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37 I LGBT 67 40 I Music 68 47 I Theatre 90 SO I Visual Art 95 66


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The Kite Runner, one of the films: being shown as part of the Refugee Week Scotland Film Festival

Kirstin Innes talks to some of the people behind the excellent programme at this

year's Scotland-wide Refugee Week

iven the recent increase in profile of the BNP Gacross Scotland. the timing and focus of this

year‘s country-wide Refugee Week are particularly prescient. This year. the multi—artform festival which aims to raise awareness of the issues facing and surrounding asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland has adopted the theme ‘Home‘. reflecting the Scottish Government-run Year of Homecoming project.

‘For us, the Year of Homecoming is not just about welcoming back the Scottish diaspora.‘ says John Wilkes. the Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council. ‘lt‘s about ensuring Scotland is welcoming for everyone who comes here. We want to remind Scots of the journeys refugees have taken to get here: fleeing their previous homes in fear of persecution and danger, and trying to build a new life and safe home here in Scotland.’

To tie in with Homecoming, the team behind Refugee Week have asked several asylum seekers and refugees living in Scotland to share their stories and ideas about what ‘home' means with interested parties from Scottish culture and media. Matta Matabaro, the 33-year-old head of Africa Umoja Scotland. an organisation aimed at reducing poverty and increasing community integration amongst refugees and asylum seekers from Africa. invited writer and artist John Byrne into his house for a televised chat.

“John didn’t even know that the Scottish Refugee Council existed until they contacted him to take part

in this discussion.‘ he says. ‘I think Scottish people ' need to understand more widely that many people are forced to flee their countries and seek refuge in . places where they can get protection. and not to be : surprised that these people are coming to their ;


The Refugee Week website offers the opportunity to 5

see videos of these conversations, and invites Scots to i

put faces and stories to the bogey-man phrase f ‘asylum seeker‘. The videos are companions to a : Scotland-wide programme of theatre, art, live music, food and sporting events and dicussions designed to : make people consider the positive impact refugees i

can have on a society. For instance, a screening of the AFl‘s ‘Funniest Film of the 20th Century’, Some Like It Hot may not seem to have much relevance, until you consider that it was made by a refugee. German e’migré Billy Wilder. Other highlights of the

programme include the big names of the Red Cross

Refugee Week Comedy Night, the first ever

RefugeeWeek Scotland Film Festival, and Exodus, a '

club night co-organised by Umoja Scotland featuring the best in live hip hop. ragga and Afro-beats.

‘We want people to enjoy Refugee Week,’ says i

Wilkes. ‘but we urge Scots to continue to think about

how crucial a safe home is and to welcome those

who have sought sanctuary in our nation.’

Scotland-wide, Mon 15-Sun 21 Jun. See www.refugeeweek.org.uklscotland for video content and full listings.

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* Glaagow Mela Glasgow’s biggest multicultural party cheers in ten years of music, dance. food and stalls celebrating the traditions of the south-east Asian sub-continent. Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, Sun 27 Jun.

* Gala Day & Pageant The piece de résistance of the Leith Festival. The paraade starts at Lochend Park at 12.30pm, the opening ceremony with ‘mock’ Lord Provost of Leith. MSP Margo McDonald is at 1.30pm, a host of dancing and feasting and testing after that. Leith Links, Edinburgh, Sat 13 Jun. * Frlenda of the River Kelvin Gala Meanwhile. over westwards, the annual watery gala has recruited Alasdair Roberts, Swing Guitars, Katie Stewart, The Last Ones Left and Nick Milligan to help celebrate and raise funds for the conservation charity Friends of the River Kelvin. Ha 'penny Bridge House, Glasgow, Sat 13 Jun.

* Festival Sunday It Scotland’a Mardl Graa Moving from Byres Road to Kelvingrove Park this year, the biggest and best of Scotland's outdoor fiestas explodes all over the West End in a noisy parade of samba bands. costume groups and musicians. Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, Sun 14 Jun.

* Old Town Featlval Celebrating the stories of Edinburgh’s most historic quarter, across several venues. Scottish Storytelling Centre and around, Thu 18 Jun-Wed 1 Jul.

1 1—25 Jun 2009 THE LIST 33