We are migrant cultural workers.
We organise for justice in a Hostile Environment.
We are a support network and action group that holds
the cultural sector accountable to migrants, citizens of
colour and all others 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 collaborate with peers
and share knowledge to support migrants, citizens of colour
and all others being impacted by the immigration regime.
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.
Migrants, citizens of colour and all others
This is a shared battle. We fight against artificial
distinctions made between legal and illegal, skilled
and unskilled, EU and Non-EU migrants. We will
not be divided into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ immigrants.
We fight against a racist immigration regime, which
doubly impacts people of colour, whether we have
migrated here, were born here or are 5th generation.
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
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 in the creative sector is £22,192 (Men) and
£21,246 (Women) (Institute of Fiscal Studies 2018).
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
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
and many more.