The Leicester Museum and Art Gallery has been awarded the prestigious Museum of Sanctuary award for their work on welcoming asylum seekers to Leicester who have been fleeing violence and persecution. The museum and art gallery is one of just five in the UK to win an award for welcoming people of all backgrounds into the city.
City of Sanctuary UK, a national charity that works to promote the UK as a welcoming place of safety for all, granted the award. It recognises the commitment the council’s museums and gallery team has made to ensure access to the city’s museums for all residents of Leicester city. This inclusivity extends to new arrivals, asylum seekers and refugees.
Deputy city mayor for culture Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “We have worked closely with many local organisations that help refugees and asylum seekers, delivering a wide range of projects to celebrate their contribution to Leicester and challenge myths.
“Our museums are National Portfolio Organisations, which means we receive Arts Council England funding. This assists with our ongoing ‘Welcoming Museums’ project, and allows us to work with local people to create exhibitions such as ‘Sanctuary Birds’, where refugees, asylum seekers and members of Leicester City of Sanctuary created artwork representing birds flying to freedom.
“It also helps us to stage an annual programme of events for Refugee Week, co-produced by our local refugee and asylum seeker communities. These initiatives support our wider aim of increasing the diversity of museum audiences in Leicester.”
City of Sanctuary UK supports a network of groups across the country to engage in practical activity and advocacy to help welcome people seeking sanctuary. Shali Bullough from Leicester City of Sanctuary said: “We are absolutely delighted that Leicester Museum and Art Gallery has been recognised with this Sanctuary Award.
“We have organised activities with the museum for many years, and we know how much our group enjoys our visits there. It gives them confidence to take their families there independently and to benefit from the many exciting opportunities provided by the museums service in our city.”
A celebratory event to present the award is apparently in the planning stages for when circumstances allow, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
By Sam Ellison