We are migrant cultural workers.
We organise for justice in the Hostile Environment.
We are a support network and action group that holds the cultural sector accountable to migrants, citizens of colour and all other people being impacted by the immigration regime, in our workplaces and neighbourhoods.
We live, work and pay taxes in the UK, but have no political representation. We work in economically and legally precarious workplaces, where we are invisible or hypervisible. We refuse to be tokens of internationalism or ‘diversity’ without a voice in our sector.
Together we use our skills and resources to change the way the cultural sector operates.
We are migrants in culture.
Migrant Cultural Workers
People who work in the cultural sector, and self-identify as migrants, with the experiences of migration in their lives, or are being profiled as migrants because of the colour of their skin or their accent, regardless of their legal status.
We fight against artificial distinctions made between legal and illegal, skilled and unskilled, EU and Non-EU migrants. This is a shared battle. We will not be divided into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ immigrants.
Citizens of colour
We fight against a racist immigration regime, which doubly impacts people of colour, whether we have migrated here, were born here or are fifth generation. We fight against conditional citizenship and statelessness.
A broad sector including subsidised cultural production, commercial galleries and theatres, community-led and grassroots activities and cultural programmes in education.
Launched in 2010, the UK Home Office Hostile Environment Policy (yes that is the actual name of the policy) is a set of administrative and legislative measures designed to make life in the United Kingdom as difficult as possible for people without leave to remain in the hope that they may "voluntarily leave." This also includes illegal practices such as "Deport now - Ask later."
This ‘targeted’ policy has consequences for us all. The Hostile Environment forces landlords, banks, hospitals and employers including universities and cultural institutions to run immigration status checks – making people proxy border agents. In doing so, borders are brought into our everyday lives, seeding a culture of fear and distrust. People of colour, regardless of their legal status, are more likely to be asked to prove their status because they are deemed to be ‘foreign’. If, for whatever reason, you do not have the right paperwork, the Hostile Environment gives the Home Office more power and less judicial oversight to deport you. As the Windrush Scandal has demonstrated, citizens have been wrongly deported with destructive consequences on individuals, families and society.
Migrants working together to hold decision makers in the cultural sector to account. This includes decision makers acknowledging a lack of understanding and/or responsibility to migrants, citizens of colour and others in the workplace and neighbourhood, decision makers using their resources to remedy a given situation, and cultural workers acting together to shift the operation of the cultural sector.
Economically and Legally Precarious
Most of us are freelancers, who experience unreliable sources of income, a lack of sick leave, pension, parental leave and holidays, and an increased difficulty in gaining settled status. The average annual income of artists is £16,150 with only 36% of this income coming out of their own art practice.
We lack support from the cultural sector around our legal rights to live and work in the UK. Institutions are often unaware of how the Home Office operates and how expensive it is to apply for visas and the paperwork required. We are also currently seeing a growing trend of restrictions being put in place that deter migrant cultural workers from applying to specific funding pots, development schemes and jobs.
Although we pay taxes, migrants are excluded from representational democracy. Most of us cannot vote locally, nationally, for referendums, or stand for government. Our voices are largely invisible in British policy and politics.
Achieving ‘diversity’ is now tied to funding from trusts, foundations and the Arts Council of England. Migrant cultural workers especially migrants of colour, often end up feeling used and thinking ‘you want the picture but not the person that comes with it’. Our identities are not products for cultural consumption.
Skills and Resources
We are tired of the art of ‘representation’, which uses migrant stories but doesn’t fight for migrant rights. As designers, producers, artists, curators, educators, administrators, technicians and more, we are skilled, resourceful and networked. Let’s change how the cultural sector operates.
Many groups are working to oppose the Hostile Environment in the UK and hostile environments across the world, including Migrants Organise, Unis resist border controls, Against Borders For Children, Docs not Cops, Anti-Raids Network, NELMA, United Workers of the World, Voices of Domestic Workers, Feminist Anti Fascist Assembly, End Deportations (Stansted15), Lesbians and Gays Support The Migrants, and many more.