'In 2016, more than 250,000 children sought asylum in the European Union.
Worldwide, nearly 1 in 200 children is a refugee.
For artists who make work for young audiences, how do we tackle the subject of migration? What stories do we tell? Where and how do we tell these stories? How do we ensure we don’t simply preach to the converted?
I’ve recently come back from an Artists’ Lab in Dublin, hosted by The Ark, where questions like these were buzzing through the brains of all who took part. The Lab was part of PUSH, a 2-year project co-funded by the EU’s Creative Europe Programme. I was one of 15 dance and theatre artists from Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway and Belgium.
Over nine days we met professionals working closely with young refugees and asylum seekers. We worked with The Ark’s insightful Children’s Council. We shared ideas, experiences, asked questions and made work together.
For me, it was an inspiring and provocative experience. I’m developing a project for Solar Bear, the company I run, all about migration, inspired by a graphic novel by Shaun Tan. It’s called ‘The Arrival’. The Lab did exactly what PUSH aims to do: push your thinking. About the work we make and why we’re making it.
The group of artists taking part highlighted to me the very point of diversity in the arts (and in life). It disrupts our familiar, traditional patterns of doing things. It forces change, new ways of looking at the world. It’s not comfortable or easy sometimes. But at its heart there’s always a creative exchange going on, a dialogue and a tension between points of view, experiences, that sparks something that wasn’t there before. My brain is still buzzing.'
Jonathan Lloyd, Creative Director of Solar Bear