Sense of Belonging Knowledge Transfer Project


Every year thousands of new arrivals come to the UK. Many of these encounter significant barriers to integration, with their access to housing, employment, medical and social services often hampered, and some ‘host’ communities indifferent – or at worst hostile – to their presence. Language barriers often prevent their stories being told and cultural and arts policy often fails to recognise the particular role that access to spaces of art production and consumption might have for such Diasporic and transnational groups. Asylum seekers, in particular, are often denied the opportunity to express themselves with the spaces of mainstream culture; their stories are marginalised and suppressed. Letting their stories be told is part of the process by which such groups develop a sense of belonging; art-based practice can often be fundamental in this process.

This programme of knowledge transfer activity draws upon the research conducted by Maggie O'Neill with new arrivals in the East Midlands region, and arts activities conducted by four arts organisations (Long Journey Home, City Arts, Charnwood Arts and Soft Touch). It also represents a logical outgrowth of the regional network – ‘Making the Connections: arts, migration and Diaspora’ - convened by the principal investigator (PI) Maggie O'Neill, in collaboration with Prof Phil Hubbard, the co-investigator (CI). The four community arts organisations participate in this regional network, which has been generously funded by the AHRC Diaspora, Migration and Identities programme with the support and co-operation of the Arts Council East Midlands.

The proposed Knowledge Transfer activity seeks to: realise the potential of our separate and combined research thus far; enhance existing relationships between the investigators and partner organisations; and build upon the work of the network by cementing the collaboration between each partner organisation, the principal investigator and co-investigator supported by a regional steering group. Moreover, the Knowledge Transfer activity will involve realising the role of art in processes of social change as well as cultural policy objectives through the development of the three strands of knowledge transfer activity directly relevant to the aims and aspirations of all those involved, as well as with the wider remit of the East Midlands Participatory Arts Forum, the Cultural Observatory, Arts Council East Midland, Culture East Midland and East Midlands Universities. As such, this Knowledge Transfer will build upon strong foundations of research and practice in the East Midlands, producing work that will make a real difference to both ‘new arrivals’ and ‘host communities’.

The Charnwood Arts strand of this collaborative project is focusing on work with two Theatre practitioners and one Artist to engage Young Refugees in the potential to establish a "Sense of Belonging" through use of the arts.





Mon 20th October, 2008

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Past Events

Tue 25th November, 2008

Diversity Arts Pool 2008

Diversity Arts Pool 2008


A special showcase event for programmers to meet artists who are new arrivals to the UK, migrants and who deliver work within these communities and beyond. Read More »

Wed 29th October, 2008

State of Matter Theatre Trip

State of Matter Theatre Trip


The project has an opportunity to take Young Refugees to the theatre! 2FaCed DaNcE company are performing STATE OF MATTER at the town hall. Please contact Amy ( if you or a.. Read More »


Sat 10th January, 2009 @ 2:46pm by Ms Joanna J Daly

I am quite confused as I have talked to Charnwood Arts very recently and they cannot help except to refer me to Nottingham - there are no 'creative ethnic' art groups in this area around Loughborough. Are white/black african people part of this programme, does it depend on which country you arrive from or are born in, or political viewpoint? I am isolated in this area and I'm disappointed at Charnwood Arts website being different to the real deal, I have to go elsewhere! What happened to the website of - it sounded ideal. Can't I also be a part of the art-scene in Charnwood

  • why was this Beyond Borders website not mentioned to me either?
    I feel shut out and I hope I have better luck with the New Art Exchange! Creative Leicestershire isn't the friendliest either - I'm not part of the elite scene! I would appreciate an explanation so that I'll at least know where I fit in.

Mon 16th March, 2009 @ 6:29pm by Kevin Ryan

Hi Joanna

I seem to remember a long talk with you from which we suggested a number of things that might fit with your needs - in particular Jemma came up with a range of ideas as a practicing visual artist - you do have some very specific requirements and I am sorry if we were unable to help you directly with these. We thought that the New Art Exchange may be more able to support the work and the artist you wanted to bring from Africa but were not suggesting anything exclusive to them - in fact we mentioned our openness to further discussion on this.

There are smaller arts and cultural groups in this area but they are less about selling individual craft work and it is true there is not so much of a market immediately locally for the kind of things you produce. This is why we suggested you make wider links.

As for being part of the arts scene in Charnwood - of course you can - it is more diverse and wider than any one organisation - we happen to be more project based and a community arts project more than supporting individual artists - hence our long conversation about a range of other options. As open as we might be we cannot DO everything for everyone.

Beyond Borders was in the very early stages of development at the pojnt we met you and is still growing from a specific project - it's good that you have connected with it. We are far from elitist as an organisation, in fact quite the opposite - hence our difficulty in finding a good way of supporting you in selling your work - it is not really our role - hence the time we spent with you being as helpful as we could be to pint you to people who might. I am sorry Creative Leicestershire was unfriendly, it hasn't been my experience of them but I have not had a great deal to do with them in terms of promoting work.

I understand your isolation as an individual artist - indeed it is felt by a large number of people - we have been making efforts to secure a space within Loughborough to offer more of a meeting place and exhibition area for artists and performers as well as our work with young people for some time but with little luck.

We keep trying.

best wishes Kevin

Director - Charnwood Arts

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