Migrants in Culture is a network of migrants organising to create the conditions of safety, agency and solidarity in the culture sector for migrants, people of colour and all others impacted by the UK’s immigration regime.
We are guided by a vision of culture without borders.1
1. juridical, racial, gendered, ableist, class, physical, economic, and everyday borders.
Migrants make culture. Migrants make a culture sector. We are artists, curators, cleaners, directors, educators, front-of-house staff, producers, security guards, students, technicians and many more. We work in economically and legally precarious workplaces, where we are invisible (as there is little understanding or care of how immigration regimes impact our lives) or hypervisible (co-opted as tokens of internationalism and diversity) in a monoculture. We live, work and pay taxes in the UK, but have no, or limited, political representation and access to healthcare and social services.
We recognise that the forces of systemic racism and the legacies and continuation of empire, colonisation and extractive capitalism have created a culture sector characterised by borders, oppression, discrimination, and exploitation for migrant and racialised populations. We reject the instrumentalisation of culture for social power, social cleansing and nationalist agendas. We reject the false binary of the good / bad migrant.
Migrants in Culture imagines and organises a culture sector without borders:
Safety: We oppose the UK government’s Hostile Environment Policy and its violent impacts on health, education, housing, employment and the creation of culture. We platform and develop educational campaigns around the experiences and needs of migrant culture workers, so that ignorance can not be an excuse for complicity with the Hostile Environment. We advocate for a sector that is accountable to, and takes proactive actions for the safety of migrant culture workers, including access to legal advice and mental health support.
Since Autumn 2018, we have published National Findings and Testimonials on the impact of the Hostile Environment Policy on the Culture Sector, and in September 2020 we published an advoacy pack developed with a coalition of migrant culture workers titled A Culture Sector Recovery for Migrants.
Agency: We envision futures in which we are protagonists. We work with migrant peers and allies to listen and learn collectively. As culture workers, we seek to use our creative mediums, skills and resources to contribute to community-centered and abolitionist futures. We organise to create a collaborative rather than competitive sector, where the infrastructures and artworks we make are active tools in dismantling oppression, and where all forms of migrant lives and labour are valued. At the start of 2020, we organised an Activation Day for migrant culture workers and allies to build skills and envision a more equitable culture sector.
Solidarity: We seek to connect migrant culture workers to a national migrant movement that opposes the Hostile Environment and the wider UK immigration regime – which are a manifestation of systemic racism and the legacies and continuation of empire, colonisation and extractive capitalism. We seek to organise for migrant justice that is inseparable from racial, class, disability and queer justice.
Anti-racism and anti-colonialism
Connected struggles, connected futures
Leadership of the most impacted
Culture as a creative force for liberation
The ways we work
Using art skills to organise
Consensus decision making
Listening and learning
Welcoming and caring for one another