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Editor Colin Hambrook reviews some DAO highlights of 2010 / 1 January 2011

Tanya Raabe drawing at the easel

Lost hula hoop poster © Dolly Sen

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Greetings to all the wonderful disabled artists, performers and writers who have contributed to DAO and made it such a fantastic journal to edit over the past year.

Over the last eight months or so I've been making more of a concerted effort to encourage disabled individuals, companies and projects to use DAO as a place to blog about life, art, access and artistic practice. It's been a rewarding experience and so (in no particular order) I'd like to share some of my highlights of the past year.

In July Sophie Partridge reported on her experience of being part of Rethinking Disability Project Focus Group at Shape. She gives a lively account of reflections on images of disabled people from the Royal College of Physicians’ archive. The group was a preliminary adjunct to an exciting exhibition interpreting the context of image-making and attitudes towards disabled people to be shown in Shape's offices (and hopefully other venues) in 2011.

I also greatly enjoyed Anne Teahan's account of taking part in Revealing Culture - an international disability arts exhibition of 55 artists, which was shown at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington last summer. She gives an insightful account of her trip, and reflections on disability and impairment.

DaDaFest 2010 in Liverpool proved to produce a major high point on the the disability arts calendar this year. In her December blog Tanya Raabe gave an excited report on the part her talented brush and eye played in revealing disability arts culture to a wider audience on the BBC's Culture Show.

I can think of a few theatre companies that are tackling inclusion in a dynamic and ground-breaking ways. Over the Xmas break I saw the ever stunning deaf actress Caroline Parker in Red Earth's children's production of The Lost Happy Endings adapted from the book by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. This fun production was energised by the use of BSL by the cast of four who brought it to life.

Improbable Theatre are also developing a track record for inclusive theatre. No Idea was a highly engaging piece of devised theatre by Lisa Hammond and Rachael Spense reviewed by Kate Cotton

Ian Dury cropped up several times in 2010. There was a memorable biopic starring Andy Serkis reviewed by Alison Wilde.

Fittings Multimedia blogged about their tour of Raspberry - a production that brought Ian Dury to life as a narrator in a surreal story line that evoked disability struggles. The show was much admired by Colin Cameron

Finally, John Kelly aka Rockinpaddy had a hilarious punky part to play as lead singer in Graeae's production of Reasons to be Cheerful at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East. In Rockinpaddy's blog he talked about getting and feeling his way through taking on the part in what proved an affectionate, entertaining celebration of Ian Dury's music.

Dolly Sen has been making lively contributions to DAOs pages for nearly three years. She added a gallery of artworks last summer. Did she ever find that missing hula hoop I wonder?

Victoria Wright had a few outings on tv and radio in 2010. As well as having (in my opinion) the best role in Channel 4s award-winning comedy Cast-Offs, she also supplied DAO with an open letter to mainstream comedian Frankie Boyle after his incessant attacks on learning disabled people.

This discussion piece provoked some interesting comments about humour and discrimination. There are no easy solutions. Attacking disabled people for the way we look, sound, are stereotypically expected to behave etc. still largely goes unchallenged. Except for the first time complaints to Ofcom were registered.

Thanks to everyone for supporting DAO in 2010. We look forward to more in-depth focus on you, your talents and our community in 2011.

Keywords: disability art,performing arts,the culture show,theatre,visual arts


Penny Pepper

2 January 2011

Happy New Year Colin and to all DAO readers. It's been a varied and sometimes tumultuous 2010 for many of us I feel. DadaFest was certainly a highlight for me, including being nominated for an award - a huge surprise!

I want to say thanks for being the heart of DAO and keeping the light burning Col. I hear so often that our arts community IS still there, it is vibrant and (fairly!) unified, while the rights movement has struggled to keep its identity.

Hurray for DAO!

And now I'd better get on with my blog!