General Reflections from Unlimited Ally by Fierce Festival

‘Fierce Festival found that being an Unlimited Ally sharpened our thinking as an organisation and developed our practice as curator-producers.  Wearing this badge on our festival programme felt like a really active, positive, public statement and we are proud to be part of the movement. 

We felt incredibly well supported by the Unlimited team – especially Jo Verrent and Clara Giraud.  I felt there was a safe space, and there was no such thing as a stupid question.  We had some searching critical discussions on the politics of language and the way that artistic works were positioned and framed in our programme.

We are a small team and a very busy organization, but being badged as an Unlimited Ally meant that we really prioritized thinking about accessibility across all our activity.  We have often been careful to consider physical accessibility but we pushed ourselves further to think about things like our website.  Incorporating elements like adjustable font size, different colour schemes and text-to-speech functionality became a creative provocation for our web designers.  The local, Birmingham-based company we were working with (http://anendlesssupply.co.uk/) rose to the challenge and created an elegant solution.

Through working with Unlimited we have discovered new artists.  We have also learnt more about different artists needs and other ways of working.  The vacuum cleaner, for example, sent us his disability awareness document at the start of our conversation and process of working together.  It was useful to read this and it inspired us to pause and reflect about our working practices.

We also received Unlimited Impact funding to support recruitment and appointment of a BSL interpreter for two shows in the programme – a first for Fierce Festival (since a lot of our programme is highly visual).

The search for an interpreter was interesting – throwing up some questions amongst the community about BSL interpretation for more experimental work.  We were told that it can be hard to find an interpreter who is willing to work with more experimental practice and is sensitive enough to let it breathe, but also make sure it is easily understood.  We are thrilled to have made contact with Rachael Veazey, who has some very clear ideas and an interesting take on BSL interpretation.

 

Fierce 2014 - Ian Johnston & Gary Gardiner - Dancer-3

Ian Johnston and Gary Gardiner: ‘Dancer’

Fierce & Unlimited: the future

We will remain an Unlimited Ally and look forward to engaging further with the Unlimited network.  We are particularly interested in the offer of access auditing – for marketing, website and the festival plan more generally.  We were thrilled with our designer’s response to incorporating accessibility requirements into our website design.  This will be integrated into our thinking going forwards – how we caption videos, audio files of key texts and so on.

We are also always keen to receive training and expand our knowledge of the issues that need to be tackled on strategies to provide the best platform and visibility for disability-led work, and attract the largest audience from the widest possible demographic.

Going forwards – we are in touch with several artists who received R&D funding grants this year about their applications for full Unlimited Commissions.  We are very keen to present more work commissioned by Unlimited.

We also intend to present another BSL interpreted performance during Fierce 2015 and are considering which piece of work in our proposed programme is most suitable.  We would work with Rachael Veazey (the interpreter we discovered with help from Unlimited IMPACT funding) again in 2015.

We remain in conversation with mac – who are an inspiring local partner championing disability-led work.  We will attend their symposium Awkward Bastards in March: http://macbirmingham.co.uk/event/symposium-awkward-bastards/

We are keen to develop our links to other disability led arts organisations – artists and producers – in the region.’

Fierce 2014 - Aaron Williamson, Nicola Canavan and Noemi Lakmaier - Unlimited Salon (LOW RES)-33

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noemi Lakmeier: ‘Cherophobia’ R&D

 

 

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