MUNICIPAL PLANNERS

Practical recommendations and guidance for municipalities 

Here we outline some guidance for those working in towns and cities across Europe seeking to establish their own version of an Art of Belonging programme. 


  • Timetabling of the programme

We advise that an Art of Belonging programme becomes a regular feature of arts and cultural programming for cities and towns with numbers of new arrivals. 

There could be variation in the length of the programmes offered (weekly sessions across a 6-8 week period; a focused week of everyday activity; a weekend of introductory activities) with shorter iterations repeated across the year to reflect the flow of young, forced migrants into urban locations across Europe. We would advise that the timetable combine visits to important local cultural spaces and venues in which the participants engage in arts activities, with opportunities to attend workshops and learn specific arts-processes. 

  • Identifying the gatekeepers to participants

In towns and cities across Europe there is a blend of official and unofficial or voluntary support for those who arrive as forced migrants. It is vitally important to identify who these key people and institutions are. The voluntary networks are often faith or community groups made up of previous diaspora who have settled in the area, and charity or non-governmental organisations. Their work though vital is often unseen. Establishing who has contact and is trusted by new arrivals will make the process of recruiting participants and retaining them on Art of Belonging programmes much smoother. The programme needs to be promoted to gatekeepers working with forced migrants. This will be easier if there is a regular and recognised iteration of the programme. 

  • Co-ordination of the programme

We advocate for the establishment of an Art of Belonging coordinator/ Cultural Rucksack champion role – both coordinating the planned programme of visits to arts and cultural venues and working alongside arts and cultural institutions across the city to identify where their core programming could be modified to be inclusive for new arrivals.  This coordinator could offer professional development for creative practitioners wishing to learn more about the signature pedagogies of artists working with new arrivals. We defined this role in our Final Report in the following way:

The Cultural Rucksack Champion works as an agent or creative producer to identify artists and cultural venues who will work with the young new arrivals. Artists are selected through an interview process with several committed young refugees sitting on the selection panel alongside the Cultural Rucksack Champion and other invested adults such as teachers or youth workers.  

While the artists facilitate regular art sessions and build up close relationships with the refugees, cultural venues may host one-off visits, offering tours and practical activities on site. 

The cultural rucksack champion will liaise with the network of identified gatekeepers to promote the programme. 

Support for artists

We have developed a bank of workshops with session plan outlines for other artists to follow. 

We have also identified a signature pedagogy of artists who work successfully with new arrivals. Information about this can be accessed  


  • Resource development to support the programme

Specific resources which would help both young new arrivals and those working with them to find out where and when activities are happening need to be developed. This could include the establishment of a ‘live’ cultural map of activity and newsletters circulated to a wider partnership of volunteer networks, local businesses and those working within the community to support new arrivals. In addition, we advocate for a city-specific app which new arrivals (not just limited to forced migrants) can find guides/explanations to regular cultural events in the city and surrounding areas 

Existing arts clubs for young people should be supported to reserve/offer free places for one to two newly arrived participants. These, too, could feature on the app/ newsletters. 

Local businesses/ organisations should be encouraged as part of their civic commitments to develop a scheme where staff members are encouraged to volunteer their time, skills or other resource to help the programme become more sustainable. New arrivals who have experienced the programme themselves could be encouraged to become peer mentors on future iterations of the programme.