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Migration Matters Celebrating the positive impact of diversity in Sheffield

In the run-up to this year's Migration Matters Festival, Livia Barreira speaks of the importance of this celebration of diversity and culture. 

Migration Matters Festival

We are about to have an excellent opportunity to learn about other cultures and celebrate the positive impact of diversity in Sheffield. The 7th Migration Matters Festival is starting on 17 June and going on until 25 June. When we celebrate diversity, we expand our understanding and respect of other cultures. We tackle stereotypes, while improving our empathy. Another key point about celebrating diversity is we educate ourselves to live in a world where we can appreciate the richness of having different people around us.

Migration Matters Festival this year features 50 vibrant pay-as-you-feel events taking place across 23 incredible venues in Sheffield (places like The Leadmill, Montgomery Theatre, Dina, Yellow Arch Studios, Sidney and Matilda, The Foundry, City of Sanctuary, Bloc Projects, SHU Performance Lab and Drama Studio). You can go to the festival’s website to see the full programme and grab your tickets. Maybe you will also spot the beautiful brochures in one of the festival’s venues, cafes, pubs, restaurants and community centres in Sheffield.

There will be theatre performances, music, dance, workshops, exhibitions, talks, film sessions and installations. Attractions such as Lemn Sissay, Seun Kuti &Egypt 80, Les Amazones D'Afrique, Seyed Ali Jaberi & The Hamdel Ensemble are making their way to Sheffield.

Migration Matters Festival

Since 2016, Migration Matters Festival has been taking place during Refugee Week, with the aim of celebrating different cultures and help marginalised people to feel represented. It has grown to attract international artists and is the biggest UK festival of its kind. This year, 10,000 people are expected to attend the festival’s events.

I am playing an exciting role in this year's festival, working as its Audience Development Manager. I am also putting my voice to the first 2 episodes of my Living in Sheffield podcast (commissioned by the festival and available from 17 June on the Migration Matters Festival website). I am making sure to use this space to highlight migrant women entrepreneurs who are doing well in Sheffield.

Livia Barreira with the brochure for the Migration Matters Festival 2022

My connection with the Festival

I am a journalist who is originally from Brazil and it was the beginning of June 2019 when I first heard about the Migration Matters Festival. I remember that I picked up the festival’s brochure from a cafe in the city centre. At that time, I was in my third year in Sheffield and looking for activities to engage with the local community. I read about the festival's opening party and it caught my attention as it looked so interesting and fun. So I decided to attend it with my husband and a friend who was visiting us at that time. And I was right: we had an amazing time.

Unfortunately, in 2020 due to the pandemic, we only had a small virtual version of the Migration Matters Festival. I participated in an online play organised by the organisation Side by Side.

In 2021, I had the chance to organise an event at the Migration Matters Festival called "Who is the Lusophone Community in Sheffield?". We had a beautiful market with entrepreneurs from Brazil, Portugal and Angola and an Angolan DJ and a Brazilian samba band playing on the stage. It was a great opportunity to bring this community together, as well as showing people from other cultures a little bit about this group. Last year, I was also invited by Tales of Whatever to participate in its event and share my trajectory as a migrant in the UK and the story behind my Instagram account, Living in Sheffield. I felt very emotional and proud of myself on that stage.

We, as migrants, should feel proud of our journeys. We are bringing new perspectives and fresh ideas from our own cultures, while adding diversity to this new country that we call home. The events taking place inside the Migration Matters Festival are for everyone! So let’s come together to celebrate!

Learn more

MIGRATION MATTERS FESTIVAL is the largest Refugee week Festival in the UK. It is a pay-what-you-feel arts festival that celebrates the positive impact migration and refugees have had on Sheffield and the UK.

It is taking place this year from the 17th-25th June.

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