News: Spotlight On Disability Arts at the Fringe

Friday 21 August 2015 by Clare Evans

Stopgap

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is world famous for the diverse and inspiring array of art it hosts each year. More than 3,300 shows are being staged there this summer, showcasing everything from Shakespeare to Circus acts. But is enough being done to represent those with disabilities? Stopgap Dance Company didn’t think so, so this year they’ve organised a new initiative called The iF platform, to help artists with disabilites get to the Fringe. Five artists with disabilities have travelled to the festival through iF platform, with shows ranging from beatboxing to theatre.

“Barely half (53%) of the 313 listed festival venues are described as wheelchair accessible. Several spaces in the leading venue Underbelly, for example, are only accessible via a spiral staircase. Only one in 10 shows will have hearing loops installed, and only 47 shows (a mere 1.4%) include signed performances. If you rely on audio description, this year’s fringe essentially consists of 19 shows.”

“Lou Rogers, creative producer of strategic touring at Stopgap, who masterminded the iF platform, says: “It quickly became obvious there were loads of performers with disabilities out there who wanted to come to Edinburgh but felt like they couldn’t do it without a support structure around them. We had so many applications it was really difficult to choose.”

Read more: The Guardian, 13 August 2015

Jack Thorne, Jessica Thom, and Cian Binchy, three artists presenting work at this year’s fringe, gave their views on what progress has already been made, and what still needs to change.

“I do need some support, but first and foremost I’m a professional artist. Having autism is just part of who I am. The show isn’t a lecture; I take the piss a lot, but I want to open people’s minds to the idea that autism is just one element in someone’s life experience, and that a lot of the time the problem is with how people see disability, not the disability itself.” – Cian Binchy.

Read more: The Guardian, 20 August 2015

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