Arian Photo

Refugee Week at CAN went Digital in 2020!

The Horizons Festival 2020, co-produced by CAN and HOME was unable to take place due to the restrictions presented by Covid-19.

Instead, CAN curated some exciting digital work for Refugee Week June 2020.  We were delighted to share a programme of workshops, performances, film and discussion, created in association with some of the amazing international artists from our creative community in Manchester!

Launched on Sat 13 June #EveryoneCAN celebrates Manchester's status as the most linguistically diverse city in Western Europe, with a series of FREE digital creative workshops and performances for families.

Launched on Sun 14 June #BeyondBorders is a FREE digital programme of performances and film created by international artists from our creative community during lockdown.

Both programmes are available online on  YouTube and Instagram to celebrate #RefugeeWeek2020 and #Imagine a world beyond borders.

Ambrose Musiyiwa (7)

Welcome Ambrose Musiyiwa - PhD researcher

Ambrose Musiyiwa (4)

Earlier this year we shared the good news as CAN embarked on a partnership with The University of Manchester to offer a fully-funded PhD opportunity, ‘Listening to the voices of refugee-heritage artists’ and possibly the first of its kind in the UK.  Now, we are delighted to announce the appointment of Ambrose Musiyiwa as our PhD candidate.

Ambrose is a poet, journalist and photographer. His poems have been featured in many anthologies and his journalism, short stories and essays published in newspapers and magazines in the UK, Zimbabwe, the United States and South Korea. His poem The Man Who Ran Through The Tunnel has been translated into over 12 languages. He has an enduring interest in the intersection between arts, activism, migration and community action and has organised numerous creative projects, including the Leicester Human Rights Arts and Film Festival and Civic Leicester, a community media channel highlighting conversations taking place in and around Leicester.

I am absolutely delighted about being appointed as a PhD candidate and am looking forward to the research. Over the years I have met a good number of people from Manchester and have heard many great things about the city and am looking forward to discovering the city as well.


Ambrose’s research will address the barriers and opportunities refugee-heritage artists experience here in the UK; shining a much needed light on their contributions, offering new insights for the arts and academic sector, as well as provide findings that will have the potential to influence future cultural policy.

This unique partnership between University of Manchester and CAN brings together organisations with a significant track-record and reputation in the sphere of arts and migration in the North West and nationally. This study takes off at an extraordinary time in global history, in the midst of the international Covid-19 crisis and as the UK leaves the European Union. Both the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit will have a significant effect on artists, the arts infrastructure and practices and, among other things, we would like to find out how this is affecting refugee heritage artists.

We are really excited about Ambrose joining us at CAN.  This is a wonderful opportunity for us to deepen our relationship with University of Manchester and work with Ambrose to contribute to new thinking in arts and migration.


It is fantastic to be able to work in collaboration with Community Arts Northwest on this unique and important research project. We’re delighted to be working with Ambrose and we look forward to considering these important questions about arts and migration.


The collaborative doctoral program is funded by AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) via the Northwest Consortium Doctoral Training Programme.  Ambrose will begin working on his PhD in October 2020, until then, we hope you will join us in sending our warmest wishes and a hearty welcome to Ambrose as he prepares for the move to Manchester!

CAN DoIT for web3

CAN Do Creatives - and they’re off!

CAN is an expert in artist development, especially for new migrant artists, and those under-represented in the creative sector.  We launched our new CAN DO Creatives course on Tuesday 22 September 2020.

The course provides targeted training for 21 artists and creatives from a range of artistic disciplines and backgrounds. The programme has the options of either online or in-person training.

This is CAN’s first face-to-face work since lockdown started.   

This free course, funded by the European Social Fund, will support unemployed artists and creatives facing the challenges of building a successful creative career, especially in these uncertain times.

The course delivers bespoke training in employability, including:

Confidence and presentation skills;

Self-employment and finance;

Successful project planning including applying for funding and commissions;

Marketing and networking to grow a profile; ensuring an artist’s practice meets relevant legislation such as health and safety;

Creative sessions to develop a digital showcase of artists’ work to conclude the programme.

The course includes a Survival Skills for the Real World unit where artists can share ideas and talk about working in the current climate of COVID.

COVID has presented more challenges for artists  than just social-distancing and isolation. 

The pandemic is having a huge negative impact on opportunities for artists and the sector is becoming even more competitive. This is a particular challenge for unemployed artists who are new to the UK, emerging artists and those keen to reignite their careers. The landscape of COVID means, that now, more than ever,  there’s a need for artists to upskill, network, grow their profile, and share strategies and approaches.

The first unit, delivered by trainer, Linda Horsburgh related to building confidence, with lots of practical exercises, discussion as well as some theory. The unit was delivered to small groups in person, and online. Participants at the face-to-face sessions were, of course, suitably masked and socially distanced, and delighted to connect.

"Thanks for the session today. Confidence is something that fluctuates for me. I can go from feeling confident about my practise to feeling really low in confidence so today was helpful."

This programme is funded by the European Social Fund.



Coronavirus Update

During this difficult time, our thoughts are with the friends of CAN - the young people, artists, organisations, individuals and communities we work with and we send our thoughts and good wishes to you, your families and loved ones.

The CAN team are following government guidance and focusing our work on supporting artists and young people remotely during lock-down. Please contact the CAN team via email at or telephone on 0161 234 2975.

Your support is more vital than ever during this unprecedented time. It will help to ensure Community Arts North West and the artists, young people and creatives we support flourish in the future.

Click here to donate and support Community Arts North West.



Libraries of Sanctuary Welcome Days

Greater Manchester is a vibrant and international region, where generations of people from all over the world have settled.  This makes our region one of the most culturally exciting places to live in the UK.

Community Arts North West’s Exodus programme brings people together to celebrate this cultural richness and create a strong ethos of welcome in our region.  This year we are collaborating with the Libraries of Greater Manchester and City of Sanctuary to create Welcome Days that invite people to their local library to see great art, make new connections and enjoy creativity together.

Every week our team at CAN discover amazing artists from across the globe who have made Manchester their home. For this project we have commissioned a team of these artists to design Welcome Days that support the Sanctuary ethos.

City of Sanctuary UK supports a network of over 100 towns, cities and villages, holding the vision that the UK will be a welcoming place of safety for all.  As part of this growing initiative, several libraries are becoming ‘Libraries of Sanctuary’.

In 2020/21 CAN will programme a series of Welcome events in libraries across Greater Manchester designed and curated by refugee-heritage artists.

For more information about CAN’s Libraries of Sanctuary Welcome Days please contact Katherine Rogers CAN’s Exodus Creative Producer on

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