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> > > Disabled artists take centre stage at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe sees the first Unlimited exhibition, showing work by exceptional disabled artists at Summerhall’s Meadow Galleries from 5 August to 5 October.

colourful image of a skeleton

Image Credit: ALTAR/ER (detail) by Lea Cummings

Unlimited artists are also presenting live theatre, dance, literary and art events at other leading fringe venues including Pleasance Courtyard and The Assembly Rooms, as part of the British Council, Made in Scotland and the Stopgap iF Platform showcases. It is an unprecedented opportunity for work by disabled artists to be seen on a mainstream platform, accessible to all.

Variously dark, cutting, hilarious, entertaining and more, many of the works are inspired by the disabling barriers faced by the artists. Mental illness, homelessness, perception of disability and many more issues are explored, creating discussion around diversity, equality, accessibility and social justice. 

Jo Verrent, senior producer for Unlimited, says: “the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the world so to be able to showcase so much work by disabled artists here is an opportunity not to be missed. We are finally moving out of the margins and into the mainstream.”

Neil Webb, Director Theatre and Dance, British Council said: “As one of the partners on the Unlimited Programme, this year's British Council Edinburgh Showcase includes work by some extraordinary artists – Claire Cunningham, Caroline Bowditch, Fittings Multimedia Art, Ramesh Mayyappan and Touretteshero. With over 200 programmers and producers joining us from all over the world, we provide the artists with opportunities to have their work seen internationally and seed those life-long relationship and future collaborations.”

Maggie Maxwell, Head of Equalities & Diversity, Creative Scotland, said: “Scotland is recognised internationally for its leading artists and performers.  We are delighted that so many of our artists are featured in Unlimited exhibitions and performances across the Fringe programme, with Unlimited at Summerhall and as part of the Made in Scotland showcase and the British Council showcase. Equality, diversity and inclusion are fundamental to the arts in Scotland, and Unlimited artists are living proof of the excellence that diversity offers.”

Touretteshero’s Jess Thom says: “I’m really excited to be bringing Backstage In Biscuit Land back to the Fringe as part of the British Council and iF showcases. Continued support from Unlimited has meant we’ve been able to develop the show and it feels stronger than ever. I’m looking forward to introducing new audiences to the surreal world Tourettes creates around me, and to spreading the message that making theatre inclusive makes it better.” 

Unlimited is a three-year commissioning and support programme for disabled artists, delivered by Artsadmin and Shape.
The Unlimited exhibition
Meadow Galleries, Summerhall (Venue 26) part of 'Allegories & Existence' shows from 5 August to 5 October. Unlimited’s first exhibition at Summerhall is a series of ambitious mixed media installations by the UK’s leading disabled artists. The exhibition deals with historical and contemporary issues, offering insight into the lives of others whilst also exploring topics which affect us all.

The works challenge the myths which surround disability. They include Bekki Perriman’s stories of people living on the street The Doorways Project; Aidan Moesby and Pum Dunbar’s Fragmenting the Code(x); Lee Cumming’s kaleidoscopic LIFEFORCE ALTAR/ER and Richard Butchins’ very personal 213 things about me.The exhibition includes screenings of Does it Matter?, a series of Channel 4 and Artsadmin-commissioned shorts on the legacy of war by Claire Cunningham, Tony Heaton, Jez Colborne, Simon Mckeown and Katherine Araniello. Video pieces by Sheila Hill, Nicola Canavan and Craig Simpson muse on human fragility whilst Katherine Araniello (plus her larger-than-life inflatable effigy) hosts a very extraordinary dinner party.

The exhibition embeds the artists’ work within contemporary art practice, bringing disabled people and artists within society to the fore and, in turn, reaching new audiences and shifting perceptions.

Wendy Hoose / Birds of Paradise
The Assembly Rooms (Venue 20), 17-30 August, 15:30 daily
A frank and hilarious comedy about two 20-year-olds searching for love in all the wrong places! But getting your leg over is sometimes more difficult than you think. Programmed as part of the Made In Scotland showcase

Backstage in Biscuitland / Touretteshero
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), 24-30 August, 17:00 daily 
A two-woman solo show weaving comedy, puppetry, singing, and incredible tics to explore spontaneity, creativity, disability, and things you never knew would make you laugh. Programmed as part of the British Council showcase and the iF Platform.

Edmund the Learned Pig / Fittings Multimedia Arts
Summerhall (Venue 26), 24-30 August, 11:20 daily
Based on an unpublished poem by Edward Gorey, this magical tale fuses BSL sign language, puppets, aerial-circus, deaf storytelling techniques and music. This is programmed as part of the British Council showcase.

Performances by other Unlimited supported artists can also be seen at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe:  Claire Cunningham's Give Me A Reason is part of the Made in Scotland and British Council showcases; Jo Bannon’s Alba is part of Stopgap’s iF platform and Liz Carr is performing at The Sick of the Fringe.

Talks and Debates
iF not now, when?
Fringe Central (Venue 2), 25 August 2015
Unlimited is taking part in a day of interventions, debates and discussions as part of the iF Platform and the British Council Emerging Producers Development scheme. The iF Platform (23-31 August) features five of the UK's top disabled artists and integrated arts companies as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015, including a lunchtime session to ‘meet the artists’ from both iF and Unlimited who are up for the Fringe.

Disability – a creative advantage
Fringe Central (Venue 2), 26 August, 11:00-12:00
Look at disability from a fresh perspective – just how are disabled artists using their lived experience as a creative spur to create art that is innovative and universally appealing?

Producing and the art of including everyone
Fringe Central (Venue 2), 27 August, 14:00-15:00
Producers are often in the best position to advocate for access. Come find out when to do it, how to do it, and crucially why it’s so important for the whole cultural ecology


Paul Wady

2 August 2015

I will be converting audiences to autism in my show, Guerrilla Aspies at the 3 Sisters in Maggies front room, 13-16th at 11am. The show of my book. Guerrilla Aspies - a neurotypical society infiltration manual.

We are the new normal. ;)

I look forwards to seeing everyone in the above list. Thank you for this post.