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Norwich Arts Centre – A Theatre of Sanctuary

Norwich Arts Centre leads the way by joining the Sanctuary movement.

As part of their commitment to Norwich City of Sanctuary, the Arts Centre commissioned an original piece of theatre, provide their venue free of charge for our events and offer free entry to refugees and asylum-seekers. Evidence of their support for the aims of the Sanctuary movement led to them winning a Sanctuary award in 2018.

To me, particularly at that moment in history, it was a cultural and political act, to put a flag in the ground. We wanted to show that we are a place where strangers are welcome. I felt we had to. It is part of our ethos which says we will always consider everyone.”

Pasco Kelvin


How they became a Theatre of Sanctuary

Norwich Arts Centre’s steps to success

Working with local refugee charities

Norwich Arts Centre works closely with local charity, New Routes, who support refugee and asylum seekers settling in the city. Through their links, they found participants who wanted to help research and perform an original piece of theatre called ‘The Journey.’ 

Providing their venue free of charge

Norwich Arts Centre is committed to working alongside relevant organisations as well as actively looking for artists whose work centres around migrant issues. They provide their venue free of charge for events supporting the refugee community and help with promotion and event management. 

Producing an original theatre about migrants

The Journey tells of the emotional, psychological and physical effects experienced by those forced to flee their homes. To research the play, writer/director Steve Lambert visited The Lebanon and camps on the Syrian border to learn of the desperate measures people can be forced to endure as they strive to survive. In Norwich he worked with refugee communities to develop a drama that told the story of fleeing conflict. 

Supporting Refugee Week

During Refugee Week, they have hosted True Stories Live, where refugees and asylum-seekers told their stories on stage. Norwich Arts Centre are supporting plans for a city-wide festival during Refugee Week in 2020 celebrating migration in Norwich, led by Norwich City of Sanctuary’s Arts Stream.

Planning future projects

Pasco Kelvin is very proud of the success of this play, which is now touring the UK: “We are constantly looking for more opportunities like this. Ideas are our currency so we are very open to working with artists in different ways. We are a cultural organisation with ambitions to do more for our communities.”


Reaching out to diverse audiences

“Why wouldn’t you want the opportunity to diversify audiences and create bespoke projects with people in the community which tell different stories? Our culture is richer for telling stories. If we ignore parts of our community, especially when our society is fragmented and polarised, we miss out. More organisations should get involved. Do what you can. Why wouldn’t you?” Pasco Kelvin, Director.