The world’s biggest disability and deaf arts festival is to link up next year with the cultural celebrations around the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
DaDaFest, the International Festival of Disability and Deaf Arts, which is based in Liverpool, will take place much earlier than in previous years so it can connect with London 2012 and the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
The festival will include collaborations with leading artists from across the world and will focus more on artists from the non-English speaking world, including at least 12 European countries.
DaDaFest is also talking to artists in Africa, Asia and South America, particularly Brazil, which will itself be staging a major disability arts festival in Rio at the time of the 2016 Paralympics. DaDaFest is hoping to take a mini-festival to Rio as part of those celebrations.
It is also hoping to take international disabled artists visiting the UK as part of the 2012 celebrations and tour them under the DaDaFest umbrella in venues in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast.
The theme of next year’s festival, the “biggest, most comprehensive and challenging festival of disability and deaf arts in the world”, will be Transactions – Fluid Bodies: Shifting Identities.
The theme will allow the festival to look at “how disability affects the lives of us all, examining exchanges that occur between people and technology”.
It will also look at how our sense of identity is “bound up with” our bodies, and how those bodies “are not stable or unchanging through our lives but alter depending upon age and a wide variety of other situations”.
Ruth Gould, chief executive of DaDaFest, said: “We wanted to be a bit provocative and get people to think about things we don’t usually think about.”
She said she was particularly interested in how artists might react to the idea of cyborgs – humans who are also part-machine – or what they think the decision of the disabled athlete Oscar Pistorius to take part in the Olympics “says about the Paralympics and our place as disabled people”.
One of the centrepieces of the festival will be Niet Normaal (Dutch for “not normal”), an adaptation of a successful Amsterdam exhibition that asked the question: what is normal and who decides?
The DaDaFest version will include new commissions and a programme of talks and films, which aims to celebrate difference in the year of the Olympics and Paralympics.
Among other highlights will be a major international visual arts festival, “cutting-edge comedy”, Deaf culture events, and performances by leading international musicians.
The last DaDaFest in 2010 reached nearly 80,000 visitors, and featured 316 artists. Future festivals will take place every two years.
The 11th festival will take place, mostly in arts venues across Liverpool, from 13 July to 2 September 2012.