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Arts House Announces REFUGE 2021

The event will bring together artists, emergency experts, scientists, deep thinkers and local communities to collaborate and prepare for climate change crises.

Refuge 2021 by Arts House will bring together artists, emergency experts, scientists, deep thinkers and local communities to collaborate and prepare for multiple crises and climate emergency scenarios.
Each year, Refuge has partnered with Red Cross, Emergency Management Victoria and SES to consider new approaches and broad community perspectives on emergencies.
This year's program features 13 projects, including an interactive game about disasters, an audio pilgrimage from Altona to Flagstaff Gardens, an essay and audio work into Melbourne's waterways and the launch of Black Wattle, a publication about connections to place through lockdown.
Refuge 2021 will run for four weeks from Wednesday 21 April to Saturday 16 May.
Emily Sexton, Arts House Artistic Director, said that this year Refuge has shifted from the hypothetical into a reality.
"Our program is no longer something to imagine in the future. It's here and we're all dealing with it right now," Sexton said.
"Throughout last year's bushfires, the current pandemic and recent floods, it's clear that government authorities, the emergency management sector and local community leaders must work closely together. Communities must be fully engaged and central to the planning and delivery of possible crisis solutions."
Refuge 2021 will prepare for concurrent multi-crises. It will consider how artists and creativity can adapt current systems, structures and processes to cope with overlapping emergencies as well as advocate for a more equitable future.
City of Melbourne Creative Melbourne Portfolio Lead, Councillor Cr Jamal Hakim, said the Refuge program has created a cultural change over the course of six years.
"Refuge brings artists and emergency service providers together to find creative ways to enhance emergency procedures through a suite of events and artist-led ideas," Cr Hakim said.
"Our communities have been able to grown stronger and become more resilient by taking part in this collaborative process and planning for a crisis together.
"The program helps people to be more engaged, have greater awareness and be better prepared for potential crises in their local area."
The emergency management partners actively participate in the planning and delivery of Refuge and have reviewed and adapted their approaches to crisis management situations and procedures as a result of the program.
"Shifting the perception beyond hierarchy and bureaucracy, Refuge is greater than a one-stop policy model, quick facts and hard data. It is focussed on brokering connections that broaden a shared understanding and awareness as well as resources," Emily Sexton said.
"Through active participation in creativity and arts practice, we've found that our local communities are more engaged to create stronger social cohesion, improve their overall health and wellbeing as well as enable a deeper shared purpose while they consider solutions together."
Past Refuge climate crisis scenarios have included floods (2016), heatwaves (2017), pandemic (2018) and displacement (2019) as well as a digital talks series during the 2020 lockdown period.
Refuge runs from 21 April - 16 May 2021 featuring thirteen projects:
Learn more at artshouse.com.au.

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