2024 Small Grants and Arts Open awardees announced

Refugee Festival Scotland has awarded grants to 70 different community groups and organisations this year, and will be also supporting 3 arts project. The funding will help to cover some of the costs of putting on arts, culture and community events within this year’s Festival.

These events will all respond to the festival theme of RISE and will take place across Scotland -from Cumbernauld to Pitlochry. The successful awardees’ activities span sport events, food gatherings, dance performances, craft workshops and much more. Take a look below for some highlights on what’s in store at the festival in June 2024…

Photo: Sadia Sikandar, Compassion. Digital illustration

Small Grants highlights

Glasgow Afghan United – Youth Football Team

Refugee Football Tournament – Glasgow Afghan United Glasgow

Glasgow Afghan United are celebrating the Festival’s theme of Rise with a huge football event – with over 250 players and 500 guests. In their own words, Glasgow Afghan United are using football “as a means of promoting diversity and the richness that people from many backgrounds bring to Scotland”.

A Taste of Eritrea – AARC (Asylum and Refugee Care) – Aberdeen

AARC are planning an event to bring Eritrean culture to the local community through dancing, art and delicious Eritrean food. The event is open for all – both Eritrean New Scots and other Aberdeen communities. It is a chance to celebrate Eritrean culture, coming together and integration.

Resilience in Flight: Stories of Survival and New Beginnings – Wild Dundee (RSPB Scotland) in collaboration with How It Felt – Dundee

This event, led by RSPB Scotland and How It Felt, celebrates the resilience of Ukrainian families in Dundee through the story of the White-Tailed Eagle’s return to Scotland. These magnificent birds became extinct in Britain in the early 1900s, but are now living here again. RSPB will lead interactive nature education sessions, which will explore the eagle’s significance in both Ukrainian and Scottish culture. How It Felt will conduct creative puppet-making workshops. These hands-on nature and crafts activities are aimed at families, and will explore narratives of resilience and the ability to RISE.

Arts Open projects

Soloway choir

The festival’s Arts Open grant has been awarded to artist Sadia Sikandar, filmmaker Maryam Haddadi and to the Soloway choir.

Sadia Sikandar is a visual artist currently living in Glasgow. Born in Pakistan, Sadia completed a Masters in Fine Art at the University of the Punjab in 2012, going on to exhibit her work in Pakistan, the USA and the UK. In 2020, Sadia was the first Sanctuary and Culture Artist in Residence at D6 Culture in Transit in Newcastle and took part in the Skills Match programme at the West End Refugee Centre throughout 2021. Sadia is planning to develop a mural project, inviting others to get involved.

A multidisciplinary, award-winning documentary filmmaker and graphic designer, Maryam Haddadi is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Directing Film at the University of Edinburgh. She possesses a deep passion for all things creative, particularly emphasizing visual communication and cinema. Her first amateur documentary screened in 19 festivals and won 3 awards. Maryam has also worked as an Assistant Director in several award-winning documentaries. 

For Refugee Festival Scotland, Maryam is going to be working on a participatory performance piece together with other Iranian women who are now living in Scotland.

The Soloway choir was born in November 2022, when Bozhena Yakymenko gathered a group of Ukrainian women who had recently arrived in Glasgow to sing Christmas carols. The choir has been growing steadily since then, as many other Ukrainians are enthusiastic to join.

Soloway has performed at several charity concerts and was invited to sing at an event organised by AUGB Glasgow in George Square this year to mark the second anniversary since the start of the war. The main goal of Soloway is to encourage everyone and share in a message of solidarity: that there is light at the end of every tunnel and we need to be shoulders for one another. 

Soloway will be singing at a festival event celebrating the creativity of community choirs.