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Review: D.Vercity European Disability Arts and Culture Festival

Disability arts was all over Preston and Lancaster from 24 August - 6 September 2009. Peter Street caught some of the festival

a photo of the band on stage Heavy Load

Heavy Load in action

Image: Heavy Load

The D.Vercity festival included seminars, film festivals, and a programme of events, exhibitions and workshops led by disabled artists.

Our reviewer, Peter Street, heard Stephen Hodgkins, Director of Disability LIB talking about 'Disability arts as the cultural arm of the movement.'

He also saw Heavy Load's award winning documentary

'A kind of Pearly King' is how Director of Disability Lib, Stephen Hodgkins, described his black suit covered with white upside down wheelchairs. From then on I was just pulled into the whole idea of this conference.

From that moment I knew it was going to be something special and it was. Special in the way Stephen talked about our history: the history of the disability arts movement and those who have shaped it into what it is today.

Ok, there were a few chokes in the throat when we saw and heard Ian Stanton singing "A chip on my shoulder." This was a show, pure and simple and what a show it was; with other pioneers like Simon Brissenden and Ellie Wilks, how could it go wrong?

Judith Stephenson, who put this show together, knew exactly what she was doing. It was also what we needed to see. This was us and how far we have travelled, Yes, it has been a difficult journey but we’re ‘crips’ - what else did we expect!

More than that, it demonstrated our strength and determination. It was just a pity more people didn’t see what we in disability arts had, and still have, to offer. This was more than a history lesson. This was us in all of our glory. This was D.Versity! Free Our People.

Later in the day I was taken over to the Mitchel and Kenyon Cinema. Ok, it wasn’t quite Pearl and Dean but I don’t think it could have been any better. I was there to watch 'Heavy Load: There's nothing better than being in a band,' a short film about the rise and rise of a band who seemed to me to be somewhere between the Clash and the Rolling Stones.

The band were great yet I felt there was something missing, something that had not really come through in the film – their energy. That to me was what the film was about – energy and raw talent.

Maybe it was something to do with the film maker? Or maybe, just maybe it was me? You need to see this for yourself and let us know what you think.

You can read some reviews of Heavy Load at DadaFest 2008