‘Celebrating Syria’ is an annual festival that brings together Syrian artists, writers, filmmakers and performers from around the world, to share their rich and varied culture with the people of Manchester and beyond.
For many people, the little they know of Syria and its people comes from media coverage of the conflict. Syria is so much more than that. Its beating heart is filled with the treasures emanating from a deep well of artistic creativity. The news from Syria and the sadness, death, and misery that continue to pour out from the unrest must be juxtaposed against another vision of Syria – one that is filled with beauty, creativity, rebirth and hope. This festival is a celebration of this hope, inspiration and imagination and the Syrian people’s rich contribution to the collective history of human expression, changing the narrative about Syria from one characterised by violence, pain and suffering, into one where Syria’s remarkable contribution to human civilisation is recognised and celebrated.
Arts and culture are important components of any national identity. Syrian communities abroad keep alive a vital link to their beleaguered homeland through the creation and enjoyment of music, art, storytelling and performance. The 2011 revolution marked a turning point in Syria’s history that resulted in unprecedented changes to Syrian society and to Syrians’ cultural identity. These shifts are having a great impact on the Syrian artists both in Syria and in exile.
Manchester is home to a large Syrian community who arrived here before and during the conflict. Celebrating Syria draws them together to share the art and culture of their homeland with the wider community in Manchester, adding to the diversity of this great multicultural city.
The festival started in 2017 and is organised by Rethink Rebuild Society, a Manchester-based charity that works towards improving the lives of refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants, in particular but not exclusively Syrians, in the UK helping them become positively established within British society.