DaDaFest set to break new ground with arts and rights conference


newslatestLiverpool’s world-renowned disability and deaf arts festival, DaDaFest, will help to mark its 30th birthday later this year with a ground-breaking conference on disability culture and human rights.

The two-day DaDaFest International Congress on Disability Culture and Human Rights will be one of the centre-pieces of its 12th festival – which begins in November – and will feature an international line-up of speakers.

It will explore “how communities and artists from across the globe are using the arts as a vehicle for social change”, linking disability arts, social justice and human rights.

Leading disabled figures already confirmed as speakers include Leroy Moore, founder of Krip Hop Nation, the US organisation which promotes the musical talents of disabled hip-hop artists; artist Rachel Gadsden; Colin Hambrook, artist and editor of Disability Arts Online; and Rachel Kachaje, deputy chair of Disabled People’s International.

In addition to the conference, the 12th DaDaFest will feature an international line-up of talent across comedy, music, visual arts and dance.

Highlights will include a performance by world-renowned Staff Benda Bilili, a band of former street musicians from Congo; a new show by comedian Laurence Clark, Moments of Instant Regret; and a major new exhibition, Art of the Lived Experiment.

Ruth Gould, artistic director of DaDaFest, said her organisation aimed to use its knowledge and experience from the last 30 years to “inform the national debate on the position of disabled people and the need for continuing social change”.

She said: “The recent cuts in public spending have hit disabled people particularly hard, and while DaDaFest is all about celebrating the talents and achievement of our artists, we continue to actively highlight the need for social inclusion and justice.”

Art of the Lived Experiment demonstrates this need for change, and “addresses the idea that both art and life are in a state of continual change and uncertainty”, with nine new commissions and 28 artists from the UK and abroad, and includes sculpture, film, visual arts and performance pieces.

Artists exhibiting include Katherine Araniello, Bobby Baker, Tony Heaton and Simon Raven, from the UK, as well as artists from Sweden, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, India, South Africa, the US and Australia.

Gould said: “There are many ways to change people’s minds, and art is perhaps the most potent.

“It taps into the imagination, and has the power to take us out of our usual ways of thinking, towards new understandings and perceptions.

“Much of DaDaFest’s work is about disclosing both the reality and the possibility, the variances and the commonalities of our experiences.

“It is a both a challenge and a celebration, and this year the International Congress and Art of the Lived Experiment are at the festival’s heart.”

The exhibition takes place from 8 November 2014 to 11 January 2015 and the main festival programme runs from 21 November to 6 December.

11 September 2014