Organisers of the Together! 2012 festival in Newham announce their successes, after the disappointment of venue closure at the last minute.
The Stratford-based UK Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC) have been planning the volunteer-led Together! 2012 festival since 2009, to coincide with the Paralympics. Their plans were nearly ruined after the closure of their main venue, London Pleasure Gardens, at the beginning of the Olympic Games.
The Greater London Authority, who were bringing their Liberty festival to Newham on Sunday 2 September as part of Together!, also had to cancel when an alternative site could not be found in time.
However, with the support of St John’s Church, Stratford Advice Arcade and Eastside Community Heritage, UKDPC was still able to showcase 20 locally based disabled artists during the Paralympics, alongside nine international and three UK-based disabled artists.
The Advice Arcade became UKDPC House and hosted two exhibitions and a performance by US comedian David Roche, while performances by Signdance Collective International, Indian guitarist Benny Prasad and Bollywood wheelchair dancers Muskaan took place in St John’s Churchyard.
Work by locally based disabled artists remains on show at the pop-up People’s Museum and Gallery at 306 High Street until 13 September 2012.
In total three exhibitions, six performances and a storytelling workshop with David Roche took place between 29 August and 9 September. Artists and workshop participants were each awarded commemorative ‘gold’ medals, provided by Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales.
The remainder of the Together! festival events — including a three-day film festival, poetry café, fashion week, conferences and debates, sports taster activities and more exhibitions and performances — will now take place during Disability History Month (from 22 November 2012). For more information see www.together2012.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org to join our mailing list.
Artistic Director Dr Ju Gosling said: “I have been delighted with the quality of work on show, and with the enthusiastic response from residents and visitors alike. We look forward to many more people joining ‘together’ with us in the autumn to celebrate Disability Art and Culture and learn more about disability rights as part of the Paralympic Legacy.”
UKDPC CEO Jaspal Dhani added: “UKDPC has been proud to host this week of Disability Arts and to have been part of such a wonderful event. We owe a massive thank you to all who have taken part, and especially to the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to ensure that this part of the Together! 2012 Festival went well.”
Together! 2012 is funded by the UK Disabled People’s Council, East London NHS Foundation Trust, London Borough of Newham and Advance. Official supporters include Stephen Timms MP, Lyn Brown MP, Greenwich Leisure Ltd, West Ham United Football Club and the Greater London Authority.