Bouncing for Joy as ADF unveils NI’s first Disability and Deaf Arts festival

By August 6, 2012Creative Industries, Newsroom

The Arts & Disability Forum (ADF) was full of Bounce! today as it revealed details of Northern Ireland’s first ever disability and deaf arts festival.

Bounce! is an action packed eight day festival presenting new work by disabled artists, featuring a range of top local and international work from visual artists, animators, writers, musicians, performance artists and theatre and dance companies.

“The name of the festival refers to disabled people’s resilience and ability to bounce back but it is also about pleasure, bouncing with joy, and celebrating the talent of disabled artists!” explained ADF Chief Executive Chris Ledger.

The festival takes place in the Cathedral Quarter from August 24th to 31st, coinciding with the arrival of the Paralympic torch in Northern Ireland. It has been funded by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, with co-funding from Belfast City Council. The ADF is core-funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

DCAL Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said it was a great addition to the events centring on the bringing of the Paralympic torch to the north of Ireland.

The Minister said: “This is a superb festival that showcases the remarkable talents of some of the finest disabled artists and performers in these islands and throughout Europe. I hope that people attending the Paralympic torch ceremony will take time to enjoy some of the many shows and exhibitions that it has to offer.”

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Gavin Robinson, said the city was proud to be hosting Northern Ireland’s first disability arts festival.

“The Arts & Disability Forum is to be commended for organising this festival which will shine a light on the work of leading disabled artists and performers. I would encourage the people of Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland to go along and see what Bounce! has to offer,” he added.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: “This August, for the first time, we will celebrate the talents of some of the world’s finest disabled artists and performers at Northern Ireland’s inaugural disability arts festival. This creative showcase offers a wonderfully eclectic mix of local and international arts of the highest quality, with a programme that offers up many cultural treats over eight action-packed days.”

The festival boasts an exciting line up of talented artists and performers.

Highlights include performances by Claire Cunningham and David Hoyle, who are showcasing exciting new works developed through commissions by the Unlimited Cultural Olympiad programme as part of the London 2012 Festival.

Claire will perform the stunning Menage a Trois show devised along with choreographer Gail Sneddon in partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland. The show premieres in Glasgow on August 24 and 25 before moving to Belfast for the Bounce! Festival.

Claire, a disabled dancer and choreographer, who has worked with some of the world’s leading choreographers, uses crutches as an integral part of her mesmerising performance. She was commissioned to perform the new Ménage a Trois show for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

This much anticipated performance at the Mac on 31st August combines animation and projections by Gail Sneddon on stage with Claire, who will be performing live.

David Hoyle, the avant garde cabaret singer, actor, comedian and film director will bring his unique brand of surreal humour to Belfast.

David will star in the Ugly Spirit, a new backstage play by Russell Barr which mixes improvisation and text. Directed by Garry Robson of Fittings Multi Media Arts, the Ugly Spirit showcases both David Hoyle and acclaimed soprano Denise Leigh in a piece focused on the world-famous Siamese twins, the Bellamy Sisters. The piece references Nazi atrocities, Jake and Dino Chapman’s art, and the history of the freak show, amongst other threads. The show takes place at the ADF Gallery in Royal Avenue on August 23 and 24.

“We have performances, exhibitions, talks and workshops by disabled dancers, actors and visual artists. For example, we will be premiering profoundly deaf artist, Andrew Cochrane’s new piece, produced with an Arts & Disability Awards Ireland grant,” said Chris Ledger.

“Andrew works in a variety of media, including drawings, sculptures, photography and video and is well known for his playful, experimental nature with elements of dark humour that reflects on frustrations and difficulties,” she added.

The strong international element includes performance artists involved in CAUTION a performance art exhibition curated by Sinead O’Donnell and presented at the Golden Thread Gallery, another Unlimited Cultural Olympiad commissioned piece. The ADF’s partnership with DaDaFest in Liverpool has brought performers from India (Benny Prasad who will be co-promoted with ethnic arts organisation Arts Ekta) and Canada (David Roche, who will perform alongside Belfast-based Catherine Hatt).

David Roche, who has a facial disfigurement, is bringing his one man show ‘The Church of 80% Sincerity’ to the Black Box on August 25. His funny and moving monologue encourages the audience to accept themselves and other people for who they are.

On August 28th, the Black Box will host ‘Bouncy’ Black Moon disability night club. Black Moon is a monthly club by and for people with learning difficulties.  Bouncy Black Moon will be open to all festival attendees, regardless of disability. The club will be decorated by disabled visual artists working with people with learning difficulties and will have a space age theme so visitors are asked to dress for the future.

Local companies Luminous Soul and Kids in Control will showcase new work on 28th and 29th August. And on Thursday 30th, Impact Forum Theatre Group from County Donegal will pose questions for the actors and audience to answer in two Forum Theatre pieces called Take Me Out and Happy.

Northern Ireland based animator Joel Simon from Flickerpix is another artist  premiering new work commissioned through the Unlimited funding stream. Joel’s film Macropolis will run until 30th August at the Queen’s Film Theatre.

For more information contact the ADF on 02890239450, email Chris Ledger at or visit the website