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In response to the issue of how arts organizations can support inclusion efforts of refugees and migrants in Europe, we launched a collaboration with the Dutch music training center, Akoesticum and Landesmusikakademie NRW (North Rhine Westphalia, Germany), offering a series of expert meetings for musicians and organizations who use the performing arts, arts education and community arts in social inclusion processes in different European countries and contexts.

The goals of these meetings are:

  • To frame and understand the role and contribution of the arts, and artists, to our societies in the context of the shifts and upheavals of these times.
  • To learn from each other’s work, the successes and failures, the challenges and solutions, to share information and to inspire each other.
  • To build our network and alliances with other sectors (e.g. education, human rights, social activists).
  • To create an online database to document and share various initiatives and tools that are directed at supporting refugee inclusion through the arts.

Activities to date:

November 24, 2016: MwB director Laura Hassler and trainer Marion Haak Schulenburg presented on our work to the members of the Landesmusikakademie in Germany

February 9-10, 2017: Expert meeting at Akoesticum (Ede, the Netherlands)

9 February: Focus on ‘good practices’: inspirational examples of successful cultural projects responding to the refugee situation in Europe and working for social integration through the arts. Project presenters shared their inspiration, limitations or challenges encountered, and insights for successful strategies.


  • Laura Hassler, Founder and Director, Musicians Without Borders
  • Catching Cultures (Tivoli Vredenburg, Utrecht) – Amateur Dutch orchestras and bands create and organize performances in collaboration with refugee musicians.
  • Stichting Vrolijkheid (Happiness Foundation) – Arts projects for children in Dutch Asylum Seekers Centers.
  • Europa Cantat (Sing Me In) – European choral organization tools for the use of singing for social integration.
  • Darren Abrahams (UK), co-founder of the School Bus Project, using the arts in mobile education projects for refugee children in the Jungle camp, Calais and elsewhere.
  • Matthias Rietschel – Local project (German example) Integration refugee children and childeren from Essen Essen/Kray through music-projects.
  • Crispijn Oomes – Dutch world music booking organization providing opportunities for performing refugee artists.

10 February: Featured speakers looked at integration projects from an institutional perspective with the aim to understand the broader (European/ world) context, explore different methodologies, and hear from other stakeholders, such as funders and government, on issues of social integration and the dilemmas around (forced) migration in Europe.


  • Eduard Nazarski, Director, Amnesty International Netherlands
  • Sandra Trienekens, Researcher and owner, Urban Paradoxes.
  • Rick Vechel, Center Manager, Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA)

March 15-16: Expert Meeting in Heek, Germany

The program included:

  • Landesmusikrat NRW: overview of music projects in NRW, Germany
  • Mizgin Gülmüs (Sing mit mir / sing with me): project for unaccompanied under aged refugees in the city of Essen
  • Laura Hassler, Anna Rose Swinkels & Otto de Jong (Musicians without Borders)
  • Sophie Lamprou (El Sistema Greece): music project following the Venezuelan model launched in refugee camps in Greece in 2015
  • Sascha Düx (ROOTS & ROUTES): network promoting international exchange of young artists, talent development, promotion of social and cultural diversity in arts and media, and interdisciplinary projects across Europe
  • Julian Fifer (Musicians for Human Rights, Italy)
  • Darren Abrahams (Crisis Classroom – Empowerment through Education for all Refugees, UK)