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> > > News: Aylesbury Paralympic Flame Celebration spotlights world class Deaf and disabled arts
image by rachel gadsden of a wheelchair-user athlete

A festival celebrating the 24-hour Paralympic Torch Relay brings the South East’s best artistic talent to the streets of Aylesbury as part of a four-day UK wide event, giving local people a chance to experience the Paralympic Games in a moment of a lifetime.

The free Aylesbury Paralympic Flame Celebration, which takes place on Tuesday 28 August from 10am to 10.30pm, features work from the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, a four-year celebration designed to encourage the widest range of people across the whole of the UK to get involved in the London 2012 Games.

The line-up boasts South East’s internationally and nationally renowned Deaf and disabled artists, plus leading arts organisations including:

  • Award-winning disabled visual artist Rachel Gadsden
  • Artistic Director Ryan Dawson Laight
  • Non-disabled and disabled dance company Candoco Dance Company
  • UK’s leading integrated dance company StopGAP Dance Company
  • Creative pyrotechnics The World Famous, who specialise in large scale fireworks, flames and special effects
  • Acclaimed folk musician Eliza Carthy
  • Internationally acclaimed early music British vocal ensemble I Fagiolini
  • Video artist company Shared Space & Light
  • Milton Keynes-based carnival arts group Festive Road
  • Stoke Mandeville Stadium exhibition and documentary at Stoke Mandeville
  • World premiere of 'Light Up the World', an animation about the Paralympics by 497 young disabled and non-disabled young people from 12 Countries across the globe, as part of the Driving Inspiration programme

The Cultural Olympiad in the South East has been inspired by the history of Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement, and have used this opportunity to support the great wealth of Deaf and disabled artists based in our region through the Cultural Olympiad programme.

With the eyes of the world on Aylesbury and Stoke Mandeville, audiences in Market Square Stage and Kingsbury Music Stage will enjoy a special evening spectacle to mark the moment when the Paralympic Torch travels through Aylesbury town centre moments just after it’s been created at Stoke Mandeville – the start of the relay.

Here are our highlights:
12-5pm – Art & cultural performances – Kingsbury Square

2.30, 4pm - SPUN TV - StopGAP Dance Company: two 30-minute performances of SPUN TV, the new outdoor piece commissioned by the Creative Programmer for London 2012 as part of the Legacy Trust UK’s Accentuate programme.

2, 3.30pm - Brewing Up - Festive Road: What does it take to make a great cup of tea? This award-winning carnival arts project looks for the answer and celebrates the great British tradition that brings us all together, along with a giant kettle which boils and steams, silk flame makers and smoke and bubble machines.

12-5pm – Film screenings – Kingsbury Screen
Stoke Mandeville Stadium exhibition film - throughout the day, screenings of a short documentary on Sir Ludwig Guttmann and Stoke Mandeville and the first ever exhibition to cover the story of the Paralympic Movement, plus Driving Inspiration animations (Flip Book, Hands On, Icarus)

8.05/8.15pm – Welcome Songs – Market Square Stage. Folk artist Eliza Carthy, Robert Hollingworth and his solo-voice ensemble I Fagiolini, and her band
They will lead community choirs in performing four uplifting songs based on English traditional music reworked especially for the London 2012 Games. This is part of London 2012 Festival.

8.35pm – Starting Line - Market Square Stage
International visual artist Rachel Gadsden, Abigail Norris, Ryan Dawson Laight, Freddie Opoku-Addaie, and young disabled dancers from Candoco Dance Company

An exciting dynamic 20-minute collaborative performance featuring dance, Abigail Norris’s film inspired by the Paralympics Games and live painting/drawing from Rachel Gadsden. The performance has been made through a year long outreach programme which has included disabled and non-disabled young people from around the world and spinally-injured young people based at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, choreographed by Freddie Opoku-Addaie.

9.10pm – Paralympic Torch Relay Flame arrival and ‘Flame’ finale from The World Famous and Shared Space and Light - Market Square Stage. ‘Flame’ is collaboration between pyrotechnic wizards The World Famous, and video mapping specialists Shared Space & Light. It combines cutting edge projection techniques and precise pyrotechnic synchronisation with the timeless attraction of fire, to explore the imagery and meaning behind the Paralympic flame.

As part of this exciting London 2012 Paralympic Flame Festival celebration, Stoke Mandeville will host the Stoke Mandeville Stadium exhibition, which tells the story of the Paralympic Movement from 1948 to modern day including Sir Ludwig Guttmann, who revolutionised treatment for those with spinal injuries and his work in Buckinghamshire. The exhibition runs from 29 August to 16 September, at Bowls Centre at Stoke Mandeville. The exhibition is part of the Legacy Trust UK’s Accentuate programme, The Guttmann Legacy.

Following Aylesbury, the Paralympic flame will continue on its historic 24-hour journey to the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games on 29 August 2012 in London. Amongst the torchbearers, 78 are from the South East and include:
· Kristina Veasey, who is an Accentuate Ambassador and whose participatory arts project inspired by Paralympic spirit/Olympic torch Beyond the Torch Run is currently supported with a Grants for the arts award
· Martin McElhatton, CEO of Wheelpower, the British Wheelchair Sports charity which manages Stoke Mandeville Stadium
· Sue Williams, Senior Officer for Diversity at Arts Council England.

There are many other opportunities to get involved with the Paralympic Games and catch the South East’s finest Deaf and disabled artists including: Liberty Festival (1– 3 September), featuring performances and exhibitions from StopGAP Dance Company and Freewheelers Theatre Company; Unlimited Festival (1 September) at South Bank featuring performance, exhibition and talks from Rachel Gadsden’s Unlimited Global Alchemy; and Blue Touch Paper Carnival performance at their own Paralympic Flame celebration in Horsham on 25 August as well as in the Olympic Park during the Games.

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