Five places you’ll find me during Refugee Week Scotland

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Photo: Iman Tajik

With Refugee Week Scotland coming up again I’ve taken a look at what’s in store for what should be an amazing festival for everyone

Blog by Jack Tannock, Media Volunteer

‘World Refugee Day Concert’ – Friday 20 June

The Scottish Refugee Council and British Red Cross present their annual concert at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow. Last year’s concert was hugely enjoyable with a great atmosphere a chance to sample some brilliant and eclectic music. This year’s line-up is even more eclectic (which can only be a good thing in my book) with music originating all over the world and right here in our own backyard. Young Fathers (which is the best hip-hop name EVER!!!) are a hip-hop trio from Edinburgh but originating in Nigeria and Liberia. They have received rave reviews from The Guardian and NME, amongst others, for their psychedelic, experimental hip-hop and are definitely one to watch out for. Skipinnish are one of the most interesting bands in the Scottish Ceilidh music scene capable of performing traditional Celtic music at its most hauntingly beautiful or its most rousing and passionate. Finally Balkanarama are a Balkan folk extravaganza performing a ‘storming’ set of both traditional and modern gypsy and klezmer music with a strong jazz current through it making their music very danceable. 

‘A View From Here’ – Tuesday 3 to Sunday 22 June

Glasgow’s skyline is changing with so many of her high rise flats coming down. This exhibition is a new multi-disciplinary arts and heritage project by Scottish Refugee Council, which documents the heritage of the high flats in two iconic districts of Glasgow and the shared and disparate experiences of asylum seekers, refugees and local Scots who live there. While the view from the top could be breath-taking, they could also be lonely and bleak places to reside and those who have dwelled there will have mixed and complex emotions about them. It will be interesting and no doubt inspiring to visit this exhibition that will showcase those memories in a thought-provoking way. Taking place at Kelvingrove Art Gallery AND Stereo in Renfield Lane, the exhibition is split in two.  ‘A View From Here’ should prove to be a fitting title for the exhibit as it promises to give us a view into a unique part of Glasgow history that will soon be no more.

'44 Stories' – Monday 2 to Thursday 5 July

It wouldn’t be Refugee Week Scotland without a diverse collection of challenging and stimulating plays and theatre productions. Last year I attended ‘My Friend Selma’ (which returns this year) about Bosnian refugees in the 90s and was mightily impressed and other productions this year look equally great. The Scottish Youth Theatre’s Lord of the Flies-esque ‘The Island’ looks particularly intriguing. But what most catches my eye is ’44 Stories’. It presents stories from the 44 Commonwealth Countries where homosexuality is still illegal. Each story is presented in a unique, poetic way, which should serve as a stark yet beautiful reminder that we so often take for granted the right to be with the human being we love.

‘Ubuntu’ + ‘Open Arms’ – Saturday 14 June AND the ‘Bring a Friend Feast’ – Friday 20 June

Food for thought is all well and good but what about some actual food for the stomach. What would Refugee Week be without some top quality scran and this year my quest for new, interesting (and cheap) meals could take me to Pollok Country Park for Ubuntu. An African word meaning human kindness, Ubuntu will include storytelling and discussion along with a chance to sample some traditional African recipes. Open Arms running concurrently with Ubuntu offers music, dancing and yet more food traditional to the Nigerian Igbo people.

The Bring A Friend Feast takes place a week later in Gorbals Parish Church and is an actual sit-down feast prepared and served by the volunteers with charity ‘Bridging the Gap’. Children are welcome to what should be a friendly atmosphere with plenty good food on offer. And as the name suggests… Bring a friend.

‘Philanthrobeats vs Re:Verb’ – Saturday 21 June

Saturday night is a good night for the dancing and instead of my normal routine of going to The Cathouse, I reckon I will check out this interesting club night at Stereo in Glasgow. Hosted by two night life promoters with a reputation for turning ordinary nights out into interactive happenings and with a background in so-called ‘conscious clubbing’, this should be a night out to remember and have a good time for a good cause.

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