June 2016

We are desperate for it to start feeling like summer but the sunshine has been particularly shy lately in Stockton. The moment there is a glimpse of sun though and everyone is gathered around the fountains in the market square – it’s great to see people full of fun and relaxing a bit.

1. Mentor Group
Our amazing young disabled people on our 45 Days to Find My Way project have all been thinking about the next steps they’d like to take in their challenge to the community to see disability differently. I’m delighted to say that we have extended our partnership with Steps from Stockton Borough Council’s Adult Services and so we have been able to create a brand new project where six members of 45 Days will become mentors to a new intake of young people interested in making theatre and films about ‘things that matter’. I’m so pleased to be able to continue working with this group in a new venture to ensure their wonderful voices continue to be heard.

2. Performing Arts at ARC
We’ve been able to create a performing arts for young people project at ARC, particularly aimed at young disabled people from 18-25years. We’ve had 8 young people coming to take part and they’ve worked with myself and two other practitioners – Viktoria who is a professional actress and Shane a digital, film and animation artist. We’ve all had a brilliant time and we’re over the moon to have new people working with us. Some of the members of 45 Days wanted to specialise in performing arts and have also signed up for this new project.

3. Can I Start Again Please

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It was such a privilege to be able to bring Can I Start Again Please by Sue MacLaine Company to ARC. It was performed by Sue MacLaine and Nadia Nadarajah with stunning set and costumes by Lucy Bradridge. A very cleverly created piece, it was bilingual between English and British Sign Language.  The audience is invited to consider what is being described here consistently throughout the performance piece. It is intensely personal and then epic in its political scope. I loved it and it was brilliant to see so many D/deaf audience members coming along to see a piece they connected with.

4. Practitioners
We are finally at a place in the development of the project where we can bring in other practitioners to work with groups and on various projects. We did a recruitment drive to bring in practitioners who could bring a range of skills to share with our participants. It’s so exciting to welcome them on board and to broaden what we have on offer. We’ll bring you more on this.

5. Lawnmowers Festival30 and the Red Book

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A bittersweet element to this item, as although it’s an absolutely huge achievement to see Lawnmowers celebrating their 30th anniversary, Geraldine Ling, their Artistic Director is retiring. They were the first self-organising element of Disability Arts in the North East area – so Disability Arts in the NE turns 30 too this year. Geraldine Ling who has driven so much of Lawnmowers activity and created hundreds of thousands of opportunities for learning disabled people to have their voices heard in a myriad of creative, wonderful and otherwise non-existant ways, is retiring, but not disappearing!  So a huge thank you to her for all she has done, not only in the UK but also in Brazil, she’s not disappearing though but Geraldine we celebrate you!! As part of their celebrations the company devised a new piece with Pady O’Connor called the Red Book which came to ARC and Full Circle were thrilled to get the opportunity to work with them and see their fantastic show. We also went to Gateshead to the festival to share the work of Full Circle and Cultural Shift and out ideas forward for a network. It was brilliant and we can’t wait to hear more about this and wish the new artistic directors and company great luck as they move forward!