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North East
27 October 2017  -  28 October 2017

4th Platforma Festival: Conference

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Join us in Newcastle for the Platforma Conference as part of the 4th biennial Platforma Festival to share practice, ideas and inspiration with artists and organisations from across the North East, the UK and internationally. 

The first day of the Conference will focus on new work commissioned for the Festival, providing hands-on engagement with some of the most important issues relating to the arts by, with and about refugees and migrants. The second day will focus on inspirations, provocations and work towards a new Platforma Manifesto.

The programme is feee and open to all, regardless of previous experience. To reserve a free place for some or all of the programme please email

Some bursaries are available for individual artists and small organisations. 

27 October: Platforma Conference Day 1 (Newcastle, various venues)

10.00-11.30: Conference launch at St John the Baptist Church, Grainger Street, Newcastle NE1 5JG

Speakers will include:

– Abid Hussein, (Director, Diversity for Arts Council England)
– Almir Koldzic and Áine O’Brien, co-directors of Counterpoints Arts

There will also be an introduction from producer Laura Purseglove a new installation at the Church, Ritournelle (once more, from the top) by artist Katia Kameli (pictured below), a French-Algerian artist commissioned as part of the Platforma Festival by Art and Christianity Enquiry, the leading UK organisation in the field of visual art and religion.


Almir Koldzic and Áine O’Brien, co-directors of Counterpoints Arts, will introduce the Conference and outline the main themes attendees will be invited to explore across the two days.


12.00-1400: Art In The Park: Forage and The Big M, Nuns Moor Park, Newcastle NE4
From the church we will walk about 30 minutes together to the park (alternative transport provided if required) where, in partnership with ISIS Arts, we present a new work by Henna Asikainen, Forage.

Produced with participants from local communities in Newcastle, and with the co-operation of the National Trust, the work will be made on the day from a collection of foraged materials. More details here:


ISIS Arts will also be presenting new work curated by Juan Delgado in their unique inflatable gallery, The Big M. Plus there will be free food, music, and discussion around aspects of both projects.

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15.00-17.00: Parallel seminars 

1) Counterpoints Arts’ Learning Lab: The Art of Self-Organising, New Modes of Networking and Cross-Border Solidarities – Carliol House, Market Street Newcastle NE1 6NE

Self-organising has a long history in the arts and cultural sector influencing diverse methods of production and participation. Borne out of creativity, politics and necessity it has to date produced a rich range of practices and ways of working. Join us – artists, curators, producers, programmers, activists, educators, critics – in this open forum to explore a timely re-thinking of how self-organisation today moves beyond the somewhat limiting labels of ‘non-profit’, ‘artist-run’ or ‘alternative’. With visiting contributors from across the UK, Europe and the US we will share initiatives exploring new models of governance, new platforms for cultural participation and active citizenship plus innovative and strategic cross-border networking. Our discussion will be framed by a keynote from Adnan Abdul Ghani, initiator of the autonomous Support Group Network (SGN) at Restad Gard Asylum Centre, Sweden. This Learning Lab forum is a collaboration between Counterpoints Arts, University of York Migration Network and the Cultural Significance of Place Research Group, University of Newcastle.

2)  Displacement and art in the age of hostility – Hatton Gallery, Newcastle

The filmmaker Marusya Bociurkiw and the performance practitioner Elena Marchevska will discuss their most recent projects and will engage in a discussion with the audience about the ethical implications of creating work about displacement and migration. The session will start with a screening of an excerpt of the movie: This Is Gay Propaganda: LGBT Rights and the War in Ukraine, the most recent documentary by Marusya Bociurkiw . This will be followed by a short presentation of The Study Room guide on The Displaced and Privilege, project that Elena Marchevska developed this year in collaboration with Live Art Development Agency and Counterpoints Arts. Full details

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3) Broken Chords Can Sing A Little – Isabel Lima; ISIS Arts, 5 Charlotte Square, Newcastle

This seminar will critically reflect upon the process of developing Gresham’s Wooden Horse, a participatory project developed with disparate communities living in Gresham, Middlesbrough. Inspired by the myth of the Trojan Horse, this project uses its symbolism to stimulate collective action among Gresham’s populations. Many of Gresham’s grids of terraced houses have been demolished or boarded up in recent years. Its population is diverse, including British workers and asylum seekers. Social deprivation discourages local people from finding mutual commonalities and reports suggest that different communities rarely interact with one another. Gresham’s Wooden Horse sets up an informal forum for cultural exchange. The project is a vehicle for residents of Gresham, old and new, to establish a sense of ownership of their neighbourhood, enabling a collective process of reimagining the area’s identity. This session will focus on the ethics of engagement; collaboration; stakeholders and sustainability of artist-led participatory artworks within communities.

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18.00-20.00: Stranger Tales,Reza Iranian restaurant, 87 Westgate Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4AE

Capacity limited – please email to book

Stranger Tales is an intimate storytelling experience that will take you across the globe, traversing time and distance, travelling from Siberia to a UK city street, bringing you stories that have never been told before. Created by theatre maker Stella Barnes with two professional performers and the input of 20 members of the public who shared their stories, Stranger Tales is part of Stella’s ongoing work in the field of arts and migration. She has a special interest in the notion of hospitality and how it relates to arts practice and attitudes to migration. The work is a frame for exploring complex and sometimes conflicting perceptions and offer a ‘performance’ of hospitality. The word hospitality has its roots in the word ‘host’ which has two origins: the Latin for stranger or enemy, and conversely guest. Stranger Tales is presented as a work in progress in collaboration with The Southbank Centre, Counterpoints Arts and idle women. This event is not suitable for small children. 

Image (below) by Candice Purwin



28 October: Platforma Conference Day 2 – 10.00-16.00

Newcastle City Library, 33 New Bridge St W, NE1 8AX
The second day of the Conference will be a chance to hear about a range of different projects and artistic interventions from around the country and internationally. There will also be a chance to reflect on work seen on Day 1 and elsewhere in the Festival. We will then be inviting attendees to consider a range of questions about their own approaches and what they have seen elsewhere, working towards ideas for a new Platforma Manifesto on the arts by, with and about refugees and migrants.

Inspirations will come from artists including:

Manif HalbouniFarhad BerhamanAlketa Xhafa Mripa

Workshop sessions will be led by Stella Barnes and David Nguyen.

All welcome, regardless of previous experience in this work and whether you are able to attend on the 27th or not. Please email to confirm attendance. 

In the afternoon we will present a performance of the brilliant Borderline by PSYCHEdelight, the acclaimed “comedy about a tragedy” made collaboratively by a company of young refugees and European actors and a sell-out hit at venues across the country.


Plus there will be a performance by dancer & choreographer Tim Rubidge with Afshin Emam. Tim has worked with refugees and asylum seekers who have informed the short performance piece make/shift – it reflects the tension between the personal experience of displacement, movement, and migration; and the experience of the mounting stasis between footfall and bureaucracy.



8pm: Borderline at Gosforth Civic Theatre

Another chance to see the acclaimed show from PSYCHEdelight developed with and performed by refugees who lived in the Calais camp on their way to the UK. “High Comedy amidst the Poignancy. Powerful. Important.” Huffington Post. Booking:


The biennial Platforma Festival brings together artists, organisations, funders and others for discussions, workshops and the chance to share practice and showcase new work. The first three took place in London (2011), Manchester (2013) and Leicester (2015).

Platforma arts and refugee network supports and develops arts by, about and with refugees and migrants from marginalised communities. It brings together groups and artists / performers of any background or political status (e.g. refugees and non-refugees), whose work examines the varied experiences of refugees and migrants both before and after they arrived and settled in their host country. Platforma is managed by Counterpoints Arts in partnership with organisations across the country. 


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Counterpoints Arts is a leading national organisation in the field of arts, migration and social change. Our mission is to support and produce the arts by and about migrants and refugees, seeking to ensure that their contributions are recognized and welcomed within British arts, history and culture.

About Freedom City 2017

The Platforma Festival is being presented as part of Freedom City 2017. On 13th November 1967, Newcastle University awarded Dr Martin Luther King an honorary degree, the only UK university to do so in his lifetime.