Art can have a dual function. First, it represents an excellent way of involving migrants in meaningful activities whilst building the basis of your campaign. Second, art is one of the most impactful vectors for rousing your audience’s emotions, which helps to find common ground between migrants and the host society.

If the power of the arts and culture to build bridges between newcomers and locals is undeniable, it is also important to recognise, since the beginning, its limitations, and to assume a critical and open approach. The organisation RISE, in an article explicitly titled 10 things you need to consider if you are an artist – not of the refugee and asylum seeker community – looking to work with our community, warns artist to think twice, before trying to involve only as a “resource to feed into their next artistic project”: a critical approach, considering power (im)balances and positionalities, must be guaranteed.

The CLARINET project strongly believes in the power that art has to reach out to people. For this reason, 8 artistic residencies will take place in the 8 territories involved in the project in order to develop innovative, ad hoc artistic materials which can be used in local public communication campaigns of positive storytelling on migration. This activity will be led by the Biennale des Jeunes Créateurs de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (BJCEM, Biennal of young creators and artists from Europe and the Mediterranean), an international network composed of 52 members from 18 countries, bringing together cultural institutions as well as independent organisations.

Use a bottom-up approach

The use of art, to be effective and empowering, must concretely involve the community of reference, through a bottom-up, participatory process.

The publication Inclusion Through Art by RSN (Refugee Support Network) provides practical guidelines for organisations that seek to implement participatory art initiatives, including tools and possible methodologies to adopt.

Use an analytic and critical approach

It is important to critically analyse and assess the role of art engaging with migration, avoiding an over-enthusiastic and naïf approach.

The publication Everybody wants a refugee on stage, by IETM (International network for contemporary performing arts), while acknowledging the special role of artists for migrants’ inclusion, also looks critically on the important questions to ask and steps to be implemented, which can be summarised as:

  • Think about the “Why”: Why this project, and why you as an organisation to coordinate it? Is this project really needed by the community?
  • Think about the “Who”: Refugees/those in displacement must be part of the decision-making process.
  • Think about the “What”: focus on the diversity of topics, not only with the most “obvious” ones, such as trauma, or the migration journey.
  • Measure your impact: evaluation is a critical element of a successful art project.
  • Think about Sustainability and Long termism from the start: different strategies for this include building diversified partnerships and engage in networks.

Collaborate with professionals

It is important, with art projects more than ever, not to improvise, but to involve experts, who can develop structured processes and can help you to find truly innovative ways of conveying your message to the world. 

Communication of Local AuthoRities for INtegration in European Towns


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This project was funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.
The content of this document represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility.
The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.