Keeley Mudd from local organisation Create without Borders talks to us about their work last year, the importance of art and their exciting plans for 2021.
What is Create Without Borders and how does it help to create a Borough of Sanctuary in the local area?
At Create Without Borders we promote and celebrate the work of creatives with migrant and refugee backgrounds by collaboratively creating digital and physical spaces that showcase work, facilitate partnership working, and engage the Lewisham community. We use the term creative in the broadest sense to include visual artists, musicians, film makers, comedians, chefs and more.
Participation in the arts is no different to employment in that opportunities often arise from your connections rather than your experience or abilities; connections that refugees, building a new life in a new country, are less likely to have. The local community and online events we run provide a space for refugee creatives to build networks and form new collaborations, as well as creating paid opportunities.
In an age of increasingly hostile rhetoric around refugees and migrants, it’s also critical to be countering this narrative. We think an effective way to do this is through platforms and spaces that recognise the skills, expertise and experiences of refugees and the way cultural exchange develops and enriches community life.
Create Without Borders grew out of connections and learning through the pandemic. Through the first lockdown our founders organised online fundraisers for local and grassroot groups, bringing together musicians, artists and others. We met and heard from many refugee and migrant artists, musicians and other creatives who were looking for spaces to share their work and find people they could collaborate with. This is what inspired Create Without Borders.
Since setting up in August we have been able to work with some incredible artists and partnered with organisations such as Refugee Café, Love Without Borders, London Must Act, ShelbyXStudios, Haven Coffee, Flotsam Sessions, and others.
Create Without Borders in 2021
We are really excited that the Mayor of London has recently made a pledge to our project ‘Imagining Sanctuary in Lewisham’. We are now busy planning a week of art exhibitions, music performances, cooking demos, storytelling, workshops and community conversation over Refugee Week. This will help lay foundations for our network of artists to participate in future events such as the Borough of Culture. This is especially beneficial given the impact of the pandemic’s restrictions on artists, limiting opportunities to perform live or to work alongside others.
In difficult times finding shared space for celebration and joy is all the more important. We are excited to continue to grow projects that explore what it means to be a Borough of Sanctuary – centering refugee and migrant voices and developing a community of care that allows for connections between different groups.