Saturday, January 29, 2011

London Olympics to put spotlight on disabled artitsts

From Artinfo:

LONDON — In summer 2012, the London Olympics, with 26 sports, will be followed by the Paralympics, which will feature 20 sports for disabled athletes. Along the same lines, the London Cultural Olympiad — arts programming during the period leading up to the Olympics — will spotlight disabled artists through its Unlimited program, which has just received over £820,000 ($1.3 million) in funding.

Thirteen artists across the U.K. have been commissioned for projects that range from a "bipolar circus" to a wildflower sculpture installation to choreography that incorporates physical disabilities.

In a press release, London 2012 outlines the planned performances and installations. In Yorkshire, Michele Weaver will develop "Bipolar Circus," a show intended to "challenge public perceptions of bipolar disorder — both the negativity associated with depression and the contentious links between mania and genius creativity."

In London, Candoco Dance Company will commission two emerging disabled choreographers, Marc Brew and Claire Cunningham (pictured), to make a large-scale dance piece for disabled and non-disabled dancers. Additionally, Brew will choreograph a piece to be performed in Ipswich, London, and Birmingham, while Cunningham will perform "Ménage à Trois," a solo piece that she created about a lonely disabled woman who crafts a male companion out of crutches.

While theater and the performing arts are emphasized, some visual art is in the mix as well: Paul Cummins will create an English garden installation of up to 10,000 hand-crafted ceramic flowers on stems of galvanized steel, and Simon McKeown will create digital art based on 3D software treatments of the movements of disabled athletes.

Sir Vernon Ellis, chair of the British Council, said in a statement that the Unlimited program "provides a wealth of opportunities — taking the work of these artists to new audiences, building their credibility and confidence, and enabling the arts world to work more effectively with disabled and deaf people."

With a total budget of £3 million ($4.75 million), the Unlimited program is mainly funded by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor and principally administered by London 2012, Arts Council England, and the British Council.

Meanwhile, Arts Council England is facing a financial crisis, having had its funding slashed by 30 percent. The organization is now considering selling some of its art collection to buy other works, the BBC reports. Up to a third of its collection is on loan at any given time, and the Council's chief executive, Alan Davey, said that the organization would like to increase that figure to 50 percent. The Arts Council recently announced that 600 arts organizations are likely to be denied funding in light of the budgetary cuts, according to the Guardian.