This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

> > Opinion

disability arts online

Tim Jeeves: A portrait of a young man as the (disabled) artist

Tim Jeeves questions the label disability artist in the light of his current work.

Pauline Alexander: the Many Faces of Discrimination

Pauline Alexander tells Colin Hambrook her story of turning direct experience of employment discrimination into Art

Joe McConnell: Beyond Compliance
DAO looks at the wide gap that separates self-declared accessible websites from websites which are genuinely trying to offer disabled people a comparable experience to that of the non-disabled.
Tim Jeeves: On Catharsis
Tim Jeeves explains, in prose, reasons for his performance piece The Last Days of Mourning
North West Disability Arts Forum: TransART
DAO contacted North West Disability Arts Forum NWDAF to find out about an innovative project aiming to open up debate about identity, access and inclusion within contemporary art
Are there enough opportunities to engage disabled people in the Arts?

Umar Akhtar is an event organiser, passionate about stimulating disability arts within the events scene. He explores the relationships of engaging disabled people in the arts from a non-disabled person's perspective.

Alternative Dramaturgies informed by a Deaf and Disability perspective
Making History with a Salon
Melissa Mostyn states the case for a Deaf Arts Salon.
InterAction Milton Keynes: Ways of Seeing
dao presents a podcast covering the Ways of Seeing Conference which took place in Milton Keynes in September 2007
Ju Gosling: Towards a Scientific Model of Disability
Ju Gosling talks about her residency at the National Institute of Medical Research
Maria Kuipers

Colin Hambrook reviews the work of an artist whose work embraces a therapeutic approach.

Disability Arts Moments

DAO asks what are your favourite pieces of work (in any art form) by disabled artists? What do you feel should be preserved for future generations?

DAO and Disability Arts
Colin Hambrook gives an overview of Disability Arts as understood by DAO.
Alternative Dramaturgies informed by a Deaf and Disability perspective

Artist Alicia Grace reviews the second Alternative Dramaturgies symposium.

Holton Lee Disability Arts Open Exhibition
Colin Hambrook reflects on the first open exhibition to embrace Disability Arts and asks how we push the debate for quality to a further level
Minding the Gap

DAO asks Sarah Kennedy about the work of Mind the Gap and a forthcoming conference it is organising around opportunities for learning disabled actors

Tim Jeeves: Singapore Fringe Festival

Tim Jeeves recently came back from Singapore with some thought-provoking questions about cultural interpretations of disability art

What's up with Disability Arts?
Colin Hambrook asks some questions about disability and the role of Disability Arts.
On The Next Level: Labels Seminar

In response to a workshop, as a part of Art Shape's 'Space Between' touring exhibition, Zoe Partington confronts the issue of labels. Who uses them? Who chooses them?

Discussion: Sweet are the uses of Adversity

DAO Editor Colin Hambrook, Artist Aidan Shingler and Arts Council Diversity Officer, Sue Williams discuss the language of the Disability Arts Movement.

Paddy Masefield: Whose Learning Difficulty?
Strength charts a journey through Disability Arts over the past 20 years
Interview: Jo Verrent talks to Rachel Feldberg, Artistic Director of the Ilkley Literature Festival

Rachel Feldberg, Artistic Director of the Ilkley Literature Festival, discusses life, love and disability with Jo Verrent, director of ADA inc.

Mat Fraser: Disability Arts: Good or Bad?
Mat Fraser talks about the support he's had from the Disability Arts world and the need for more constructive criticism.
Close up talk @ Tate Britain

Liz Porter recently experienced an audio-described talk at Tate Britain, focussing on a variety of work in the galleries permanent collection. She reflects on access for visually impaired gallery visitors, looks at the merits of this kind of access provision.

Resource: NanoWrimo, National Novel Writing Month

Have you ever wanted to write a novel? What about writing one in a month? November is the start of NanoWrimo, National Novel Writing Month. John O'Donoghue discusses the initiative and gives five top tips.

Discussion: Pallant House present 'Outside In'

'Outside In' is a programme initiated by Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, dedicated to creating opportunities for marginalised and disabled artists. Colin Hambrook gives a personal take on the issues which underlie the project.

Alan Scott: in memoriam
Alan Scott was a photographer, printmaker, writer and raconteur with a love of philosophy and a wealth of understanding and knowledge. Sadly, Alan died on Thursday 16 October, aged 57 years. Here DAO reproduces a selection of words and images to create
Disability Arts, a monster, a myth
Penny Pepper gives a potted history, swears a lot and asks some vital questions about where the disability arts movement is going
Disability Art and Science: Resonant Frequency

Resonant Frequency was a partnership between ITHACA, Science Oxford (the Oxford Trust) and Disability Arts Online (DAO) which sought to explore the issues around disability arts and science.

Disability and the Novel
Why are contemporary disabled characters and the plots they are involved with so often driven by ‘issues around their disability’ rather than anything else? It wasn’t so for Dickens, Stevenson or Zola, so what has changed?
Tim Jeeves: Disability and Fashion

Tim Jeeves explores why many fashion photographers only see one sort of reality when it comes to the human body

Discussion: Liz Porter reflects on the movement

Liz Porter reflects on what the Disability Arts movement has given her over the years – and where she is now – in response to discussions at the Lead On conference as part of the government funded Cultural Leadership Programme held in Cheltenham Town Hall on 21 September 2009.

Audio: NY Programmer Bill Bragin enjoys Decibel09 and The Fish Police

Audio: Decibel 2009 was a cool mix of Deaf and Disabled and 'traditional' diverse BME performers. Jon Pratty speaks with Bill Bragin, programmer from the Lincoln Centre for Performing Arts in New York. Has mixing audiences and culture strands flattered, or flattened Deaf and Disabled acts at Decibel?

Colin Hambrook attends the launch of the Accentuate programme in the South East

Accentuate was launched on December 3 2009 at the Dome, Brighton, with a sparkle of disability arts excellence from South-East based performers and artists. Colin Hambrook summarises some of the discussion that took place on the day.

Discussion: Art of Difference Festival and Symposium 2009

Colin Hambrook, editor of DAO, attended the Art of Difference Disability and Deaf Arts Festival at the Gasworks, Melbourne from 10-21 March 2009. He also went along to the Momentum09 one-day conference in Auckland on 27 February 2009. Here he compares the differences between the development of Disability Arts in the UK in comparison to developments in the Antipodes.

Discussion: Colin Hambrook discusses Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll - the Ian Dury biopic

"Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll" - the biopic of the life of punk legend Ian Dury opens in London on 8 January 2010. Colin Hambrook discusses the pros and cons of choosing Andy Serkis to play the lead role.

Interview: Tony Heaton discusses Shape's 'Animate' programme

Colin Hambrook talked to Tony Heaton, Chief Executive of Shape about the inspiration behind Shape's 'Animate' programme

Discussion: Victoria Wright addresses comedian Frankie Boyle

Comedian Frankie Boyle has hit the news for making jokes at the expense of learning disabled people during his sell-out tour. Victoria Wright, writer and star of Channel 4s Cast Offs, writes him an open letter.

Mark Ware: Mind Games

Mark Ware has created a play, a film and an exhibition that's influenced by his life after a stroke at the age of 39. Colin Hambrook talked to him about his creative journey.

Discussion: Victoria Wright on language

Victoria Wright featured on Radio 4's 'Word of Mouth' with Francesca Martinez. Here she discusses her relationship with the language used by and about disabled people, and asks questions about the importance of definitions.

Interview with Deborah Williams

Colin Hambrook talked to Deborah Williams about her approach to making theatre and her dreams for her company, Reality Productions.

Discussion: William Phillips on barriers to access for visually impaired people

In the run-up to In Touch with Art 2010 at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in October, DAO publishes some reflections on access to museums and galleries.

Interview: Colin Hambrook talks to Jack Thorne, writer of C4 TV’s Cast Offs

Colin Hambrook talks to Cast Offs co-writer Jack Thorne about a show that promises to be a milestone in television comedy drama. Eagerly awaited, Cast Offs airs at 11pm on Tuesday 24 November.

Discussion: Am I hearing things? Not bloody likely

Film-maker Gary Thomas has acquired another impairment. He talks frankly about invisible disability and identity.

Discussion: Breaking the Code: new approaches to diversity and equality in the arts

Breaking the Code: new approaches to diversity and equality in the arts is an essay by Hassan Mahamdallie from 'Beyond Cultural Diversity: the case for creativity' - a publication compiled and edited by Richard Appignanesi for Third Text

Forest Forge Theatre Company: Peeling

Playwright Kaite O’Reilly discusses Forest Forge Theatre Company’s production of Peeling
, touring Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset from 26 March – 16 April 2011

Discussion: Simon Mckeown's films 'Motion Disabled' and 'All for Claire'

Artistic Director, Garry Robson discusses two films by Simon McKeown he has programmed at subsequent DaDaFest International Festivals

Karen Sheader: Planet of the Blind

Joe McConnell talks to Karen Sheader about the production of her CD, 'Planet of the Blind.'

Interview: Gus Cummins talks about his new work Ictal

Gus Cummins is creating a variety of visual arts and media, inspired by his experience of epilepsy. The work ranges from painting to video and digital installations. Colin Hambrook asked Gus a few questions in preparation for seeing the work at DadaFest

Interview: Jon Pratty talks to Tony Panayiotou about Heart n Soul and Decibel

What does the success of Heart n Soul mean for the rest of us in disability arts? Jon Pratty talks to Tony Panayiotou, Director of Diversity at Arts Council England, at the Heart n Soul MBE celebration party at Deptford Albany.

Colin Hambrook interviews Tanya Raabe about Revealing Culture: Head On

Visual Artist Tanya Raabe is engaged in an exciting new multi-layered project exploring identity and disability culture in contemporary portraiture and the nude. Colin Hambrook interviewed her for DAO.

Interviews: The 5th decibel Performing Arts Showcase

A team of DAO writers went to the 5th decibel Performing Arts Showcase in Manchester from the 12th - 16th September 2011. Here you can read interviews with many of the artists and delegates reflecting on decibel and the Creative Case for Diversity, which was launched at a conference at the beginning of the week.

Interview: Terry Tracy talks about her novel 'A Great Place for a Seizure'

Let's book it blogger Dana Burgess interviews Terry Tracy, author of 'A Great Place for a Seizure', about the advantages of self-publishing a novel which explores disability with an "engaging balance of insight, irreverence and sensitivity."

Phil Lancaster

Colin Hambrook talked to Phil Lancaster about his compelling, computer generated images and his view on Disability Art in general.

Interview: Allan Sutherland talks to film-maker Stephen Dwoskin about his career

Allan Sutherland interviews cult experimental film-maker Stephen Dwoskin during his retrospective at the BFI Southbank, London in May 2009.

Shape Open

Trish Wheatley interviews Ben Fredericks, Shape’s Programme Officer about the up-and-coming Shape Open - a visual arts competition, that asks disabled and non-disabled artists to respond to 'disability'

Interview: Lung Ha’s Theatre Company present ‘Antigone’

This coming March 2012, Scotland’s leading group for performers with learning difficulties, Lung Ha’s Theatre Company, presents a new version of Sophocles‘ ‘Antigone’, the classic story of a young woman standing up against society for what she believes is right. Paul F Cockburn spoke with artistic director Maria Oller and the composer Kenneth Dempster to learn about the show’s origins.

Discussion: Rich Downes talks about the hoo ha around The Undateables

Whilst completely unmoved by C4's The Undateables, Richard Downes, is nonetheless interested in the furore that surrounds it.

Interview: Rich Downes talks to Phil Sherman of Booster Theatre Company

A while back Rich Downes blogged about 'A Christmas Carol' by Phil Sherman of Booster Theatre Company. Phil is putting on a season at the Karamel Club where he will show all his work with pop up books, mime and sign. Rich attended with James Tarpey, a young friend, who is studying drama. He introduced them after the show to discuss their careers. The interview took on flavours of past, present and future.

Interview: Birds of Paradise present The Man Who Lived Twice

The Man Who Lived Twice is a new touring production from Glasgow-based Birds of Paradise theatre company. It's a 'dramatised account' of what took place between disabled playwright Edward Sheldon and actor John Gielgud during a meeting in New York in 1936. In the run-up to the show’s launch at The Arches in Glasgow, before a Scotland-wide tour, Paul F Cockburn spoke with director Alison Peebles.

Discussion: The Joke

Rich Downes has been musing on what makes things funny. He starts off with a bad joke and ends up with a series of interviews with disabled comedians about what makes humour so essential to our lives.

Interview: The Big Lounge Collective produce 'Assisted Suicide: the musical'

The Big Lounge Collective (BLC) was launched at the Young Vic earlier in the year by seven established disabled artists in response to the lack of opportunities and infrastructure for freelance practitioners. DAO editor, Colin Hambrook, had an email exchange with Liz Carr about the BLC’s inaugural piece of work ‘Assisted Suicide: the musical’.

Interview: Tom Marshman's legs give us their perspective on their busy year

Tom Marshman is about to finish a long tour of his latest show, Legs 11, so Marian Cleary caught up with this “boy in tights” and had a chat with his legs to see how they had coped with their hectic schedule over the last year

Interview: Neleswa Mclean-Thorne, from Central School of Speech and Drama, talks about diversity at the Accidental Festival

Each year students at Central demonstrate their ability to seek out talent from new and emerging artists and programme and produce shows for the Accidental Festival which showcases a wide range of performing art and, increasingly, diversity is on their agenda

Interview: Chas de Swiet on the Cultural Olympiad

In the run-up to the plethora of disability arts events happening across the UK this summer, Charlie Swinbourne talks to producer, programmer and artist, Chas de Swiet about his work with Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, Liberty Festival and DaDaFest

Interview: Chas de Swiet on his career, disability arts and the Creative Case

Chas de Swiet has worked in arts management since 2000 and has worked for a number of arts organisations with a specialism in diversity and disability arts. He is also an artist, mainly working with sound and music. In this second instalment of Charlie Swinbourne's interview with him, he talks about his career, his identity as a disabled person, and the creative case.

Interview: Saradha Soobrayen at the Southbank Poetry Parnassus

The Poetry Parnassus at the Southbank Centre, London runs until Sunday 1 July. In the poetic whirl, Nicole Fordham Hodges joins Saradha Soobrayen, who is representing Mauritius, for a conversation about poetry.

Interview: Laurence Clark talks about his Unlimited commission 'Inspired'

Ladies and Gentleman the 'Inspired' Laurence Clark. Richard Downes, meets the comedian on the day of his third preview of Inspired

Interview: Caroline Bowditch talks about her Unlimited commission, 'Leaving Limbo Landing'

An ambitious new outdoors dance piece is 'full of firsts' for the former 'Dance Agent for Change' at Scottish Dance Theatre, Caroline Bowditch. Paul F Cockburn spoke to her during its recent run in Glasgow.

Interview: Kaite O'Reilly and the cast of 'In Water, I’m Weightless' talk about the production

After an acclaimed run in Cardiff, National Theatre Wales and a cast of deaf and disabled performers brings the award-winning Kaite O’Reilly’s 'In Water I’m Weightless' to London as part of the Unlimited festival at the Southbank Centre. But how did such an imaginative, poignant and funny work come together? Paul F Cockburn, dropped in during the final week of rehearsals last July.

Unlimited: Kaite O'Reilly on Deaf and disability arts

Coinciding with the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Jude Kelly, the artistic director of the Southbank Centre, hopes Unlimited Festival will provide ‘breath-taking physical feats to rival the athletes in the Olympic Park.’ Kaite O’Reilly, writer/ director of In Water I'm Weightless, reflects in this context on the trajectory of Deaf (and disability art) production, programming and marketing

Discussion: How do we make the differentiation between what's 'inclusive' and what's 'subversive'?

Obi Chiejina responds to issues arising from a creative writing workshop entitled 'You Say Inclusive, I Say Subversive', led by Kaite O'Reilly as part of the Unlimited Festival at the Southbank Centre

Profile: Katherine Araniello introduces 'Meet The Superhuman: Part 2'

Katherine Araniello introduces her latest art video, 'Meet The Superhuman: Part 2' - a wry commentary on the language of the paralympics.

Opinion: Celf o Gwmpas from mid-Wales meet Kettuki from Finland

Mid-Wales arts organisation Celf o Gwmpas recently took four disabled artists to meet with Kettuki in Hämeenlinna, Finland, as part of a mentoring programme. Chris Tally Evans discusses some broader issues about empowerment that came out of the trip.

Interview: John O'Donoghue talks to Tony Heaton, Shape CEO

John O'Donoghue talks to Tony Heaton, Shape CEO about art, his involvement in Shape, and his views on Unlimited, the recent series of commissions given to disabled artists as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

Interview: Ruth Gould on DaDaFest's 'Outrageous Ambitions'

Susan Bennett talks to Ruth Gould Chief Executive Officer of DaDaFest about the history of the Disability Arts organisation and its plans for survival in times of recession

Interview: Ivan Riches

Ivan Riches was recently commissioned by DAO to make video profiles of two Outside In artists as part of the arts Council funded programme Diverse Perspectives.

Interview: What impact did Unlimited and the Unlimited Festival have on the commissioned artists?

What impact did Unlimited and the Unlimited Festival have on the commissioned artists? Nina Muehlemann has interviewed 10 of the artists for DAO to find out

Interview: Jo Verrent, Luke Pell, Wendy Martin, Tony Heaton and Carole McFadden on the impact of Unlimited

Four months after the ‘Unlimited’ commissions were shown as part of the Cultural Olympiad, how do Jo Verrent, Luke Pell, Wendy Martin, Tony Heaton and Carole McFadden, five of the key ‘movers and shakers’ behind Unlimited, feel about its impact on disability arts? Nina Muehlemann has spoken to them on behalf of DAO to find out.

Interview: Jo Verrent talks in-depth about her involvement with the 2012 ‘Unlimited’ commissions shown as part of the Cultural Olympiad

Following our series of interviews on the legacy of the Unlimited programme of work by disabled artists, which travelled the length and breadth of the UK in 2012, Nina Muehlemann talks to Jo Verrent about her involvement as well as her hopes, fears and expectations for Unlimited

Interview: Luke Pell talks in-depth about his involvement with the 2012 ‘Unlimited’ commissions shown as part of the Cultural Olympiad

Following our series of interviews on the legacy of the Unlimited programme of work by disabled artists, which travelled the length and breadth of the UK in 2012, Nina Muehlemann talks to Luke Pell about his expectations for the commissions and the festival. She asks him about the next steps in his career after working with Candoco?

Interview: Sue Austin talks about the impact 'Unlimited' has had on her life since her showcase of Creating the Spectacle

Following our series of interviews on the legacy of the showcase of Unlimited commissions by disabled artists at the Southbank Centre as part of London 2012, Nina Muehlemann talks to Sue Austin about her expectations of being a part of Unlimited. What has she achieved with Creating the Spectacle? What are the artists' future plans?

Interview: Wendy Martin speaks about the impact of Unlimited on London's Southbank Centre

What kind of experience was the Unlimited Festival for the Southbank Centre? How will they continue to support disability arts? Nina Muehlemann talks to Wendy Martin, Head of Performance and Dance at London’s Southbank Centre, to find out.

Opinion: Alison Wilde provides in-depth comment on two recent film releases: Song for Marion and Quartet

Themes of impairment and disability are less evident in films about old age, says academic Alison Wilde. Here she examines how their portrayal is used in character development, focusing on two recent releases with a divergent impact.

Interview: Rachel Erickson talks about the launch of Narus Productions

Creative marketing can leave little time for developing artistic skills, yet few can afford to ignore its positive impact. Narus Productions director Rachel Erickson tells Sheila McWattie about how her newly founded company aims to help

Juan delGado: Fluctuation in Time

Juan delGado tells Joe McConnell about an exciting ongoing project which started in Palestine 3 years ago.

Interview: Julie McNamara, Artistic Director of Vital Xposure talks about their touring production The Knitting Circle

Playwright and long-term advocate of positive change in the mental health system Julie McNamara tells Sheila McWattie about her profound experiences of unearthing untold stories of patients and staff from long-stay institutions

Interview: Hassan Mahamdallie on Skinheads, Class Warriors and Dickens

Salisbury Arts Centre played host to the Personal to the Universal Symposium last month. Lynne Blackwood interviewed Hassan Mahamdallie, Senior Diversity Strategy Officer, Arts Council England on the value of diversity within the Arts

Interview: Jo Verrent gives food for thought on the diverse range of projects she is involved with

Salisbury Arts Centre played host to the Personal to the Universal Symposium last month. Lynne Blackwood got to speak to Jo Verrent about diversity and doing something deliciously different every day

Interview: Tricia Howey talks to Kati Francis, Artistic Director of BeautifulMess

BeautifulMess have been running performing arts workshops in Brixton for adults with learning difficulties for a while. Tricia Howey of Narus Productions have been supporting the company in getting Foxfood off the ground. Foxfood is a multi-sensory performance which first took place at Brixton’s Lambeth Accord at the end of May and is part of the ongoing Fox Project, which will include summer workshops inspired by the production.

Discussion: John O'Donoghue gives an overview of the Shape's Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary: The First Four

Set up in 2008 Shape's annual Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary is one of the most significant opportunities for disabled visual artists in the UK, offering an opportunity to engage in a three month residency at a high profile gallery. John O'Donoghue reviews the work of the first four winners of the bursary.

Interview: Tony Heaton discusses Shape's Animate artists' talks

Animate will explore the rich history of Disability Arts, through a programme of talks and workshops. Colin Hambrook talked to Tony Heaton, sculptor and Chief Executive of Shape, about the background to these events to be staged in London.

Interview: Colin Hambrook talks to Anne Teahan about 'Knitting Time'

Knitting Time is an illustrated poetry collection and visual arts exhibition by Colin Hambrook, which reflects on themes of loss and 'psychosis'. Anne Teahan talked to him about the work and found out how his mother used to knit universes…

Interview: Robert Softley talks to Kaite O'Reilly about his performing arts career

Robert Softley's one man show 'If These Spasms Could Speak' is currently showing as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. He talks to Kaite O'Reilly answering 20 questions about life and art.

Interview: Colin Cameron talks about the Affirmative Model of Disability

Salisbury Arts Centre played host to the 'From the Personal to the Universal' symposium back in April. Between presentations, Sophie Partridge asked Disability Studies Lecturer Colin Cameron how academic ideas can play a practical role in disabled peoples' lives

Profile: Natalie Papamichael under the spotlight

Natalie Papamichael’s work is at once inside and outside the academy. She defies easy categorisation, making images that are striking, challenging and disturbing. John O’Donoghue profiles an artist whose work was recently shown at Shape in the City.

Opinion: Rosaleen McDonagh pouts politics as she asks where disability representation in the media is heading?

In an overview of the current state of media representation of disabled women, with emphasis on 'Push Girls' - the latest reality tv disability makeover show on the Sundance Channel, Rosaleen McDonagh asks who has control on how we are seen? 

John O'Donoghue discusses the making of Knitting Time by Colin Hambrook

Knitting Time by Colin Hambrook has just been published by Waterloo Press, part of a project comprising online content and an exhibition at Pallant House in Chichester. Here John  O’Donoghue describes the mentoring process that led to the book’s publication.

Opinion: John O’Donoghue on mentoring poet, Clare Best

We hear a lot these days about ‘mentoring’. But what does a mentor actually do? How do you become one? How do people find the right mentor for them? And – the $64,000 question – are mentors worth it? Here John O’Donoghue recalls mentoring Clare Best in producing her poetry collection 'Excisions'.

Opinion: The Cabinet of Curiosities: How Disability Was Kept in a Box

When the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) at the University of Leicester asked actor and performance artist Mat Fraser to create a show exploring the medical profession's approach to disability by responding to the collections of the Hunterian Museum, the Science Museum, and the Royal College of Physicians he came up with The Cabinet of Curiosities: How Disability Was Kept in a Box. By Colin Hambrook.

Preview: Graeae Theatre stage a new production of The Threepenny Opera

The Threepenny Opera is a precursor to many modern musicals and now The New Wolsey Theatre’s Peter Rowe and Graeae’s Jenny Sealey have joined forces to bring what promises to be an anarchic version of the story to theatres in Nottingham, Ipswich, Birmingham and Leeds. In conversation with Garry Robson who plays JJ Peachum, Colin Hambrook found out more about the new production.

Discussion: Janice Parker Projects presents Glory

Glory sees the return of Janice Parker and Richard Layzell encouraging men, women and children of all ages and abilities and from all walks of life, to collaborate to create a large-scale immersive dance event that celebrates the city’s rich Commonwealth community and Glasgow 2014. Glory runs at the Tramway from 5-10 March 2014. Kim Simpson gives an account of taking part.

Discussion: Robert Softley Gale on Wendy Hoose

The latest production from Glasgow-based Birds of Paradise Theatre Company is the first under its new artistic regime. Paul F Cockburn spoke with co-artistic director Robert Softley Gale about Wendy Hoose.

Profile: Driving Inspiration: teams up disabled artists and Paralympians with disabled and non-disabled young people

Driving Inspiration – originally set up in partnership with Creative Bucks to take Paralympians and disabled artists into schools in Buckinghamshire – has been ongoing since 2009. Kristina Veasey talks about her involvement with the project.

Interview: Simon Fildes talks about his Unlimited research and development award

Acclaimed video-dance artist Simon Fildes is one of the creators benefiting from research and development support as part of Unlimited 2014. He talks to Paul F Cockburn about his plans to develop a short stop-frame animation with 3D printed models, exploring exhaustion; and how this represents the first time he's used himself as a subject for his work

Opinion: Beggar's Show Campaigns To Save The Independent Living Fund

Natasha Lewis plays the role of Lucy Brown in Graeae Theatre Company's touring production of 'The Threepenny Opera'. She comments on the devastating effect on disabled artists… and would be disabled artists, resulting from the closure of The Independent Living Fund

Opinion: Dao Writers on Poetry

Dao is building a collection of essays about poetry and profiles of poets, offering a disability perspective. So far we've published an article by Owen Lowery on a selection of war poets; a profile of George MacKay-Brown by Richard Longstaff, personal explorations of the first three collections of Seamus Heaney by Anthony Hurford, an analysis of Wilfred Owen's anti-war poem 'Disabled' by Emmeline Burdett and a profile of Nazrul, 'The Rebel Poet' by Dejani Chatterjee 


Interview: Claire Cunningham: Guide Gods

Choreographer and performer Claire Cunningham tells Paul F Cockburn how her new work melds movement and words to discuss religious attitudes to disability.

Opinion: Simon Startin gets out of bed to campaign for more disabled actors

Simon Startin is a freelance theatre-maker and activist of some twenty years standing. He talks about his moves to stir the National Theatre and the RSC to take action in supporting the work of disabled creatives.

Interview: Wendy Martin talks about her plans for programming Unlimited 2014 at the Southbank Centre

Unlimited, led by Shape and ArtsAdmin, returns this September for another festival showcase at London’s Southbank Centre. Bella Todd talks to Wendy Martin, Head of Performance and Dance about her expectations for presenting the work of Deaf and disabled artists at the largest arts venue in Europe

Interview: Unlimited 2014: The Flickering Darkness (Revisited) by Juan delGado

Spanish artist Juan delGado and creator of The Flickering Darkness (Revisited) met the film’s editor Colombian filmmaker Juan Soto in a dimly lit room at the Geffrye Museum in East London. A conversation about how the artistic processes were led by their intentions in the making of the film, was transcribed and edited here by Manuel Angel Macia

Interview: Unlimited 2014: Katherine Araniello hosts The Dinner Party Revisited

Sophie Partridge interviews Katherine Araniello about her Unlimited 2014 commission: The Dinner Party. It was just another Wednesday in the life of a Crip Arts Activist; chatty Chihuahuas, parents expected later... they got down to business!

Interview: Unlimited 2014: James Leadbitter aka the vacuum cleaner on Madlove

James Leadbitter aka the vacuum cleaner, received an Unlimited research and development award for Madlove - a project which asks those with and without mental illness to collaborate in designing a ‘safe place to go mad’. John O’Donoghue talks to the artist about his idea to get people to participate in redesigning the asylum.

Interview: Unlimited 2014: Garry Robson on Edmund the Learned Pig

As part of the second Unlimited programme, more audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy the glorious musical adventure featuring an unusual pig. Paul F Cockburn speaks with co-creator Garry Robson.

Interview: Unlimited 2014: Sue Austin talks about 'Creating the Spectacle'

Since the first Unlimited Festival, the life and work of artist Sue Austin has undergone huge transformations. Nina Muehlemann talked with the artist to discuss the success of ‘Creating the Spectacle!’

Interview: Unlimited 2014: Jo Bannon talks about Exposure

Nina Muehlemann met artist Jo Bannon during a networking meeting with other artists and people involved with the second round of Unlimited. She talked to Jo about her Unlimited 2014 commission, ‘Exposure’ over a glass of wine.

Opinion: Unlimited 2014: Katherine Araniello hosts The Dinner Party Revisited

Katherine Araniello first presented The Dinner Party in 2011. A development of that work, The Dinner Party Revisited, has been commissioned for 2014’s Unlimited Festival - a commission that confirms Katherine as one of the most significant Live Artists in the UK. So what does it mean to be a 'Live Artist'? Lois Keidan, Director of the Live Art Development Agency (LADA) explains.


Interview: Unlimited 2014: Aidan Moesby and Pum Dunbar: Fragmenting The Code(x)

Fragmenting The Code(x) is a collaboration between two artists, part of a raft of a Unlimited Research and Development Project. John O’Donoghue talks to Aidan Moesby about the analysis of language at the basis of this site-specific work

Interview: Unlimited 2014: Owen Lowery: Otherwise Unchanged

Owen Lowery is the author of a volume of poetry, Otherwise Unchanged (Carcanet 2012), and is the recipient of an Unlimited award. John O’Donoghue interviewed the poet by email about the inspiration, form and development of his work providing an insight into his creative identity. What follows is an edited version of this correspondence.

Interview: Unlimited 2014: Ian Johnston: Dancer

Created with the late Adrian Howells, 'Dancer' is a gentle provocation on what it is to be a 'dancer'. Producer Lucy Gaizely answered a few of Dao’s questions about what promises to be a fun and thought-provoking show in the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre on Saturday 6 September.

Unlimited 2014: Chisato Minamimura: Ring the Changes+

Whilst eagerly awaiting the delights of Unlimited Festival next week, Sarah Pickthall attended a recent sharing of work in progress of Chisato Minamimura’s commissioned work Ring the Changes+ at TripSpace Studios in Haggerston - a collaboration produced by digital artist Nick Rothwell and Body>Data >Space.


Interview: Unlimited’s Senior Producer Jo Verrent introduces the commissions programme

On the eve of the Unlimited Festival 2014 at London’s Southbank Centre, Jo Verrent talks to Bella Todd about the commissions programme and delivers some exciting partnership news set to ensure the festival’s legacy reverberates throughout the UK… and beyond.

Interview: Caroline Bowditch on how she came to fall in love with Frida Khalo

On a sunny afternoon at London’s Southbank Centre, Victoria Wright interviews Australian-born, now Scotland-based performer Caroline Bowditch about her show Falling in Love with Frida, shown as part of the Unlimited Festival.

Opinion: To Wheel Or Not To Wheel? Disabled Characters in Theatre & Television

There is still a preponderance for non-disabled actors in theatre and television to 'crip up' for disabled roles. Mik Scarlet looks at the slow emergence of disabled actors within mainstream representation and discusses the question of a disabled actor playing a character who has a different impairment to their own?

DaDaFest International 2014: Art of the Lived Experiment, curated by Aaron Williamson

Conceived by DaDaFest and delivered in partnership with the Bluecoat, Liverpool, 'Art of the Lived Experiment' runs from 8 November 2014 to 11 January 2015 as part of DaDaFest International 2014. Colin Hambrook interviewed curator Aaron Williamson about the exhibition which contains the work of 28 artists from the UK and abroad, and includes sculpture, film, installation, painting, prints and performance works. 

Opinion: Now+Then: 3 Decades of HIV in Merseyside: a participant’s perspective

Now+Then is a documentary film that uncovers Merseyside’s journey with HIV from the 1980s to the present day through people’s own stories. Created specifically for the Sahir House exhibition, showing at the Museum of Liverpool Life until 8 February 2015 the film is the culmination of two years work archiving the history of HIV on Merseyside. One of the participants, Cate Jacobs writes about her experience of working with Danny Kilbride, creative director of Thinking Film

Preview: DaDaFest International 2014: Young DaDa Presents…

Michelle Stubbs gives an overview of events happening in the DaDaFest young peoples’ programme at The Bluecoat and the Central Library, Liverpool from 29th – 30th November, including an account of her involvement with the making of a film about the City

Interview: Tony Heaton on the next tranche of Unlimited applications

Colin Hambrook talks to Tony Heaton, CEO of Shape who are lead partners with Artsadmin for the Unlimited programme, with a focus on the kinds of work that Unlimited might attract in the second round of applications, with a deadline set for 2 February 2015. 

Opinion: DaDaFest International 2014: The Big Debate

A highlight of the DaDaFest Congress was the Big Debate. Trish Wheatley responds to the question of recognising how much influence non-disabled people should have in working within the Disability Arts sector

Interview: Gary Thomas: on being an artist

Gary Thomas is a writer, director and artist with 11 short films and 4 screenplays to his name. He’s been blogging on Dao on and off since 2010. His film installation ‘The Dog & The Palace’ won an Inspire Mark from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He shares his successes and aspirations with Dao

Interview: Graeae Theatre tackle a new adaptation of 'Blood Wedding'

Graeae’s Artistic Director Jenny Sealey talks to Paul F Cockburn about her company’s new co-production with Dundee Rep Ensemble and Derby Theatre, setting Lorca's classic Spanish Play in the city.

Interview: Nabil Shaban on Brecht, acting and cripping-up...

Sophie Partridge caught up with Nabil Shaban to pose a few questions to the legendary actor currently playing Judge Azdak in a production of Brecht's 'Caucasian Chalk Circle' playing at the Unicorn Theatre, Southwark.

Opinion: Awkward Bastards: the fraudulent face of ‘Diversity’

Awkward Bastards took over mac birmingham on 12th March, the day Terry Pratchett died and the day the government announced further cuts to disabled peoples’ Access to Work funding. Dao editor Colin Hambrook gives further reflection on the Symposium

Opinion: Trish Wheatley on Critiquing Learning Disability Performance

On Monday 23rd March 2015 Mind the Gap hosted a conference about international learning disability performance. Trish Wheatley was asked to speak on the panel about critiquing learning disability performance – the ‘Quality’ debate. The extended version is published here. 

Opinion: Assisted Suicide in the Theatre: Kill Me Now!

Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, London have recently had a five week run of Kill Me Now - a black comedy by Canadian playwright Brad Fraser with director Braham Murray; and starring Greg Wise as Jake, a long-suffering father and Oliver Gomm as Joey, a young man living with cerebral palsy. In response Colin Hambrook asks whether the debate about assisted suicide is part of a much darker expression of the desire for power over other’s lives and deaths.

Interview: Liz Crow on Figures

Artist/activist Liz Crow talks to Trish Wheatley about her current project Figures, the mass-sculptural performance that makes visible the human cost of austerity and urges action against it.



Opinion: Crips mean cash: disability as a commodity

The media has caught on to the idea that ‘worthiness’ sells. As a result disabled people have been more prominent on tv and within the arts, yet as a group we have been getting a rawer deal since the 2012 Paralympics says, tv producer/ director Richard Butchins.

Promo: Amanda Lukoff: The R-Word

Film-maker Amanda Lukoff is a triplet, one of three girls. Their older sister Gabrielle was born with Down’s Syndrome. It was the experience of people’s reaction to her sister that made her want to advocate for Gabrielle. Here she shows a trailer for a documentary she is currently fundraising for: a film about the power of words and the love between siblings.

Interview: Claire Cunningham on Give Me A Reason To Live

Choreographer and performer Claire Cunningham talks to Colin Hambrook about her new solo performance ‘Give Me  A Reason To Live’. Exploring religious art, and the questions it raises about impaired bodies and quality of life, the work takes the form of a series of tests of body and of faith. Stripped down the work is a study in the notion of empathy.

The Sound of Disability

As part of an Arts Council funded programme of work, Dao is engaging with freelance writers to commission opinion pieces and interviews, instigating wider debate about music and disabled musicians that creates a greater understanding of where music sits with disability arts. As part of this programme of work Dao has commissioned a young disabled composer Lloyd Coleman to produce a piece of music for the British Paraorchestra 

Interview: Penny Pepper talks about her experience of working with The Literary Consultancy

The Literary Consultancy, (TLC) founded in 1996 by its Director Rebecca Swift and Hannah Griffiths, offers a service in assessing writers’ manuscripts to give advice on how to approach publishers and agents. Colin Hambrook interviews Penny Pepper about her experience with TLC in time for their ‘Quality Writing for All’ campaign launching on 16th June at The Free Word Centre in London. 

Discussion: ‘Dance and Normality’ Integrart Symposium 2015

The Dance and Normality symposium held at the Musee d’ethonographie, Geneva on 2nd June saw an international line-up of speakers and performers hosted by IntegrART. Trish Wheatley responds to the international picture for the theory and practice of dance and normality, presented on the day. 

Discussion: Pulse Festival: the uses of BSL and Audio Description in Theatre

As part of the Ramps on the Moon event at New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich on 5 June, delegates had the opportunity to sit in on an open rehearsal of Jeni Draper’s Fingersmith’s latest show ‘War Crimes for the Home’ and Sue MacLaine’s ‘Can I Start Again Please.’ Liz Porter responds to the uses of British Sign language and Audio Description in theatre.

Interview: Richard Butchins talks about his Unlimited R&D piece: '213 Things About Me'

Award winning documentary maker and disabled writer Richard Butchins’ first video work '213 Things About Me' is due to be exhibited in Edinburgh as part of an Unlimited showcase by leading disabled artists at Summerhall. Colin Hambrook talked to him about the making of the work.

Discussion: Accessible Edinburgh Fringe?

Every August the world’s performers and entertainers flock to Scotland’s capital. Paul F Cockburn asks just how easy is it for disabled artists and audiences to get the most out of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Trish Wheatley on 'Shaping a Diverse Future'

As part of an Arts Council Catalyst funded programme arts professionals working in UK were invited to The Point, Eastleigh on July 10th 2015, to discuss through provocation, debate and performance 'Shaping a Diverse Future'. Here is director of Disability Arts Online Trish Wheatley's provocation on the future of the Arts.

Interview: British Council Showcase at Edinburgh Festival

The British Council Theatre and Dance team are currently busy working on their tenth showcase since 1997 at the Edinburgh Festival. Colin Hambrook spoke to Neil Webb, Director of Theatre and Dance about the outcomes British Council are hoping for as a result of the showcase and the broader spectrum of their disability arts work across the globe 

Opinion: Edinburgh Festival: 'iF Not Now When?'

Forest Fringe at the Drill Hall played host on 25 August to a day of lively and vibrant discussion: 'iF Not Now When?' produced by Stopgap and hosted by Jo Verrent, Senior Producer of Unlimited. Colin Hambrook reflects on some thoughts from the day's proceedings

Interview: flip Artists: The View From Here

A recent exhibition in Edinburgh’s Gayfield Creative Spaces presented work by nine disabled artists who have recently completed a nine-month programme of mentoring and support from several high profile arts organisations in Scotland. Paul F Cockburn spoke with Robert Softly Gale, director of flip: Disability Equality in the Arts, who coordinated the programme.  

Experimental Art Is Catalyst for Urban Revitalization

DisArt was a multi-venue Disability Arts Festival, which took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan from April 10th to July 31st, 2015. Through several world-renowned exhibits of Disability Arts from all over the world, DisArt Festival 2015 challenged its audiences to reconsider the importance of community, identity, and difference. Report by Alexandra Kadlec

Interview: Film/TV Director Bim Ajadi on his career so far

Award-winning filmmaker Bim Ajadi’s credits include co-directing a film for Channel 4 shown at the London Paralympic Ceremony in 2012. With a media career spanning almost 15 years, Colin Hambrook asked Ajadi about his professional journey so far and his ongoing commitment to nurturing fellow deaf talent, as he prepares to deliver workshops at the BBC’s See Hear Weekend in Bristol.

Interview: Artist Aaron Williamson tells Dao about his new work Demonstrating the World

Over a period of five weeks, Performance artist Aaron Williamson invited visitors to witness the building of an odd set of ‘absurdist’ furniture at the Shape Gallery in Westfield Shopping Centre. The pieces will become key to the performance as it becomes ready to tour later this autumn. Colin Hambrook asked Williamson and Producer Edd Hobbs about what it means to ‘demonstrate the world’.

Interview: A behind the scenes look at Liz Carr’s 'Assisted Suicide the Musical'

Artist and activist Liz Carr has campaigned tirelessly on the issue of assisted suicide. Her first foray into the world of musical theatre, Assisted Suicide the Musical is four years in the making and already in its third incarnation. Joe Turnbull spoke to her about the journey so far. 

Interview: Chloe Phillips explores Audio-Description as a creative tool

Chloe Phillips is an Associate Artist with Taking Flight Theatre, based in Cardiff. Earlier this year she received an Unlimited R&D award to work with the company to produce 'The Importance of Being Described…Earnestly?' - a pilot for a production experimenting with new ideas about audio description. She talks to Colin Hambrook about her motivation and the way the project is shaping up.

Interview: Jess Thom on taking Biscuit Land to the small screen

In partnership with Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) and Arts Council England, BBC Four’s Live From Television Centre will feature a half hour slot from Jess Thom aka Touretteshero. Colin Hambrook caught up with the performer during rehearsals in the BBC studio at Wood Lane. 

Opinion: A Message from Unlimited's Jo Verrent on UN's International Day of Disabled People

3 December is the United Nations' International Day of Disabled People. To mark the occassion, Senior Producer at Unlimited, Jo Verrent writes about the state of play for disabled artists. 

Interview: Words, Pictures, Food and Laundry – a portrait of an artist who refuses categorisation

In the first of our series of peer-to-peer artists' interviews as part of DAO's Viewfinder project, Anne Teahan spoke to Deborah Caulfield, discovering an artist, writer and disability activist who confounds all the usual definitions.

Interview: Fragments, fragility and the voices of the unheard - in conversation with Anne Teahan

In the latest of our Viewfinder peer-to-peer interviews, Deborah Caulfield speaks to artist Anne Teahan about re-discovering her voice in a world so dominated by language.

Interview: Siege Mentality – Kate Lovell talks about Bread & Goose’s latest production

In the latest instalment of the #Viewfinder peer-to-peer interviews, Elinor Rowlands quizzes writer and director Kate Lovell about Siege, her company’s latest project, and disability representation on stage.

Interview: A clear sense of direction – Elinor Rowlands

“When we feel inadequate, it’s because we’re not being heard” – Elinor Rowlands talks to Kate Lovell about ‘coming out’ as a disabled artist in the latest of DAO’s Viewfinder peer-to-peer interviews.

Opinion: Disability: a creative advantage?

Chaired by critic Lyn Gardner, Dao’s editor Colin Hambrook attended a debate at the Arena Theatre, which was part of a series of conversations hosted by the Guardian. A Nation’s Theatre is a joint initiative, from the newspaper and the Battersea Arts Centre highlighting a showcase of innovative theatre made in the regions to be brought to London this summer. 

Interview: Black Kripple Delivers Poetry & Lyrics

With the release of Leroy Moore's new book Black Kripple Delivers Poetry & LyricsRobin Surgeoner spoke to him about the history, issues and smouldering angst that the verbiage within delivers like punches to one's conscience.

Interview: Purposeless Movements – Robert Softley Gale

Birds of Paradise co-Artistic Director Robert Softley Gale talks with Paul F Cockburn about the company's new physical theatre work, Purposeless Movements.

Interview: Amit Sharma – The Solid Life of Sugar Water

Since premiering at 2015’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Solid Life of Sugar Water has picked up rave reviews from national and festival press. Elinor Rowlands caught up with Amit Sharma, the show’s director, ahead of a three week run at the National Theatre in London from 26 February to 19 March 2016. 

Interview: Housni Hassan – the language of dance

From the Power Rangers to Matthew Bourne – Kate Lovell talks to contemporary dancer Housni Hassan aka DJ about the brave new world of stepping out as solo artist.

Interview: Getting Cosy with Kaite O'Reilly

Award-winning playwright Kaite O'Reilly speaks to Joe Turnbull about deaf culture, dissident sensibilities, and her Unlimited-funded "big growling play" Cosy which launches at Wales Millennium Centre on 8 March.

Opinion: I am me, I am here and I am fine – Paul Wilshaw on CONTAINED

Performer Paul Wilshaw reflects on what it has been like baring himself on stage for Mind the Gap's new touring show, CONTAINED, in an illuminating behnd-the-scenes account of this unique production.

Opinion: SICK! Lab 2016: A collaborative exploration of identity and trauma

Dedicated to using the performing arts to explore, broadly, the difficult stuff of life, SICK! Lab  took place at the Contact Theatre, Manchester from 9th-12th March 2016, showcasing performance, discussion and presentations on the tricky themes of identity and trauma. Colin Hambrook gives an overview, taking the temperature of the collaboration

Interview: Noëmi Lakmaier – Cherophobia

Artist Noëmi Lakmaier’s latest piece, Cherophobia takes the form of a 48-hour long live durational performance which will see Lakmaier suspended in mid-air using 20,000 helium balloons as part of the Unlimited Festival in September. Elinor Rowlands speaks to her about the roles of discomfort and control in her work.

Opinion: Disability is not a spectator sport: the importance of art that reflects the experience of disability

Reflecting on Mind the Gap’s latest production, Contained, which tells the personal stories of its performers, Allan Sutherland argues that work which reflects disabled people’s experience of disability is essential to counter non-disabled narratives and assumptions. 

Interview: Why Cameron Morgan Loves Classic TV

Paul F Cockburn speaks with artist Cameron Morgan about his Unlimited-funded exhibition of paintings, TV Classics – Part 1, as part of this year’s Glasgow International.

Interview: Tim Gebbels on starring in Extant’s The Chairs

Kate Lovell talks to actor Tim Gebbels about his role as Old Man in Extant’s re-boot of Eugene Ionesco’s classic Theatre of the Absurd play, The Chairs, which is touring 3 – 26 April 2016.

Interview: Access at Brighton Festival

Year on year Brighton Festival are making progress with small but important steps in improving the festival’s access offer and are gradually diversifying their audiences. Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival’s Theatre Producer Orla Flanagan talks to DAO about some of the festival’s outcomes, spurred, in part by engagement with Unlimited.

Interview: Agnes Fletcher and Georgia Macqueen Black in discussion: being disabled and managing barriers

Agnes Fletcher, an expert in the field of disability equality, law and practice, was a trustee of Shape Arts for 6 years in the 2000s. As part of Shape Arts’ 40th Anniversary celebrations, Agnes spoke to Georgia Macqueen Black about her 25 years of experience on disability issues and her personal connection to the Disability Arts Movement of the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Interview: Bekki Perriman on The Doorways Project

Artist, Bekki Perriman first received Unlimited R&D funding for The  Doorways Project in 2014, which took the form of a photography exhibition. She has since gone on to receive a further Unlimited Commission to expand the work into a site-specific sound installation that will tour to several sites. Joe Turnbull spoke to her about the work and the experiences which shaped it.

Interview: Introducing: Priya Mistry’s Musical Mental Health Cabaret

Using a sophisticated visual language and brutally honest monologue developed by the ‘all-singing-all-dancing-all-mental’ cast and crew, Musical Mental Health Cabaret debuts at Attenborough Arts this June. Alice Holland meets Priya during rehearsal to find out more about the show and Priya’s work developing new techniques and expressions for artists with mental health issues. 

Interview: Silent Faces on Follow Suit

Silent Faces are an emerging integrated company and their physical theatre show Follow Suit has been awarded the iF Bursary at this year’s Brighton Fringe. Stopgap’s Lou Rogers caught up with them as they prepare for the debut performance on 9 May at the Sallis Benney Theatre, following the iF Not Now When? Part 2 event.

Interview: Esther Fox: where art, genetic survival and science intersect

Artist Esther Fox explores genetic screening, disability and the ethical discussions surrounding her right to exist, in Pandora’s Box, her forthcoming sculptural installation in the Science Museum’s ‘Who Am I?’ gallery. She spoke to Anne Teahan about the work.

Interview: Shining a light on Bobby Baker and Daily Life Ltd

Letting in the Light, a light-box exhibition organised by Bobby Baker’s charity Daily Life Ltd, lit up the streets of Stratford during the dark winter months of this year and showcased the work of artists who have experienced mental distress. Elinor Rowlands spoke to her about the impact of the exhibition and the charity’s new project, Roving Diagnostic Unit.