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Festival 31 goes online for 2020 with special art commissions

A festival celebrating refugee art and culture has gone online for 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The launch of Festival 31, an annual event organised by Liverpool-based art charity SOLA Arts, coincides with National Refugee Week.

Culture Liverpool has joined forces with SOLA Arts and the Everyman and Playhouse to co-ordinate this year’s festival and as part of that, nine commissioned artists are having their work exhibited on the Culture Liverpool website.

Artists, arts organisations and supporters have been asked to responded to the theme Creative Connections and what the number 31 can be or represent.

Artists were able to bid for micro-grants funded by Culture Liverpool, Our Liverpool - the city council’s refugee and asylum seeker service, and the estate of the late American artist Fanchon Fröhlich who studied and lived in the city.

The nine micro-commission works are:

Rania Alkhllo - Hope

A video of 31 different people expressing their hope for the future in their own way and language.

Kali Chandrasegaram - Move’in A Charm

A piece bringing together 31 hand artists exploring 31 magical charms complemented by an original soundtrack.

Becky Downing - 31 Letters In My Alphabet

A piece representing some of the voices, languages and accents that make up the rich range of dialects in Liverpool.

Nina Edge – The Fall

A short film evoking the feeling of being deeply rooted in this land, whilst at the same time completely uprooted and wilted by the UK’s prevailing cultural norms.

Adrian Mejia - VIDA In The Time Of Corona

A mini documentary detailing the artist’s personal experience as a gay asylum seeker living with virus symptoms.

Dorota Modlinger - Mandala of Hope and Dreams – New Moon Ritual

A visual interpretation of the dreams, signs and symbols shared in a live online performance.

Bisakha Sarker - Splash

A Zoom film presenting a number of 31-syllable poems.

Karen Wynne - dis/mis

A video piece, using a mobile phone camera whilst making a short journey through the artist’s community on bike and on foot.

Nesrin Yousef - The Will Of The Universe - Unexpected And Out Of Our Control

A poem and song reflecting where the artist and her cousin are currently up to in life, the artist in Liverpool and her cousin starting anew in Germany as a musician and singer.

SOLA Arts managing director Adele Spiers said: “It’s been such a great opportunity this year to develop Festival 31 in new, digital way.

"Working closer with Culture Liverpool and Everyman & Playhouse Theatres has meant reaching a much wider audience and enabling even more meaningful creative conversations around the refugee experience.

“This is what the festival is about - exploring, developing understanding and empathy, challenging yet meaningful conversations, connections and all through creativity.”

You can enjoy the Festival 31 programme including the nine artists’ commissions HERE until July 15.

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