (8.20pm-10.30pm), with a second stirring performance from Tony Dudu and Gumbe Jazz (9.20pm-10.30pm). Tickets for the evening, priced £5, can be purchased on the door.

Celebrating Sanctuary’s Refugee Week Festival 2018 programme culminates in a six hour extravaganza across spaces at Midlands Art Centre featuring live performances from The Refugee Choir, a collaboration between the European Youth Music and the St Chad’s Sanctuary Refugee Choirs, led by Lizzy Cragg (Birmingham Opera Company).

Also performing will be feted Birmingham singer-songwriter Layla Tutt, African-Latin collective Afro Mio, Ukrainian singer-songwriter Iryna Muha, Midlands roots band Culture Dub Quartet, Sudanese singer and Ood player Hassan Salih Nour, Zimbabwean Mbira players and singers Millicent Chapanda, Chartwell Dutiro and Anna Mudeka, Guinea-Bissauan singer-guitarist Nifeco Costa with his band Babock Jazz, and a joyous finale with music, dancers and drummers from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s The Redeemed, led by Didier Kissala (12pm-6.15pm).

There will be a number of workshops throughout the final day, including kite-making, arts and craft workshop, women’s craft collective, textile working, face painting, drumming, salsa dance and art and conversation (1.20pm-4.30pm, booking required on the day).