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A night to remember, as Cowley young people perform music created with detainees

April 18, 2018

By Gini Simpson, Arts Development Manager

On Friday 23 March, songs co-written by detainees held at Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) and musicians from the My Normal music project, were performed in public for the first time.

Campsfield House IRC is based on the outskirts of Oxford, near the airport. It holds a maximum of 276 male detainees and is run by Mitie PLC. My Normal is an inclusive music project, working with LGBTQ + and disabled young people, based at the Ark T Centre, a community arts centre, café and home to the Oxford Public Living Room, located in Cowley, Oxford. Public Living Rooms are community-spirited, comfortable spaces which are open to everyone.

In February and March 2018, artists Oliver Seager and Anna de Mutiis delivered 12 workshops with detainees at Campsfield House and My Normal participants, and were supported by MID volunteer workshop assistant Max Cohen. In separate sessions at the IRC and Ark T, the two groups wrote music and lyrics which were recorded and swapped between groups; they then worked on each other’s music to co-create songs about their own life experiences. The groups never met, but facilitated by artists, they shared experiences and sounds and got to know each other.

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