The band Kausary - 4 musicians holding various instruments including drums - stand in the woods in front of a big tree.

About Celebrating Sanctuary: Refugee Week Takeover at MAC

The much-loved festival of music and arts from around the world returns to celebrate the contribution of refugee and migrant artists to our cultural landscape.

Enjoy a lively celebration with music, dance, poetry, theatre and family fun, featuring amazing artists from Peru, Sudan, Kurdistan and beyond.

The free family festival day will take place throughout MAC including the Hexagon Theatre and Outdoor Theatre. All ages are welcome.

12-1pm – Hexagon Theatre – Refugee Week Launch

  • Presentations
  • Spoken word from Stories of Hope and Home
  • Poem for Refugee Week by Ahmed Magare (Somalia)
  • Kausary acoustic to close

1pm – From Hexagon through foyer into arena – procession led by Kausary

1.10 – 3.25 - Outdoor Arena

  • Ukrainian School Band
  • Mohamed Osman (Sudan)
  • Breza (Czech & Slovak Folk Ensemble)
  • Kausary (Peru)

3.30-4.30pm - Hexagon Theatre

  • “Women” by Lora Arkhypenko (Cert 12A) – 3.30pm (27 mins)

(short film following the lives of 3 Ukrainian women forced to leave their homes)

  • Spoken word (WWB) 4pm
  • In Her Shoes to close

4.30pm – From Hexagon through foyer into arena – Procession led by In Her Shoes

4.40 – 6.30pm – Outdoor Arena

  • Queen Lilas (DR Congo / France)
  • Zirak Hamad & Daholl Band (Kurdistan)

About the artists

Queen Lilas

Queen Lilas, formerly known as Lilas Lafleur, was born and raised in Paris to Congolese parents. Her music is positive and from the heart. She is a gifted and accomplished musician, composer and producer who plays piano, guitar, percusssion and more. Lilas was trained by her uncle and highly respected Zoukous artist, Diblo Dibala, a Congolese musician, known as “Machine Gun” for his speed and skill on the guitar. In recent years, Lilas has performed and recorded with him as a backing singer.

Lilas supported R&B superstar, Ne-Yo at his sell-out North East England After Party in Sunderland in 2009, and has performed at various venues and festivals around the UK such as 'Taste of Africa' (Middlesborough), 'L'Afrique Festival' (Newcastle). She recorded and released songs as a featured artist with Roc Nation / Sony RCA artist K Koke. Having spent the last 3 years producing, writing and arranging her album, “Ntoto” released in October 2023, we are delighted to welcome Lilas to our programme for the first time.

Zirak Hamad and Daholl Kurdish Band

Zirak Hamad is a violinist, drummer and singer who came to the UK in 2002 from Iraqi Kurdistan. A graduate of the Institute of Fine Arts in Iraq, he has a wide range of artistic experience in his home country where he worked as a teacher, festival organiser, broadcaster, television presenter and music critic. During his time in the UK he has worked as a freelance artist delivering Middle Eastern dance and music workshops for schools, community groups and festivals, in the UK and internationally. He performed with eclectic trio Village Well and gypsy/klezmer band Karaj, as well as forming Daholl Kurdish Band. Zirak also performs as a solo artist introducing audiences to a range of Middle Eastern music and drumming.

Daholl Kurdish Band is an energetic blend of Kurdish and Middle Eastern music which ranges from traditional to contemporary popular dance music.


Kausary are one of Europe’s best-known Andean bands. They boast an exciting, expressive and talented line-up that will enchant any audience with their sounds of Latin America. Whether it is music for the heart or for the feet. Formed in 1995, in the UK, Kausary has a repertoire of traditional Andean and contemporary Latin sounds. Music of the Andean highlands, coastal lowlands, Amazon basin and forest, Cuban and Latin are all played with a depth of emotion unequalled.

“Our passion is to promote Peruvian and South American music, together with raising more awareness of Peru and Latino - America in the UK and the rest of the world.”

Breza (Czech & Slovak)

Formed in 2018, Folk Ensemble, Breza is now over 25 members strong, performing traditional dance and music in classical Slovak costumes with traditional instruments.

Under the tutorage of professional dance chorographer Petra Dona, Breza have performed nationally at wedding ceremonies, community events, The Commonwealth Festival in 2022 & Birmingham Festival in 2023. Also at Centenary Square and MAC during Refudee Week 2023.

They perform as a large ensemble and in smaller groups and will be presenting a 6 piece ensemble for Refugee Week 2024.

Mohamed Osman (Sudan)

Mohamed Osman is a multi-talented Sudanese artist who sings in the Arabic language as well as Tigre. Mohamed has performed for us the last 2 years for Refugee Week with his band and as a duet, and got everyone up and dancing in the MAC Outdoor Theatre. We are delighted to welcome him back this year with his band.

Ukrainian School

Children from the Ukrainian School in Nottingham will perform alongside Ukrainian musician and singer Iryna Muha. Involving violin, guitar, ukulele, accordion, keyboard, bass and singers. We are excited to welcome them to Birmingham for Refugee Week.

Dates and times