In line with the Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival’s (D-CAF) commitment to addressing the topic of disability and the arts, a discussion session will be held The GrEEK Campus on Saturday, March, 24.
The speakers will include Carole McFadden (British Council, UK), Chris Ricketts (Candoco Dance Company, Egypt), Mennatallah Azmi (Dancer, Egypt), and Paul Hector (UNESCO, Egypt). The moderator of the sessions will be Cathy Costain (British Council, Egypt).
The panelists will discuss “in concrete terms the current state of differently-abled artists in the region,” clarifies the D-CAF’s promotional material.
It continues, “The panelists will discuss an array of topics, including whether there even is a disability arts scene in Egypt and if not, should one be fostered specifically? Or, more inclusively speaking, who would benefit from dropping the distinction of ‘disability arts’ altogether, just calling it ‘arts?'”
“The panelists will also address whether, from their perspective, there is a lack of arts initiatives that specifically include disabled people. Finally, the speakers will consider how to more firmly embed inclusivity in arts organizations, instead of simply hosting and supporting one-off events,” it explains.
The discussion is under D-CAF’s Arts for All, and Arts and Disability segments, an initiative that since the festival’s fourth edition in 2015 has become an integral part of the festival’s programming, though introducing shows highlighting disability and launching other activities within the differently-abled scope.
In this context, the festival already included events such as Italy’s Mission Roosevelt (2015), which involved the participation of the public in wheelchairs; Austria’s Madeeh (2016), which worked on movement, dance, and explored physicality with a few dancers on the wheelchairs; and Gaze (2016) by the UK’s Stopgap Dance Company, which employed disabled and non-disabled actors; among other shows.
In 2017, the Arts and Disability segment of D-CAF, in its sixth edition, aimed to challenge perceptions of the disabled by including people with disabilities and showcasing international artistic practices with the disabled.
Among important highlights of the initiative was a 2017 performance staged by Switzerland’s HORA Theatre at AUC’s Ewart Memorial Hall. The performance brought together ten actors from HORA Theatre, a Zurich-based troupe which since 1993 has used art and theatre to support and promote “the creative and artistic development of people with learning disabilities,” according to the program notes.
As the discussions around disabilities continue, this year D-CAF takes the findings and thoughts into a discussion hosting the renowned panelists.
Saturday, March, 24, 5 pm
The GrEEK Campus–Library Main Hall, Downtown Cairo
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.