Firestation 2

Refugee Week 2017 will see an expanded programme of arts events taking place in Ireland.
Helen Carey, Director of Fire Station Artists’ Studios in Dublin, shares their plans for the week in this guest blog post:

Refugee Week is a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourage better understanding between communities. Fire Station Artists’ Studios was inspired by this initiative and in collaboration with Amel Yacef, decided to pilot a series of talks that can be the start of a more comprehensive plan for the years to come.

To celebrate Refugee Week, we propose a programme of encounters that we hope will create synergies, harvest experiences, honour justice and encourage socially-engaged creativity. Overall, we hope to create opportunities for asylum seekers and refugees to be seen, listened to and valued. Fire Station Artists’ Studios will publish texts that can then be widely disseminated.

Refugee Week Ireland: Our Programme

When does art become activism? When does the activist’s work transform into an expression of artistic creativity? These are two questions which will be looked at in Fire Station Artists’ Studios examination of the role that art can play in the current refugee crisis which is the key concern of our age.

With displaced peoples making their way across the globe, creative activity will find its outlet both among those on the move and those who are hosts, resulting in, among other things, the production of knowledge and the promotion of awareness.

Over three events, this activity and its nature is further explored – for young people, for artists and activists living and working in the Middle East and for those living and working in Ireland:

First encounter: Stuck in the middle – Voices from the Middle East

Thursday 8 June, 4 – 5.30pm, Fire Station Artist’s Studios

Visiting Ireland from the Middle East, our guests will share their experience of socially-engaged art in zones of conflict, their use of art to articulate their experiences, how their topical journeys can be caught in art processes and what they make of how they are perceived by the West.

They will discuss how they use their creativity and their talent to understand the challenges of displacement and where their identities and cultures are under attack. With short presentations and a roundtable discussion, this event will be characterised by exchange and welcome, two of the signatures of the traditional Irish welcome to strangers, which will also come under the scrutiny of our guests.


Moa’taz Dajani Director of Al-Jana (Palestine/Jordan/Lebanon)

Bob Kadi Film maker (Lebanon)

Hachem Kabreet Actor-Youth facilitator (Syria/Lebanon)

Second encounter: Considering who I am

Monday 19th June, 2 – 4.30pm, Fire Station Artists’ Studios

Four young people based in Ireland will share their experiences of conflict and the creative process they have chosen to articulate their journeys. Some artists and others young activists, they will tell the story of asylum-seeking, racism, search for identity and the cultural quest for a sense of belonging.

These young people have all taken part in a project on conflict transformation through creativity called Transforming Shadows.


Nengi Benstowe

Kelvin Akpaloo

Megan Atkinson

Emanuelle Tacima

Third Encounter: Crossing territories as an artist

Tuesday 20th June, 2.00 – 4.30 pm, Fire Station Artists’ Studios

Living as an artist in another country, being cut off from sources of funding, finding no place in the public sphere for creative expression, and yet getting by, thriving as artists despite intense challenges and demands.

These are some of the aspects of living as an artist in Ireland, and in other countries, that will be shared and explored in a roundtable discussion. 

Who We Are

Fire Station Artists’ Studios is in Dublin’s north inner city and was established in 1993 to support professional visual artists. It provides ten subsidised combined living and working studios for Irish and international artists, a curator in residence studio, as well as large scale sculpture workshop facilities.

In addition, FSAS provides training opportunities for artists that combine the practical with the conceptual as well as a project space and meeting room. A key policy of FSAS is to support socially engaged arts practice via critique, art commissions, talks and publications. We also support a community of people who has a shared interest or ambition and works together for common good. FSAS promotes international opportunities for Irish artists through international exchanges, and a curator in residence programme.

Amel Yacef works in the youth sector In Ireland, and is originally from Algeria. A former youth worker, she has been managing and coordinating projects in various areas promoting the voice, rights, health and potential of young people. She has significant experience working with separated children, minority ethnic young people and young people facing injustice and discrimination.

Amel has always been very involved on a voluntary basis in various organisations that relentlessly defend the rights of women and minorities. She has been a voluntary board member of organisations such as Cairde (Migrant health organisation) and Migrant Right Centre Ireland. She also chaired Akidwa (migrant women network of Ireland) for five years and is presently on the board of ENAR Ireland, Amal Muslim Women Association and is Chairperson of the European Network Against Racism EU.

Amel also has extensive experience in contributing to and facilitating processes to enable the voice of the grassroots to find its place and impact in the political discourse.

For further information contact