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> > Colin Hambrook

Colin Hambrook established Disability Arts Online in 2004. Since then he has been editing and maintaining the journal and its social media outlets. In his blog he comments on aspects of stuff going in within Disability Arts and the specific arts programmes Dao is engaged with.. as well being known to vent the occasional rant.

Vital Xposure produce one of their best productions yet with 'Let Me Stay', which has just received Unlimited funding

4 April 2014

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Julie McNamara on stage sitting on a chair within a white circular piece of flooring. She turns to face a large projection of her mum, Shirley, against a backdrop of large cardboard boxes

I am delighted that Julie McNamara and her company Vital Xposure have received an Unlimited award for Let Me Stay. I’ve known Julie a long time now – through thick and thin you might say. And I know her well enough to say that she puts everything into whatever she turns her attention to. Let Me Stay is a treat. I saw Julie perform Let Me Stay in a makeshift theatre space – the sort of space that proves that you can make theatre anywhere, if you are good...

Comments: 1

Trish invites you to fill in our Dao readers survey…

8 April 2014

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Hand written multicoloured text reads: News Listings Reviews Blogs Interviews Galleries

This is the third consecutive year that we’re asking you to take part in our annual reader survey. It is absolutely crucial to our role in the arts to remain vibrant and interesting:  This is your chance to tell us what you like about Dao and how you would change or improve on our website, social media interaction and our activities out in the ‘real world’.  By giving us this valuable feedback we can make changes so that everyone gets a better service. Last year...

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From the archive: the impressive asymmetry of Mark Ware's digital imagery

11 May 2014

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digital image of a mummified figure at the centre of a tree-like series of branches

I intended at the beginning of the year to celebrate Dao's tenth year by writing a monthly blog reviewing key works  that have helped to shape what the journal is and who it is for. Earlier in the year I looked back at Peter Street’s war poetry, published in December 2006, which has left an indelible imprint on my consciousness. Back in 2004, I was running the site from a computer in the Mind offices in Lewes, kindly offered by the Director, Paddy Mobbs. I can't remember how...

Comments: 1

From the archive: Gini visits the Sky Tree in Tokyo

21 May 2014

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Photo of Sky Tree against a blue sky with drifts of white cloud looking up at the first viewing platforms. The highest platform is just visible as a dot at the top of the photo. The open metal structure is coated in Sky Tree White.

I’ve been going through Dao’s archive in the last few editorials. My intention is to continue highlighting a few favourite articles from a decade of Dao. In last weeks newsletter I asked what pieces of content you, dear Dao reader would like me to highlight? Richard Downes came back with a comment expressing how much he enjoyed Gini's exploration of Japan and technology, during her trip to Tokyo in September 2013. He says: “I liked the way she presented her diary and...

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A question of life and death raised by the Art and the End of Life Symposium held as part of Brighton Fringe Festival

23 May 2014

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Over the last few years, especially since the failure of the amendment to legislation around the issue of assisted suicide in 2012, there has been a flurry of theatre work taking a positive stance on assisted suicide.  This year Brighton Fringe Festival hosted Sparkle and Dark’s Killing Roger - a well-executed, if predictable polemical theatre piece about the failures of the care system and the decision of an elderly man to inspire help in having reached a conclusion that he’d...

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Dao: putting the disability back into disability arts

5 June 2014

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DAiSY Fest 2014 - held in the cavernous GLive arts centre in Guildford, yesterday, left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling. And I guess at the end of the day, there’s no greater thing that the Arts can bring into your life than a sense of belonging; a sense that you have a recognised place in the world. And so a big thanks to DAiSY for inviting Dao to come and put an event on. With the calibre of performance from Allan Sutherland and Penny Pepper there was no doubt in my mind that it was going...

Comments: 5

Congratulations to Mat Fraser for the recent award given to Cabinet Of Curiosities: but isn’t Disability being firmly put back in a box?

16 June 2014

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photo of performing artist Mat Fraser standing in front of a series of shelves containing prosthetic limbs

It was good to hear that Mat Fraser has won the Arts and Culture Award category in the Observer Ethical Awards 2014 for his show Cabinet of Curiosities: How Disability was kept in a Box. I interviewed Mat before the show went on tour and was wowed by his performance in the Science Museum earlier this year. For me it was akin to the kinds of cabaret performance we, in the disability arts movement, were lucky to see Mat do 20 years ago: Mat, angry, proud, projecting a cynical humour advocating...

Comments: 2

Together! Pop-up Poetry Cafe in Newham host a Dao poets event

23 August 2014

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drawing of a bald head with lots of rooms pictured inside the skull

I’ve been working hard behind the scenes developing Dao’s performance poetry presence, applying to produce our own gigs and recommending Dao poets to other producers. We did a gig last May at DAiSy Fest with Allan Sutherland and Penny Pepper. I'd like to extend a big thank you to the Together! Pop-up Poetry cafe at the amazing House Mill, on Three Mills Island, for hosting myself, Wendy Young and Bonk for an evening of poetry performance. We performed in the cafe to 30-40...

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In Memoriam: For Dao Poet Richard Longstaff

15 September 2014

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photo of a bright red / orange butterfly with thick black lines and white circular spots delineating areas across its wings

On Saturday 6 September Richard Longstaff’s wife Rachel rang to say that he had passed away, peacefully with his family beside him. Richard first told me the devastating news of the cancer at the beginning of last June. And it was soon evident that it was terminal. The last time we spoke was just over four weeks ago. He hoped to write some more for Dao, but the pain and exhaustion from the illness had made it impossible.  My sincerest condolences go out to Rachel and to their...

Comments: 4

Should disability arts reflect society?

30 September 2014

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black and white photo of French poet and theatre innovator Antonin Artaud

I very much see Dao as a bridge between the aspirations of the Disability Rights based, Disability Arts Movement of old and the current, confused notion of disability arts, which draws largely from the inclusion agenda, and seeks to encourage disabled artists to work professionally within the Arts. Back in 1989 Allan Sutherland wrote an essay for DAIL Magazine ‘Disability Arts, Disability Politics’. He said “I don’t think disability arts would have been possible without...

Comments: 4

Mad Genius?

7 October 2014

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painting of a young man with long flowing hair, bare chested, holds a stringed instrument in his left hand, while looking way to the left with a soulful expression

The Basement in Brighton who produce the SICK! Festival are putting on a series of events, debates, forums and performance to mark World Mental Health Day. I've been asked to be part of a panel discussion on the concept of the Mad Genius, so I thought I'd post a precis of what's been going through my mind. The dictionary definition of ‘genius’ is “an exceptional natural capacity of intellect, especially as shown in creative and original work in science, art,...

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To define or not to define: the dirty 'disability' word

27 October 2014

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photo of three images of the artist throwing an artificial leg at a pyramid of collecting cans

A stimulating discussion unfolded on Dao’s FB group last week in response to the Shape Open Exhibition, which was launched at Shape’s Gallery in Westfield Shopping Centre, Stratford last week. The call-out for Shape’s annual Open Exhibition was for the third year opened out to disabled and to non-disabled artists specifically asking for work on the theme of [in]visible. The question posed was whether Shape should be supporting work by artists who didn’t necessarily see...

Comments: 7

Disability Arts versus Pudsey Bear

17 November 2014

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photo of a packet of Pudsey Bear sweets, sold on a train as part of a BBC marketing campaign

I often ask myself what is the point of Disability Arts? Every board meeting we have discussions about how we are swimming against a tide in our desire to raise the stakes for equality for disabled people. The attitudes that keep us in chains abound everywhere we look and our small attempts to challenge collectively are consistently ignored. Just last week we suffered the BBC’s annual celebration of everything Tragic but Brave in which Pudsey Bear struts his stuff to let the world know...

Comments: 4

Figures: A new project to make visible the human cost of austerity

28 November 2014

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a photo of a series of crude figures made of clay

Roaring Girl Productions and artist-activist Liz Crow are launching a new project. Figures is a mass-sculptural performance that is setting out to make visible the stark human cost of austerity and urge action against it. The intention behind the project is to build strong emotional connections with difficult facts in order to encourage deep public questioning and debate that will continue long after the work is over. Over a period of 12 consecutive days and nights, on the foreshore of the...

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Some reflections on DaDaFest International Congress 2014

10 December 2014

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photo of Krip Hop writer and performer Leroy Moore

Firstly, many thanks to Ruth Gould and her brilliant team at DaDaFest in Liverpool for inviting Dao to be a part of what must be one of the most important International Festivals of Disability Arts in the world. It was a powerful feeling to be part of a Congress of disabled artists from different parts of the globe coming together to share work, process, experience and ideas. In the UK our sense of being part of a disability arts community has been fairly battered over the last decade or so...

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Looking back: 2014 has been a mix of triumph and devastation for Disability Arts

18 December 2014

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hip hop artist Ronnie Ronnie wears a red and black costume

Firstly I’d like to extend my condolences to Richard Longstaff’s family at this time. His loss last summer, as a result of cancer was a big blow to me personally. I could see a book of poetic reminiscences of growing up in a rural Northern village emerging from his poetry blog. It was a joy to work with him and he is sorely missed. 2014 has been an eventful year for us here at Disability Arts Online. There have been lots of highlights but I’ve been particularly pleased about...

Comments: 5

Happy New Year: we've got a fight on our hands!

5 January 2015

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A young person in a self propelled wheelchair is holding up a banner that reads 'Stop blaming us ya bastards!'. She is saying:

We know we’ve got a fight to survive in the year ahead. Many of our artists, dependent on the Independent Living Fund are under attack. We need to come together creatively and positively to challenge the threat we are under from measures designed by people in power who basically don’t seem to have little clue about the real world. The letter I received personally from my own MP to complain about the closure of the ILF said:  “...Ministers have considered the implications...

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Highlights of 2014: with thanks to DaisyFest, Together, Unlimited and DaDaFest

10 January 2015

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purple tinted drawing inspired by a surreal character from the Bosch painting 'The temptation of St Anthony’

Firstly I’d like to wish a Happy New Year to all Dao’s readers and contributors. Last year we got out and about a fair bit, spreading the word about the disabled artists who engage with the disability arts sector through being a part of events, over and above the usual work we do of reporting on events and supporting artists through networking. Firstly last June there was DaisyFest in Guildford, which featured two of Dao’s writers Penny Pepper and Allan Sutherland. Both...

Comments: 0

Dao's FB group debate Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Stephen Hawking in 'The Theory of Everything'

19 January 2015

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There was a lot in the media last week, centred on Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Dr Stephen Hawking in 'The Theory of Everything'. Newsnight covered it with an interview with the US disabled actor RJ Mitte - star of 'Breaking Bad'.  Frances Ryan's critical response to news of a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for Redmayne on the Guardian’s comment is free pages was to say: “while ‘blacking up’ is rightly now greeted...

Comments: 17

Apologies...

20 February 2015

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Dear readers, firstly I’d like to apologise to all those individuals who have been communicating with me over the past few months, who I have promised interviews, reviews, listings etc. but have been frustrated by my lack of communication.  It has been a stressful time as my father is fast approaching his dying. I am currently overwhelmed by attending to his needs with the rest of my family. Indeed for all of us who are close to him the acceleration of his passing has been sudden and...

Comments: 1

There aint ‘alf been some awkward bastards

16 March 2015

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the word 'anarkissed' written in a scrawling, heavy black and white hand across a white gallery wall

Having entered a decade akin to the Victorian age with an increasing rise in importance placed on benevolence and charity we have to ask ourselves is there a place, now, for Art Movements that seek to address social justice and inequity within society? Or do we rather want to throw in the towel; see it all as worthy nonsense and let the White Men in their ivory towers carry on business as usual putting the mundane and populist at the top of the charts. Has Disability Arts or Black Arts or...

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Disability Arts is dead! Long live Disability Arts...

26 April 2015

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In a recent Guardian blog theatre critic Lyn Gardner quotes the late Chinese Communist leader, Mao Zedong: “Works of art which lack artistic quality have no force, no matter how progressive they are politically.” Gardner goes on to talk about ‘quality’ in relation to Disability Arts, specifically Learning Disability Arts and the Creative Minds conference, which took place in Bradford recently. Posted on the Dao FB group. It provoked a fair bit of response from a few...

Comments: 1

Defend disabled people's right to independent living

3 June 2015

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The Government's plans to do away with the Independent Living Fund (ILF) on 30th June are going to have an immense impact on many individuals Dao works with either directly or indirectly. The ILF helps over 18,000 disabled people with high support needs to live independent lives in the community rather than in residential care. The fund was introduced in 1988 as the Conservative party at that time realised that supporting disabled people with personal care needs to live independent lives,...

Comments: 1

Dao 2015 Reader Survey

9 June 2015

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dao logo, consisting of a square within a green circle with the letters 'Dao'

 We are looking for responses to our 2015 Reader Survey to get Your valuable feedback is absolutely vital for future development of the organisations and to help us to secure funding for future projects.  This year we are doing something a bit different. The questionnaire is completely anonymous because we want to gauge the temperature of feeling towards some of the major disability related arts programmes. We're also really excited to hear your thoughts on how we can improve...

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Rowan James’ ‘Easy For You To Say’

9 June 2015

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An image of the torso of a man sporting a variety of labels such as 'average', 'awkward',  'dribbler', 'overcome'. He wears a stethoscope attached to his chest

We are pleased to be supporting Rowan James’ bid to raise £1500 to complete his debut Edinburgh Fringe run this year as part of the iF (Integrated Fringe) Platform.  Rowan and his team are seeking support to pay for their accommodation and food during their stay, plus production and technical support to make the show as professional and polished as it can be. Please click here to check out the campaign page and rewards and donate whatever you can to the future of performance...

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