Sheba Festival 2021, Manchester

After successful shorter runs and online runs over the past two years, this year Sheba Arts CIC, a Manchester-based not-for-profit organisation, hosts its first full week, in-person, community festival that will showcase the best of community migrant art that Greater Manchester and North England has to offer. 

This year, an exciting programme lined up, all community and arts-focused:

  • Two days at Central Library in partnership with Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Centre
  • One day in South Manchester’s Hulme Garden Centre
  • One day in Stockport, and two days led by local community groups Everything Human Rights in Leigh and Doosti Community Group in Salford.  

Established and emerging artists came together to perform, some highlights were music dialogue between Iranian citar and Cameronian Jazz, Sufi music, La Nagualita, a play written by Sally Hilton, a Guatemalan artist, exciting multi-media monologues and spoken word by artists from different backgrounds, and much more. They held workshops for adults and children, magic entertainment, and offered traditional food almost every day. To learn more about the events, visit

Watch the festival’s promo video:

refugee festival in manchester hosted by Sheba Arts

Refugee celebrations

It has been a busy month for most refugee communities and the art sector across the country as the refugee week was celebrated by festivals and venues from the 18th  to 21st of June.

There were two great events in Manchester. The main refugee festival was held at HOME,  in collaboration with Community Arts North West and charity organisations such as Rainbow Haven, WAST and other charities working with refugees.  I was honoured to be part of this festival with my one-woman show.

I performed One More Push at the New Adelphi Theatre in Salford on the 8th of June. I graduated from Salford University last year and that’s why I chose to collaborate with them. It has been a great experience I would love to work with them again.

My second performance was at HOME, on the 18th of June.

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I had a lovely audience at both events and enjoy performing for them.

One More Push is an autobiographical piece, reflecting on my life journey from Iran to the UK and from a journalist and political activist to an artist. That was my first solo show and it received positive feedback from the audience and also a 3-star review by Manchester theatre awards.

Another festival held by Journey’s festival in collaboration with WIthworth gallery. I was involved in that one too. In the last couple of months, I have been busy setting up and a company called Sheba Arts. I managed to find a few strong women as our board of trustees and things are getting into shape slowly.

Sheba Arts is a self-advocacy group that aims to support people and artists from marginalised migrant communities across Greater Manchester.

We managed to have our first public presentation at the refugee day in Whitworth gallery. I ran 18 drama workshops for a group of refugee and asylum seekers who called themselves Women of Courage, and they showcased their work at the event which received great feedback. We are invited to be part of the next Journey’s festival in October 2018 too.

Sheba Arts has managed to secure its first funding from PANDA Arts to produce a website for the group. PANDA Arts is a great organisation and it has been supporting thousands of artists but sadly they are closing down due to funding cuts.

You can follow Sheba Arts Facebook page to stay in touch with what we are doing:

Looking forward to the more great news!

Celebrating syria is in Manchester now

Celebrating Syria has come to Manchester.  Although I am a bit late to make this announcement it is not too late as there are 2 days left with a family fun day on Sunday.

The festival is a fortnight of exhibition, films, theatre, live music,
talks by writers, panel discussions and interactive art workshops exploring Syrian arts and culture before and after 2011.

The first of its kind in the UK, this festival is a celebration of a hopeful, inspiring and imaginative face of Syria and the Syrian people and their rich contribution to the collective history of human expression.

All the events are FREE for refugees and asylum seekers and you can tag along with your friends.  The people at the festival are too kind and they won’t ask for your ID’s. 🙂 But it is nice if you can pay for your tickets to support the artists.

I am going to this concert tomorrow and I am excited to see more talented Syrian artists.  I have been to a few events so far and they have been super amazing.

for more information go to their website and also spread the word.


our city, our home: Refugee festival is coming to Manchester

It’s festival season in Manchester and Refugee Festival is coming with events taking place across the country.

Our beautiful city is recovering from a brutal terrorist attack that took many lives including children’s.  People putting flowers in St. Anne’s Square, and Arena centre in memory of those who killed in the attack. It’s the time that brought people together, a sense of community that everybody is feeling these days.

Meanwhile, 2 massive suicide bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan killed many civilians, women and children among them. What an absurd world we live in!

Our City, Our Home, is a special event for Refugee Week, organised in conjunction with Manchester Refugee Support Network (MRSN) and Z-arts to celebrate the positive contribution that refugees make to the UK.

You can join the festival on 23 June from  4 pm – 8:30 pm. It is going to be an evening of live performances, food, music and dancing. Everyone of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to attend free of charge.

There will be plenty of activities and entertainment for all ages including:
– Children’s Workshops
– Face painting
– Henna
– Exploring culture through objects
– Jam session – bring along an instrument or borrow one of ours and join in with the music making

There will be a performance from Neda Naser as well as the premiere of new performance pieces. These will be created especially by our Artists in Residence.

I will be collaborating with the festival as an artist in residence to create a piece of poetry. Please share the news and let your friends know.  Here is a link to the event on Facebook for you to like and share if you wish:

Empowering Women: A Unique Exhibition of Refugee Women

Go and see this amazing exhibition by non-professional women who came together to express themselves through painting.

No automatic alt text available.Empowering the women” is a collection of artwork from women who are members of Migrants Supporting Migrants, an organisation working to advance the well-being and rights of migrants. The women of MSM, students, volunteers, teachers, and staff have come together to create artwork in workshops for the last month, which will be on show in Room 22, Methodist Hall, Manchester City Centre. 

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This collection embodies Ruba Mourad’s statement that there is a ‘hope to overcome the cycle of abuse, to emerge free and strong from the darkness’.

OPENING EVENT is at 12pm on Wednesday 8th March 2017.
The exhibition is open on Thursday and Friday, 10am till 5pm.

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Updates on Dianne Case

From Jam’na Keats facebook page:


According to Lucy Powell, Dianne has had her deportation deferred whilst her right of appeal is assessed. If true, this is PHENOMENAL but nowhere near the end!

Dianne will still be detained in Yarl’s Wood whilst her case is reviewed. We NEED to keep up the pressure!

Dianne should have been on a plane to Zambia via Kenya 1 hour ago.

From what we know that flight has left, WITHOUT Dianne!

Think about that..

WE, collectively, through ALL OUR EFFORTS, stopped THE STATE deporting a human being today. It started with 30 people outside a detention centre in Salford and has escalated to thousands upon thousands of people, from all walks of life, demanding Dianne Must Not be Detained or Deported!.

She is still detained, but she isn’t gone. She is still in the UK. Despite the wishes of the Home Office.

This is how democratic power works. Not abstract righteousness but localised pressure. Human and immediate.

This is as huge momentary success. But it isn’t a total victory.


We can do this!

The case of Dianne Ngoza


There is a campaign going on in Manchester for Dianne Ngoza, a woman from Congo who is in  danger of being  deported.

I met Dianne last year at Methodist church in Manchester. I was volunteered to work with MSM ( Migrants Supporting Migrants) in a project called ” Migrant Echoes” which was a Media project aimed to strengthen  migrants and ethnic groups. Dianne was one our interviewees.

Dianne has come to England more than 15 years ago on a visa and tried to renew it but  complications encountered in the process and she tried to apply for leave to remain. All her attempt failed and she is now taken to Yarl’s wood to be deported to her home country. I have visited Yarl’s Wood last year and wrote about it on this blog.  It is a terrible place. Detainees do not enjoy fresh air and they have to eat potato everyday.  Yarl’s wood is not providing with adequate food for Dianne’s vegan diet.

On November 16 when Dianne went to Dallas Court to report (there is an obligation for all migrants who do not have status to report weekly, or monthly) she was taken inside by home office officers. They attempt to take her out in a van but people blocked the road, so they turned back. People stood in the rain the whole day so that home office had to negotiate and promise they will take her to Pennine House at Manchester Airport,  they never did. She’s been given removal orders for Wednesday.

Dianne is not a criminal and she does not have to be kept in a horrible place like Yarl’s Wood. I call it refugees Guantanamo.

Please listen to her story and spread the news. We as human beings have a duty to support her and fight for freedom of refugee prisoners.

Follow news here;

Listen to the interview here

No Refugee in Calais



It has been long time since I updated this blog due to my university assignments  ( I am doing creative writing /MA). However, I have been reading news everyday and there is a lot to talk about. Most importantly, is the Calais refugee camp in france which has  been shut down and hundreds of refugees  were taken  on buses for accommodation centres elsewhere in France and a few of them were brought to the UK.

I was very keen on doing a project about Calais refugees last year, but I was unable to secure financial sources for it and the project remained on paper. I was going to write their stories and record them to be used as fictitious monologues on stage here in the UK.

In videos I watched on the news websites, people were upset because they felt like they were being removed from their home. According to an estimation by aid organisations, the number of people in the camp had reached an all-time high of almost 10,000.

Ten thousands people in cold winter and hot summer lived in tents, with no electricity and drinking water. It sounds almost like living in the war zones.

I hope French new policy allows Jungle refugees to live a decent life in france.



Iranian refugee wins cartooning award

Have you heard the story of a detainee in Papua New Guinea who has won cartooning award?
Ali, an Iranian refugee held at Papua New Guinea Manus Island detention centre, and whose pen name is Eaten Fish, drew cartoons to depict life inside the camp. Ali struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and debilitating panic attacks and he has been held there for 3 years now.

A cartoon by Ali, an Iranian refugee held at Papua New Guinea's Manus Island detention centre whose pen name is Eaten Fish, is seen in this image supplied to Reuters on August 27, 2016.     Eaten Fish/Handout via REUTERS

According to Reuters;

”Under Australia’s hardline immigration policy, anyone intercepted trying to reach the country by boat is sent for processing to camps on Manus or Nauru in the South Pacific. They are not eligible to be resettled in Australia.

A cartoon by Ali, an Iranian refugee held at Papua New Guinea's Manus Island detention centre whose pen name is Eaten Fish, is seen in this image supplied to Reuters on August 27, 2016.   Eaten Fish/Handout via REUTERS

Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) said Ali was recognized for his courage in documenting life under Australia’s offshore detention program – which drew thousands of protesters onto streets across the country on Saturday calling for its closure.

“Eaten Fish has been able to keep up a stream of cartoons documenting the unspeakable abuses and excesses of the guards and administrators of the camp,” Joel Pett, president of CRNI’s board of directors, said in a statement on Friday.

“For this he has been the subject of beatings, deprivation of food, and even worse degrading treatment by the guards.”

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection denied the claims made by CRNI and defended the care provided at the facility.

“The department currently has no evidence that any of these allegations are true,” a spokesman said in an email to Reuters.

Australia and Papua New Guinea said earlier this month the Manus center would be shut but they gave no date for the closure, leaving the fate of about 800 refugees unclear.”

(Reporting by Harry Pearl; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Guardian reports on asylum houses in London

Watch the video here

I have been to this house a few times to visit a friend of mine who is an asylum seeker and lives in a single room with her daughter. The little girl, age 5,  is suffering from Arthritis and she is going to school this year. When I went there I was shocked to see al the children living in such condition. One of them was autistic and lived in a little room with his mother. There was hardly one meter room for them to play, no garden , no toys.

According to Guardian,  dozens of vulnerable asylum seeker women and children are living in filthy, overcrowded and dangerous conditions in Home Office accommodation in west London. The owner of the property lives next door in very different conditions. Hounslow council is now carrying out an official inspection after the Guardian raised concern.