Contemporary art United Kingdom

Olympics arts festival promises to be "game-changing" for artists with disabilities

London's Southbank Centre hosts 29 Cultural Olympiad "Unlimited" commissions

Sue Austin, Creating the Spectacle

With 50 days to go to the Paralympic Games (29 August to 9 September), London's Southbank Centre has held a launch event to promote a major festival of art, dance, music and other performance created by deaf and disabled artists, scheduled to coincide with the games.

"Unlimited: the Revelation Starts Here" will open to the public on 30 August (until 9 September) and includes 29 major new commissions programmed at a cost of £3m by the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad (mainly funded by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor), alongside a host of other events, talks and performances.

Many of the commissions—which include a major new work by the Candoco Dance Company featuring performers from China, the UK, and Brazil (the previous, current and future Olympic nations)—have premiered in other parts of the UK as part of the London 2012 Festival: the Southbank festival is a chance for visitors and Londoners to see all the commissions in a packed, 11-day period.

Other events include performances by conductor Charles Hazlewood's British Paraorchestra and artist Bobby Baker's Mad Gyms and Kitchens as well as an exhibition of her "Diary Drawings—Mental Illness and Me". "Creating the Spectacle!" by artist Sue Austin documents amazing performances, underwater in a wheelchair (stills have been used as the promotional image for the festival).

Speaking at the launch, Jude Kelly, the Southbank Centre’s artistic director, described the festival as "game-changing" and said that, with the help of the British Council and other partners, the aim was to influence other nations' attitudes to deaf and disabled artists, as well as bring the artists to a British public.

She described the season as "the most significant piece of work in the Cultural Olympiad build up: in the same way that the Paralympics changed the understanding of what the human body is capable of, 'Unlimited' wants to show the talent, and the effort and the perseverance required to make great works of art". Kelly said the works will be accompanied by a programme of talks and discussions, which will be "rightly, political" and "rightly, challenging".

"Unlimited: the Revelation Starts Here", 30 August to 9 September, www.southbankcentre.co.uk/unlimited

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Comments

11 Jul 12
18:6 CET

JESSICA DE POMAR, FORT LAUDERDALE

This is an outstanding initiative, and feel happy you spread this news to the art community. The important objective of international events is to promote solidarity and union. www.artandvalues.co.uk

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