DaDaFest International 2022 reaches half-way point

The highly anticipated DaDaFest International Festival 2022 is half-way through already – with just three weeks of its inspiring programme now remaining.

The festival also coincides with two key milestone dates to celebrate the lives of people with disability, both nationally and internationally.

DaDaFest International Festival 2022 celebrates the talents of disabled, Deaf, and neurodivergent artists and performers.

The six-week festival was officially launched at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre in late October and will run through to Saturday 3 December 2022. Venues also supporting the event include Bluecoat, Museum Of Liverpool, and St Helens Library.

A diverse mix of live in-person and online events showcase this year’s theme of a Hybrid programme to ensure the event is accessibly for all.

Online events and events recorded live will be streamed on-demand through DaDaFest channels, they will be available until 18 December to ensure the programme is inclusive and fully accessible for all to participate and enjoy the festival wherever they may be based. Events from earlier in the programme are available now through on-demand.

The dates of this year’s DaDaFest were specifically chosen to coincide with UK Disability History Month 2022 which runs between Wednesday 16 November and Friday 16 December – as well as the opening of the Shielded In The Community exhibition; and programming the Edward Rushton Lecture event to run alongside International Day Of People With Disabilities on Saturday 3 December 2022.

DaDaFest International Festival Executive Producers Joe Strickland and Rachel Rogers commented, “To coincide with UK Disability History Month is a huge opportunity for us at DaDa to celebrate the diverse range of quality artwork created by disabled artists locally, nationally and internationally, and to continue to highlight disability as a social justice issue. Our remaining DaDaFest International 2022 programme does exactly this by presenting the work of local artists, performers, and musicians.

“Through the festival we can offer opportunities to gain an international perspective on disability arts through the Pen Pals project and Edward Rushton Lecture on social justice. Our Hybrid theme for 2022 has played huge part in the event being inclusive and accessible through a mix of in-person and online experiences – something we are very committed to at DaDa.”

Key in-person highlights still to come include Shielded In The Community Exhibition; Amina Atiq; DaDa Ensemble Concert; and the Edward Rushton Lecture.

Shielded In The Community is a disabled-led project led by Liverpool-based artist and disabled writer Mandy Redvers Rowe, opening at Museum Of Liverpool on Wednesday 16 November. It features artistic responses to shielding and lockdown from disabled people in the North West following prompts from professional artists. DaDa has traditionally marked UK Disability History Month in partnership with Museum Of Liverpool through talks, exhibitions, and tours highlighting areas of the museum’s collection related to the city’s disability history. This year, the partnership is marking the special month with this specially commissioned exhibition funded by Liverpool City Council.

The Third House poetry reading by Amina Atiq at the Bluecoat on Wednesday 23 November at 7pm. Amina is a Yemini-Scouse poet, award-winning activist, performance artist and creative practitioner, whose previous work for DaDaFest includes Broken Biscuits. Amina’s photogenic live-performance anthology lives between houses; inherited and existing national anthems; exploring her Arabness of fragmented memories in a dark-tender migration journey from a colonised Aden to 1960s Liverpool port.

The Bluecoat hosts the DaDa Ensemble Concert on Friday 25 November at 6pm. The performance will feature disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent musicians aged from 12 to 25. They include songwriters, drummers, guitarists, pianists and many more creatives who are sure to rock the stage for DaDa.

The Edward Rushton Lecture closes the festival on Saturday 3 December at 1pm, hosted by Museum Of Liverpool to coincide with the International Day of People With Disability. The event is named after the blind poet, activist and abolitionist, Edward Rushton. The lecture will be given by writer and artist Khairani Barokka, with the working title Towards The Bodymind As Un-Colony. Her talk will give new perspectives on disability, and widen knowledge and understanding of the impact of colonialism on disabled communities. It will be live streamed and made available on-demand. The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion featuring North West artists, activists, and creatives.

Jakarta-based Khairani Barokka is editor of Modern Poetry In Translation. Her work has been presented widely internationally and aims to centre disability justice as anti-colonial praxis. She is the author-illustrator of Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis); author of Rope; and co-editor of Stairs And Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (both Nine Arches). Her latest book, Ultimatum Orangutan, is shortlisted for the Barbellion Prize.

The online and digital programme continues with highlights We Ask These Questions Of Everybody and Pen Pals.

We Ask These Questions Of Everybody is presented by Hera, Amble Skuse, and Toria Banks – it is on demand now until Sunday 18 December. This is an encounter between two women, an audience, and a riotous chorus of disabled voices in a 50-minute digital operatic event sharing disabled people’s experiences under austerity in the UK and performed by an exceptional all-disabled ensemble. It tells the story of Hannah, who needs help. She meets Lynn, who works for the Department of Work and Pensions. An assessment takes place and the story unfolds into a radical opera performance about society.

Pen Pals launches online on Monday 28 November and runs to Sunday 18 December. Funded by the British Council’s International Collaboration grants, it is a cross-cultural and cross-art form project bringing together disabled artists associated with three international disability arts festivals in Liverpool, Indonesia, and Nigeria. It offers opportunities for artists to share their work and practice with others and to find out more about how artists in different locations navigate creating work as disabled artists. Disabled UK artists Deborah Ajia from London, Helen Hall from Belfast, and Shaun Fallows from Wigan will join three artists from both Nigeria and Indonesia in a long-term correspondence project which aims to break down barriers, develop understanding, and lead to developing long-term connections.

DaDa Chair Sally Davies added, “Both UK Disability History Month and International Day Of People With Disabilities are opportunities for DaDa to highlight the fact that society continues to disable people. By supporting artists and providing a platform for this necessary work we stand with Deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent artists across the UK and beyond and will continue to challenge discriminatory behaviours and attitudes.”

Founded in 1984, DaDa develops and presents excellent disability and Deaf arts through a multi-art form artistic programme that includes high quality festivals, interventions and events, fed into by a year-round programme of engagement work with developing and established artists, young disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent people, their families, and the wider community.

The first DaDaFest International was presented by DaDa in 2001 as a platform to showcase the work of disabled, Deaf, and neurodivergent artists.

DaDaFest International Festival 2022 programme features the work of three DaDa Fellows who have received creative bursaries from DaDa to enhance their creative practice, build confidence, and develop skills to drive change for disabled people in the arts and our communities. Fellows represented are Kadisha Kayani, Rhiannon May, and Amina Atiq. This follows the Summer presentation of work in June by Fellow Letty McHugh.

The festival programme features national collaborations including joint commissions, programme sharing and organisational development covering both disabled and non-disabled artists, and local partnerships working collaboratively to increase artistic excellence, support local established and emerging artists.

Previous festival participants have included actor and comedian Liz Carr, comedians Laurence Clark and Francesca Martinez, band Amadou & Mariam, and musician Dame Evelyn Glennie.

DaDaFest International Festival 2022 operates a ‘pay what you decide’ pricing with tickets for individual events ranging from a suggested £10 general admission to £8 concessions, £5 half price, and free.

There are also week tickets costing a suggested £20 general admission/£16 concessions/£10 half price/free, and festival passes which give access to events across the entire six weeks and which cost a suggested £40/£32/£20/free.

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