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Call Out to Artists - Activity Pack Commission

Call Out to Artists - Activity Pack Commission

28th May 2020

Music in Detention works inside immigration detention centres across the UK, with artists co-creating original sound tracks with people held in the centres. We record these tracks in detention and then take them out to the rest of the world mainly through our online music player, production of CDs and via radio, exhibition, creation of covers and other interpretations of the work. Tracks are often compelling fusions of international music styles. Their creation gives detainees agency and confidence and people can ‘escape’ into the music. Distribution of the tracks raises awareness about immigration detention and feeds into attitude change around immigration and refugees.  Please do check out some of the tracks here: https://www.musicindetention.org.uk/player/

Each year thousands of people (10 year average: 28000) are detained in UK immigration detention centres. People are detained with no judicial process: this is administrative measure that assists their removal from the UK. The UK is the only country in Europe to detain people indefinitely; sometimes this can be up to 5 years. No one knows how long they will be in immigration detention or where they will go when they are released.

During the COVID-19 crisis we are told around 450 people continue to be held in immigration detention. As the majority of flights have been cancelled, most of them can’t be deported in the near future. The situation inside is pretty grim. All face to face visits have been cancelled. It’s very hard for people in detention centres to socially isolate and access to medical provision can be difficult. On top of this, we read in the newspapers that people in detention are now being held in solitary confinement, if they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. 

Music In Detention want to make contact with people who are still in detention and offer creative opportunities which will help them cope. There are a number of restrictions on what we can actually do, but one way is via ‘activity packs’, which we can forward to detention centres as downloadable PDFs, to be printed out and circulated to everyone by activities staff.

We are now offering 8 artist commissions of £500 each, to create different ideas and activities to bring inspiration and solidarity to people in detention centres. Ideas would need to be expressed visually, ie explained on A4 print outs. This is an open call out. All decisions will include input from artists we have previously met when incarcerated in immigration detention. If you have lived experience of Immigration Detention and you want to apply to this, we can offer you mentoring to talk through thinking and ideas. Please email gini@musicindetention.org.uk for more info.

At this stage we want no more than one paragraph outlining your idea. 8 of these will then be taken forward with £500 to further develop each idea, which will then be included in a nicely designed pack.  

Detention Centres differ from prisons in many ways, which would need to be taken into account. 

As follows:

  • Many people in immigration detention do not speak English as a first language. Some don’t speak it at all. It is possible to get staff and other people in detention to translate, if it’s simple. 
  • The majority of detention centres have very limited resources, much less than prisons. Access to activity spaces and resources such as arts rooms, etc is limited. Resources and equipment are all limited
  • It’s unlikely the detention centres would print packs out in colour
  • People are incredibly anxious, due to lack of clarity around their futures
  • We need agreement from Detention Centres to distribute the packs. The detainee voice is always paramount for us, but we need to be careful that we don’t jeopardise access to people in detention, so contentious material needs to be carefully framed
  • The majority of people in detention have low spec mobile phones (without internet access) 

Applications need to include:

  1. Name and contact details 
  2. A paragraph outlining your idea(s)
  3. Any additional information (max 2 paragraphs) you think we should know about.

The deadline for submission is Friday 5th June 2020. We aim to let you know the outcome the following week (ending June 12th). Please email submission to info@musicindetention.org.uk

If you have any questions please email gini@musicindetention.org.uk