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Platforma 5 – Kent and Medway
14th November 2019

Reflections on the 5th biennial Platforma festival (October 2019)

With more than 40 events and a live audience of more than 10,000 people, Platforma 5 across Kent and Medway was our biggest yet. Everything was done in partnership, and we’d like to thank all those organisations and artists who took part. 

Read the Platforma5-evaluation-report (pdf)

Image (top): Custom Community Meal, Folkestone (Bartle Halpin photography)


Platforma is a network of organisations and artists across England that has been running since 2010. Managed by Counterpoints Arts, we work with partners of all scale – from community groups and individuals to large venues and producers.

Every two years we run the Platforma festival in a different part of the country to showcase work, develop networks and bring a people together to discuss practice. For Platforma 5 we worked with artists, organisations and audiences across Kent & Medway and also linked with others across our national and international network.

We already had a number of strong partnerships, starting with Kent-based freelance producers Julie Neville and Douglas Noble who have managed Platforma in the South East since 2011. With their help we convened three networking meetings in the 18 months leading up to the festival, to learn about work already happening and to discuss what new work people would most like to see. We also wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the issues people were facing either as artists from migrant / refugee background or working with people from those backgrounds. 

Gradually a programme took shape with a wide range of partners across the region. We also made connections to other artists and organisations from across our national network. 

Some of the work we supported and commissioned was focused on a specific community (eg hiphop workshops with young Roma men and women) but we were also keen to bring work to mainstream spaces so that artists could reach wide audiences. Our partnerships with Cohesion Plus, Turner Contemporary, Quarterhouse and Gulbenkian were particularly helpful for this.

Platforma’s work with organisations and artists in Kent & Medway will continue, with a focus over the next two years on helping to develop capacity, networks and support for artists – informed by the results of our post-festival evaluation.

We know that there is a demand for more opportunities for artists from refugee and migrant backgrounds, and for refugee and migrant communities. It has also been clear how much people and organisations have benefitted from new connections across sectors and across the region, and a number of new partnerships and collaborations are ongoing.

We will be exploring how we can help bring new funding for this work, both from with the region and from national / international sources. And there is an interest in connecting up work across the region for Refugee Week and Black History Month.

It will also be important for us to continue building connections between the larger arts organisations with regular funding and the smaller groups and individual artists. The process of developing Platforma 5 has revealed something of the ecology of the arts sector in different places across the region and it is clear that while arts at grassroots level will always persist, it has the potential to really flourish with more mainstream support.

The full programme for Platforma 5 is set out below. Look out for news of Platforma 6 coming soon.

Poster image: A Hostile Environment, 2019 – original artwork by Adam Chodzko, commissioned for Platforma 5 by Counterpoints Arts




Online: As part of Platforma 5, City of Sanctuary launched their free Sanctuary in Arts resource pack

September/October 2019: No Direction Home

Stand-up comedy workshops & performances in Gravesend & Sittingbourne  – Counterpoints Arts in partnership with Ideas Test, Woodville Theatre, Cohesion Plus. No Direction Home is produced by Counterpoints Arts & Camden People’s Theatre.

September/October: Hiphop and spoken word workshops with young people

We worked with Pie Factory Music and Music for Change on music workshops with young people. Led by artists Mohammed Yahya and Oliver Seager, the young people have been producing some fantastic tracks –  listen to a sample.


September-October: Worse Things Happen At Sea, Ramsgate, 10.00-22.00

This art installation by Mooch is a Morse code soundtrack within the Ramsgate lighthouse listing over a thousand names of vessels lost on the Goodwin Sands. Imagine how it feels to be lost in a storm at sea as the Morse distress call reminds you of the perils beyond the harbour walls, over many centuries, to the present day.

14 September-13 October: Home – The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, Canterbury

An exhibition of artwork created by textile artist Anna Ray and a group of mothers living in Ashford ­ long term residents and recently resettled Syrian women. Over the course of seven months, Anna worked with the group to explore the theme of ‘home’. The aim of the commission was to bring a new community together, to discover commonalities and celebrate differences. Through weekly workshops, the participants worked with drawing, painting, print, felt­making, weaving and stitch. As they made artwork together, the women shared stories of their home­lives, speaking of the joys of motherhood and the challenges they face. Since the project drew to a close last year the group have continued to make artwork together as friends, drawing on the skills and confidence gained from this unique project. Home was commissioned by People United, The Diocese of Canterbury and Ashford Borough Council, funded by Arts Council England.

3-5 October: Music After Detention: Dover Residency

Music in Detention (MiD), in collaboration with musician Oliver Seagar are running a 3 day residency in Dover, with musicians they worked with whilst incarcerated in the UK’s Immigration Detention System. Until 2015 there was an Immigration Removal Centre in Dover, sited in Dover’s Western Heights Nature Reserve. Some of MiD’s musicians were held there. Includes: 5 October Music After Detention Gig @ The Lighthouse in Deal 20:30 – 23:00 

3-6 October: Custom Folkestone presents: Something Held in the Mouth

A four day festival bringing together artists and creative practitioners to present a diverse programme of art,  events, workshops and talks about the poetics of food, the politics of its migrations and the ways in which our bodies hold these stories. The festival convenes dialogues around the way food crosses boundaries and creates connections across the world, as well as exploring the intersections between art, food and local markets to forge new alliances through geopolitical conversations. Events include, 6 October, Community Meal with menu designed by Lucky Moyo + music from Lucky & friends.

7 October: Platforma 5 Launch event at Kent County Council, Maidstone 17.00-18.30

A special event in partnership with Kent County Council for the official launch of Platforma 5.

9 October: No Direction Home at Woodville Theatre 19.o0-2o.15

Stand-up performance featuring local people who have attended the workshops, plus special guest headliners. From Counterpoints Arts in partnership with Cohesion Plus & Woodville Theatre.

11 October: Building Partnerships, Huguenot Museum, Rochester 13.00-16.00 – How can museums and heritage organisations engage sustainably with refugees and migrants?

A free seminar from Counterpoints Arts in partnership with the Huguenot Museum and The Migration Museum Project.

11 October: Swale Festival of Light in Sittingbourne, with Cohesion Plus & Ideas Test

Following workshops local schools to create lanterns around core values of respect, excellence, friendship and equality led by artists commissioned for Platforma 5, a parade as part of a colourful community festival.

15-30 October: Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Art Project, Sittingbourne Library

Young refugees and asylum seekers have created an art exhibition inspired by their journeys to Kent and hopes for the future.

16-27 October: Why Folkestone? by Aida Silvestri, Brewery Tap, Folkestone

A new exhibition for Platforma 5 by the internationally-exhibited photographer Aida Silvestri. Presented alongside her  previous work Even This Will Pass.

18-25 October: Lilacs In Bloom by Joy C Martindale, Jarman Building – University of Kent

A participatory artwork made in collaboration with survivors of modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

8 October – 8 November: Platforma 5 @ 101 Social Club, Margate

As part of their Autumn/Winter programme, 101 Social Club in Margate presents a series of installations, screenings and talks

21-25 October Platforma 5 takeover at Turner Contemporary & 101 Social, Margate

A week-long programme of artist-led engagement & talks linked to 2019 Turner Prize exhibition. Co-commissioned and co-curated by Counterpoints Arts and Turner Contemporary.

Programming included:
Rich Wiles, Ongoing Journeys – an intimate, collaborative photographic exhibition and accompanying interactive multi-media web platform. It explores the idea of ‘family’ through the story of Rami, Ruba and their children as they attempt to rebuild their lives in Yorkshire following their displacement from Syria.

Aida Silvestri, Why Margate? Workshop (Photography & Embroidery) – Why did you choose Margate as your home?

Anna Ray and People United, Home (Crafting Workshop) – inspired by work with Syrian families in Ashford.

Sawt of the Earth, Sawt of Margate (Field Sound Recording Workshop) – in collaboration with sound artist, Mark Gergis.

Adam Chodzko, A Hostile Environment 2019 – Internationally renowned Kent based artist, Adam Chodzko, presents his past and current work engaging with questions of displacement, belonging and citizenship.

Local Network: Creating an Archive – (Networking event, open to public) – Exploring the history of arts, refugee and migration projects in Kent. How might we work collectively to bring this archive to life? (View Kent archive presentstion – pdf)

Farhad Berahman, Memory, Slow Portraiture and the Afghan Camera Box – Workshop

Umama Hamido, On Akka’s Shore – Performance and Screening

Jillian Edelstein, Transitional Portraits, Photography and Displacement – Artist talk and photographic workshop

Henna Asikainen, ‘Omens’ Walk – from Turner Contemporary to 101 Social.

Headway East London, Submit to Love Studios – Gallery talks, sound installation and workshop

Juan del Gado: Drifting Narratives – Screening of Fleches Sans Corps

A Counterpoints Arts’ Learning Lab in partnership with Plymouth College of Art – The Art of Networking and the Platforma Festival

Full programme:

21-26 October: Platforma 5 at Gulbenkian, in partnership with Counterpoints Arts

21-22 October: Pop culture / Young People / Migration & Social Change – retreat, Gulbenkian Pop Culture and Social Change is a pioneering project from Counterpoints Arts exploring how the power of pop culture can be harnessed to shift the way we talk, think and feel about migration and displacement. (Invitation only)

21 October: Pop culture, arts & activism – Gulbenkian 18.00-19.00: A free session open to all, linked to our pop culture retreat. Followed by: 19.30pm Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. – film screening, Guklbenkian 
A 2018 biographical documentary film about English rapper, artist & activist M.I.A.. Directed by Steve Loveridge

22 October: Popjustice scratch!, Gulbenkian 17.00: 
A free performance, open to all, by participants in the pop culture retreat.

Please note: due to circumstances beyond our control, the performance on 23 October has been cancelled.

24 October: No Direction Home stand-up comedy – featuring Nish Kumar , Gulbenkian.
After a sell-out gig at the Southbank Centre in London, No Direction Home bring a hilarious line-up of comedians from refugee & migrant backgrounds to Canterbury for this one-off gig in partnership with University of Kent. Hosted by Tom Parry with special guest headliner Nish Kumar (The Mash Report). Featuring Abdulwahab Tahhan and Usman Khalid, PLUS Daria Roland, Victor Pang & Alf White. Q&A with Nish Kumar at 6pm.

25 October: The Last Tree, Gulbenkian 
A new feature film, written & directed by Shola Amoo. Presented as part of Black History Month by Kent University Union.

26 October: Platforma Family Day,  Gulbenkian, from 10.00
Artist and performer-led workshops, performances and fun for the whole family, around themes of home, identity and migration.

26 October: Rafiki Jazz – Up Close!, Gulbenkian, 20.00
Celebrating unity in diversity with their 4th CD release ‘Saraba Sufiyana’’ (Mystic Utopia) Rafiki Jazz music is ‘a love-letter to this intricate world in all its beauty and complexity’ and features at its heart the compelling vocal quartet of Sufi Sarah Yaseen, Hebrew-Hindi singer-songwriter Avital Raz, Egyptian master-musician Mina Salama and Senegalese griot Kadialy Kouyate. Featuring guest Gaelic vocalist Kaitlin Ross & post-show Q&A hosted by Emily Zaraa.

25 October: The Ship Swallower, Ramsgate, drop in anytime 19.00-21.00

An immersive installation, the latest of Mooch’s explorations of the notorious “ship swallowing” Goodwin Sands and site of countless deaths at sea.

26 October: They Came In Crowded Boats, Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate, 13.30

The Margate Film Festival presents a selection of short films that explore the motivations, challenges and perceptions of global migration and refugee stories.

26 October: Shiva Nova presents Romany Diamonds, Quarterhouse Folkestone, 19.30

Three generations of one traditional Gypsy Roma family playing acoustic magic with fire and soul; amazing audiences with back-to-front violin playing and soul-searching ballads followed by musical Gypsy mayhem. Plus: The World in a Tent Roma exhibition will be in the foyer all day hosting workshops in Roma music from 4pm-5pm and dance from 5pm-6pm for everyone to join in!

27 October: Platforma 5 : Four Artists, Quarterhouse, Folkestone, 11.00

Presentations from Henna Asikainen, Aida Silvestri, Rich Wiles, & Mooch – plus discussions and questions & the launch of the Migrants In Culture survey.

27 October: Re-imagining of The Landing of the Belgian Refugees, Folkestone Harbour, 13.00 

Everybody is invited to join in an historic recreation of Folkestone’s favourite painting The Landing of the Belgian Refugees by Fredo Franzoni. Plus Belgian Waterzooi (fish stew made with Belgian beer!) on the main menu at Custom Folkestone and a free vegan version for the participants.


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). Platforma is run by Counterpoints Arts in partnership with organisations across the country

Platforma 1 took place in London (2011), followed by Manchester (2013), Leicester (2015) & Newcastle and the North East (2017).