Disabled and Deaf Artists Unveiled For London 2012 Paralympics

It’s just a week to go until the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, The London 2012 Festival presents a ground-breaking series of commissions by disabled and deaf artists in the Unlimited programme. Originally initiated as part of the Cultural Olympiad, the programme represents the largest ever series of commissions to disabled and deaf artists and celebrates their work on an unprecedented scale across the UK.
The Paralympic Games has grown from its inception as a wheelchair archery competition at a hospital for British World War II veterans in 1948 to become one of the largest international sporting events held today. In the same vein, The Unlimited season is the UK’s largest programme of its kind, with 29 diverse commissions presented across the UK ranging in art form, including dance, visual arts, music, comedy, circus and theatre. To coincide with the London 2012 Paralympic Games, all 29 commissions will be brought together in London at Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival (30 August – 9 September).
The Unlimited programme has encouraged collaborations and partnerships between disability arts organisations, disabled and deaf artists, producers, and mainstream organisations to celebrate the inspiration of the ParalympicGames, and to produce original and exciting work that breaks down barriers.
The programme features 200 artists, including Claire Cunningham, Sue Austin, Garry Robson, Mat Fraser, Marc Brew, Bobby Baker, Candoco Dance Company, David Toole, Caroline Bowditch, Laurence Clark, Simon Allen, Sinéad O’Donnell, Simon McKeown, Janice Parker, Jez Colbourne, Mish Weaver, Paul Cummins, Rachel Gadsden, Kaite O’Reilly Maurice Orr, The Graeae Theatre Company, DASH Arts, Chris Tally Evans, Joel Simon, Helen Petts, Ramesh Meyyapan, and featuring international collaborations with artists from Brazil, China, Australia, South Africa, Japan, Germany and Croatia.
Ruth Mackenzie, Director of London 2012 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad said: “The Unlimited programme is unprecedented, offering more commissioning for disabled and deaf artists than any Cultural Olympiad or festival to date. We are delighted tohave had the opportunity to work with world-class artists who have created brilliant work that will inspire and change perceptions when we welcome theworld to London during the London 2012 Paralympic Games. I hope this will beone of our most important legacies for future Games and for disabled and deaf artists both in the UK and internationally.”
Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, said: “The Paralympics changed sport forever in terms of people’s understanding of the talent of disabled people. Unlimited provides the same platform for Deaf and disabledartists to show the extraordinary talent, range and perseverance necessary to make great work. This is a milestone event for culture not just in the UK but across the world.”

·       The English Flower Garden – Paul Cummins, renowned for his distinctive landscape installations, presents a series of individually hand-thrown ceramic flowers in celebration of the quintessentially British garden (FREE: Castle Howard, York, 1 June – 31 August 2012; Cromwell Green, Houses of Parliament, London, 4 June – 26 August; Blenheim Palace, Oxford, 1 June – 17 September; The Secret Gardens of Sandwhich, Sandwhich and Althorp Estate, Northampton, 11 May – 1 September; Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September)
·       Maurice Orr – The Screaming Silence of the Wind comprises five multi-sensory installations of paintings inspired by the barren, raw landscapes of Northern Ireland and Iceland (FREE: Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart, 6 – 23 August 2012; Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September).
·       Unlimited Global Alchemy led by artist Rachel Gadsden presents a medley of visual arts, live performance and film which explore the politics and myths surrounding coping with chronic disease, particularly HIV and AIDS, and the fight for survival. The exhibition was born out of Gadsden’s work with the Bambani artist-activist group in the Khayelitsha township, on the outskirts of Cape Town in South Africa. (Special film screening, FREE,The Bluecoat, Liverpool, 30 August 2012; Exhibition, FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September). In addition to the filmscreening and exhibition, there will also be an evening of performance, co-directed by Gadsden and choreographer Athina Vahla (Southbank Centre, London 5 September).
·       DASH Arts: M21 – Documenting a live art project that took place in Much Wenlock, Shropshire in May 2012 M21 – The Medieval to the 21st Century documents how disabled artists explore what it means to be alive and working in the 21st century. (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September, 2012)
·       Caroline Bowditch: Leaving Limbo Landing – a major multi-artform performance piece in air, in water and on land featuring the stories of 12 East Londoners, and brought to life by an all female cast of dancers and aerialists (FREE, Southbank Centre, London, 31 August – 9 September 2012)
The London 2012 Festival is the finale of the Cultural Olympiad. Since the Cultural Olympiad started in 2008 over 18 million people all over the UK have already participated in or attended over 9,000 performances and more than 8,000 workshops as part of Cultural Olympiad programmes inspired by London 2012 and funded by our principal funders and sponsors. 
Principal Funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the CulturalOlympiad and the London 2012 Festival.
Supporters of the London 2012 Festival are BMW, Eurostar, Freshfields, King’s College London, Panasonic, Samsung, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council Wales, BBC, British Council, Creative Scotland, DCAL, DCMS, Festivals Edinburgh, Mayor Of London, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Visit Britain and Visit Scotland.
All the London 2012 Festival events can be found at www.london2012.com/festival. Follow us on twitter @London2012Fest