Seminar: ‘Distant Voices’

Culture East Midlands & ‘Making the Connections’ present


Migrant workers, representation & the arts


Wednesday 17 October 2007
Trinity Arts Centre, Grantham

11am – 4pm

These days, everyone seems to be talking about migrant workers. But while the views of politicians, academics, researchers and campaigners fill the airwaves, the voices of those most concerned are rarely heard. What are their needs and motives? How do they see their situations and this country’s response?

Art and culture are important spaces in which migrant workers can be heard and seen – directly and indirectly, and with all the complexity of artistic expression.

This regional seminar will present some recent experiences of this work, from within and beyond the East Midlands, in the context of EMDA’s research into the contribution of migrant workers to the regional economy. It has a particular bearing on rural issues, where migrant workers are now an important part of the workforce. It will be of interest to policy makers, planners, artists, creative entrepreneurs and anyone working in cultural services, economic development or rural affairs.

Speakers include EMDA, Rural Media Company, New Perspectives Theatre Company, National Institute for Continuing Adult Education (NIACE) and others; there will be exhibitions by Heather Connelly and Roaming Pictures and a short theatre performance.

Culture East Midlands and Making the Connections: Arts, Migration and Diaspora Regional Network are pleased to invite you to take part in a seminar looking at how the arts and culture can represent the views and experiences of migrant workers within the broader context of relationships between culture, identity and migration.

A recent TUC report (2007) concluded that the important point for British debates is that immigration does not have a negative impact: overall levels of employment and wages are slightly higher as a result of immigration, and migrant workers pay more in taxes than the value of the public services they receive’.

In these debates, however, the voices of migrants tend to be mediated by others; journalists, advocacy groups, networks and academic researchers. Moreover, these representations tend to focus upon the ‘economics’ of migration and debates around the costs and benefits to the host nation/communities.

Yet culture is an essential element of people’s identity with a complex influence on many aspects of migration, from the choice of destination to reception, integration and hybridization. At a more basic level, new residents bring new skills, interests and needs that cultural providers in the public and private sectors need to take account of. Migrant workers and their families are service users and consumers and important steps have been taken in recent years to meet their needs by the county’s cultural and education organisations.

Speakers from a variety of sectors (arts, policy, and research) will focus on the important role that the arts and cultural sector has in ensuring migrant workers have a platform for representing themselves. Case studies, drama, film and narratives will be presented by a range of organisations that research and work with migrant workers, particularly in rural settings. The input from the East Midlands Development Agency will place case studies and discussion in the context the latest regional evidence.

As well as hearing from our speakers, there will be an opportunity for all delegates to engage in debate and discussion, and look at how the issues raised can be taken forward at policy and practice levels as well as in the remaining ‘Making The Connections’ Research Seminars and the end of programme conference.

The event is FREE, but places are limited and must be booked in advance. For more information or to reserve a place, please contact Rebecca Lee:

Email conferences AT ruralculture-em DOT org
0115 962 3477

[There is a small budget to cover the expenses of unwaged delegates, to be allocated according to individual circumstances; please mention when booking if you need this assistance]

Dr Phil Hubbard
Professor of Urban Social Geography
Dept of Geography
Loughborough University
E-mail: P.J.Hubbard AT lboro DOT ac DOT uk

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Filed under arts, cultural policy, workshop

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