Culture as a Lever for Sustainable Development – an artistic response to the migrant crisis

An inter-territorial cooperation project between 11 LEADER Local Action Groups in Greece used culture as a tool to raise understanding of the unfolding migrant crisis.

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Project summary: 

January-October 2015, more than 250.000 refugees arrived on the island of Lesvos, which itself had a population of only 90000. Whilst local services came under strain and the tourism industry was seriously affected, an impressive local emergency response relied heavily on NGOs and islanders’ solidarity.

To encourage understanding of the plight of the refugees and to promote solidarity, tolerance and humane responses to the crisis, the Lesvos Local Development Agency and 10 other Greek island LAGs organised the Greek Islands Spring Art festival which included a focus on using culture as a lever for sustainable  development.  The  migrant  crisis was a hot topic, recalling events from islanders’ own ancestral history of displacement in 1922, leading to some powerful artistic responses.

Project results: 

The Greek Island Art Spring festival in Lesvos attended by 145 artists and including a series of events, including a conference on ‘culture as a lever for sustainable development’.

A series of highly sensitive works of art highlighting the human reality of the migrant crisis. Three albums of artwork were produced by the Lesvos Local Development Agency: a graphic novel titled ‘The Seagulls’, an album of artwork titled ‘Insularity – Study in a Place’ and an artwork album titled ‘The Passage’.