Bard of Barnsley to visit Tees Valley!

Here is exciting news about the You Are Here Refugee Arts Project and its plans for Refugee Week which begins June 14th 2004.

Over the last four years more than 3,000 people from fifty countries have come to the Tees Valley seeking asylum. Many of them settle and rebuild their lives here.

The ‘You Are Here’ project, managed by tees valley arts and funded by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Trust Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, uses the talents and creativity of the refugee people themselves to speak directly to the people of the Tees Valley – through writing, music, dance, film, textiles, visual arts and so on.

In the Autumn of 2004 tees valley arts will produce a CD Rom for adults and young people, and a short animated film for children, looking at some of the difficulties that refugee people face, and celebrating some of the talents and skills they have to offer. This children’s film has a short introduction from Middlesbrough footballer Joseph Desire Job, and will be showcased at the University of Teesside Social Futures Conference, as a prelude to their keynote speaker – John McCarthy.

Also, as part of ‘You Are Here’, Tees Valley Arts has commissioned work from two artists – local visual artist Helen Shannon, and poet/performer/broadcaster Ian McMillan – the legendary Bard of Barnsley and ‘beat poet’ with Humberside Constabulary, he was recently one of the six nominees for the Chair of Poetry at Oxford.

Helen has created five poster designs which will be displayed on the backs of ten Arriva buses travelling throughout the Tees Valley during June. The images explore a sense of loss of comfort and safety, and of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, through the use of abandoned toys in hostile landscapes. The colours of the images have been digitally altered so that the red and the blue are enhanced – the colours of blood and coldness.

Ian McMillan will be our guest writer in the Tees Valley during the week beginning 14th June – national Refugee Week. He will be meeting people, conducting workshops, writing and performing – he is particularly interested in meeting refugees and people seeking asylum who have an interest in poetry, performance or music, and he will be encouraging people to talk about their experiences and their homelands.

On Wednesday 16th June Ian will be involved in two events at the Arc, Stockton. In the afternoon, 1 – 3.30pm, there will be a celebration of poetry, performance, music and dance linked with or created through ‘You Are Here’, which will also include a drumming workshop. The event is free, and we hope for a relaxed and sociable atmosphere where people from different cultures can meet each other, be entertained and enjoy themselves.

At 7.30 pm in the evening of Wednesday June 16th there will be the Refugee Week Extravaganza which Ian will compere. Also performing will be Afro Gospel, Jabulani, Navrang Arts, DJ Tee Liburd, Henwen and Roots Melody. Tickets (£5/ £3.50 concessions) are available from Arc box office – 01642 525199. Should be a great night!

TVA is a participatory arts organisation, based in Middlesbrough and working across the Tees Valley, helping people change and improve their lives by taking part in the arts. TVA is a small organisation which makes a big impact in imaginative and unexpected ways.