Following the Olympic and Paralympic Cultural Forum this April in Rio de Janeiro, People’s Palace Projects co-curated with the British Council and Sesc Rio, with support from Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and Queen Mary, University of London. Featuring some of the most exciting artists from London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, Unlimited: Arte sem Limites celebrated cutting edge, contemporary work by deaf and disabled artists with performances, workshops, screenings and an exhibition. It aimed to seed dialogue and collaborative relationships between companies with a special interest in disabled and inclusive arts practices, in Brazil and the UK.
Unlimited: Arte sem Limites included Bobby Baker’s award-winning Diary Drawings visual arts exhibition presented in an accessible digital form; Marc Brew Company’s high quality dance; Graeae’s joyful explosion celebrating a disabled UK artist – Ian Dury – who challenged social conventions; and workshops by two of the most radical artists from the Unlimited Festival in London – Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz. This was accompanied by a showcase of twelve 90 second short documentary films, created as part of Unlimited London 2012, exploring inspirational disabled artists and their contribution to London 2012 Festival.
About 120 people attended workshops in four different art forms over the two days of the festival, and over 500 people attended the performances and exhibitions across the weekend. Unlimited: Arte sem Limites staked its place outside of the comfort zone of community arts, creating a critical, urgent and contemporary resetting of the disability arts agenda.
Alongside the performances and workshops, were training sessions in disability arts and access awareness for Sesc staff and for 20 young people from community-based arts organisations. Unlimited: Arte sem Limites provided space in which artists, audiences, policy-makers, funders, directors of cultural institutions and organisations working within the disability sector could share experiences, debate ideas and celebrate what London 2012 achieved and hopes to pass on to Rio 2016.
It was a mind-blowing few days. Graeae and Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz have returned visits and performances planned. Unlimited was the perfect accompaniment to the Cultural Forum, beginning to connect disabled and non-disabled artists and audiences from London 2012 to Rio 2016.
Unlimited: Arte sem Limites is part of the British Council’s Transform, a new four-year arts and creativity programme, aiming to develop the artistic dialogue between the UK and Brazil for mutual benefit and long-term impact.