2017 sees a significant fundraising collaboration between the Vault Festival and Crew for Calais. As part of the underground Vault Festival, a magical and exciting performing arts space, hidden beneath Waterloo Station and running from the end of January to the middle of March (www.vaultfestival.com), Crew for Calais will be raising money and awareness of the work we have done and the work we will continue to do.
Crew for Calais exist to help motivate and mobilise people in the performing arts and technical theatre industries to put their skills to good use supporting refugees across Europe. Our primary focus has been on providing humanitarian support to refugees at the camps in Northern France during 2016.
For 2017 we want to continue to support citizen-led charities with their work tackling this ongoing crisis on the ground around the UK and Europe. We use our volunteers and our networks to provide these organisations with highly skilled volunteers, as well as useful equipment/supplies. During 2016 we sent Stage Managers to help run Warehouse distribution services in Calais, set builders to build shelters in Calais and Dunkirk camps alongside many other volunteers. We helped theatres and theatre companies donate sets and building materials to the Calais build team, we organised trips with pre-made shelters, constructed in theatres across the UK to provide warm, waterproof accommodation in the middle of the Northern winter. We even helped to provide a Trauma therapist to visit the Calais warehouse in the wake of the final closure to offer some training to volunteers on dealing with trauma.
This partnership is very important to Crew for Calais. It is a way of raising funds and awareness of our work, both within the Performing Arts Industry and with the wider public.
We hope to attract more volunteers from the theatre industry to donate their valuable skills and experience to help refugees and asylum seekers both in the UK and abroad.
On top of this all funds raised will support our work expanding the remit of our operations. It's our opportunity to scale up our fundraising and outreach work by working with another exciting theatrical partner in the UK capital.
About the Collaboration
Our contribution to Vault Festival is not limited to our charity fundraising efforts. Our volunteers and charity team are closely tied to the creative side as well. Vault Festival is our opportunity to start to address a key problem:
‘How can we change the prevailing narrative around refugees in the UK?’
Part of our answer has to do with the stories we in the performing arts industry choose to tell, how we choose to tell them and who has the right to tell them?
As creatives working within the industry we feel it is really important that we seek to challenge the negative portrayal of refugees that we see in the mainstream media, but also that we avoid the traps of just romanticising or pitying them either. Our approach is to commission and produce work that challenges both these narratives.
We have asked Crew for Calais volunteers, supporters and fundraising groups to create works of performance art/theatre for Vault Festival. Each piece of work has been crafted around data and statistics. Some of the shows are drawn from information in the Refugee Rights Reports. (http://refugeerights.org.uk/reports/) Some from the work of Charities and NGOs on the ground in France.
The Refugee Rights Data Project collect data directly from the refugees in the camps of northern France. Many of our members have volunteered there this year and the majority of the creatives involved in this work have first-hand experience working on the camps or with charity organisations here. These reports are filled with facts (not fury or romanticism, facts).
In a collection of stripped-back performances, Crew for Calais artists use music, theatre, the Refugee Rights Data Project reports and lived experience to connect us with the day-to-day experiences of the refugees in Calais and beyond.