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Mayor urges high profile for disabled artists and performers in 2012

3 September 2009

The capital's iconic outdoor performance space Trafalgar Square will be transformed with live music, street arts, comedy, aerial performance and much more, when the Liberty festival returns on Saturday 5 September.

The Mayor of London is backing the free event, which showcases the breadth of artistic work and performance being created by Deaf and disabled people and he wants to ensure they have a central role in the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Several performances have been commissioned especially for Liberty 2009 - with additional support from Arts Council England, the wide-ranging programme includes contemporary dance, circus, visual arts, spoken word and sport and arts collaborations.

Mayor Boris Johnson says: 'The extraordinary variety of things going on at Liberty shows how important Deaf and disabled artists are to London's cultural life and its creativity. It's about bringing the work of talented people to a wider audience – we will be working with 2012 to ensure the work of Deaf and disabled people is properly showcased in three years time.'

Liberty 2009 highlights include newly commissioned dance from the Marc Brew Company, which features the voice of writer Iain Banks, Channel 4 'Operatunity' star Denise Leigh and, fresh from their Glastonbury appearance, Spaceships are Cool, who specialise in their own brand of sci-fi sunshine pop.

BBC Ouch! is hosting Live Talk Show, presented by renowned comedians Mat Fraser and Liz Carr, with audience participation and music by the brilliant blind and autistic savant pianist Derek Paravicini. Another new initiative is sit down comedian and musician Liz Bentley as writer in residence and the "Voice of Liberty", who will be working with artists and audiences throughout the day to capture people's feelings and experiences.

Liberty is building on its street arts programme through partnership with Without Walls. This includes StopGAP dance company's "Tracking", which features a newly commissioned element involving a sport and arts, and Fittings Multi-media Arts production of "Sputnik", a poetic combination of kinetic sculpture by Sharmanka and aerial performance by Claire Cunningham.

Liberty also features visual arts installations, workshops, stalls, food and other family friendly activities.

Other highlights include:

  • Soulful jazz and R&B from Minika Green.
  • 'The Meaning of Life', a sign song performance directed by Graeae Theatre's Jenny Sealey, bringing together Caroline Parker and Ruth Hands.
  • Contemporary dance from Chisato Minamimura.
  • Upswing presents Rowena Deletant in a new circus performance using traditional and contemporary Chinese pole choreography.
  • Extant, Britain’s only professional company of visually impaired artists presents 'Obscurity', a 21st century retelling of the traditional story of the Blind Men and the Elephant featuring interactive soundscape by Braunarts, live music from Baluji Srivastav and visuals by Sally Booth.
  • Blue Eyed Soul are presenting a new aerial performance on a dome rig entitled 'TAKE: to the air in the Square', as well as "have a go" aerial workshops.
  • For children, Emergency Exit Arts with storyteller Giles Abbott present a child centred journey through a Water Garden, involving music, games and crafts – and a meeting with the Story Swan.
  • The Visual Arts Zone, curated by Luminous Frenzy, includes workshops with visually impaired artist Terry Hopwood Jackson, an exhibition by artists with learning disabilities from Siren Arts & Advocacy, plus live painting from the Lost World Collective, older artists with learning disabilities.
  • To round things off, a specially commissioned musical finale by composer and producer Kuljit Bhamra – with everyone encouraged to take part.

To coincide with the Liberty festival, City Hall is hosting an exhibition of more than 60 works by the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, which is part of an international association of artists who paint by using their mouth or foot. Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes met with contributing artists at the official opening on 2 September. A demonstration of work by the group will also take place at the Liberty festival on 5 September.

In addition, the Deputy Mayor will be chairing a meeting of Disabled and Deaf Stakeholders Groups on Monday 7 September, and speaking at the Disability Capital conference, which the Greater London Authority is organising at Excel on 25 September.

London 2012 is set to announce details of Unlimited later this autumn, a nationwide celebration of arts and disability culture and sport, which will use the power of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to profile the creative talents and ambitions of disabled people and to challenge traditional perceptions of disability. Unlimited will feature a series of major commissions for disabled artists and organisations as well as providing workshops, mentoring, career and training advice.

Notes to Editors

Event: Liberty
Location: Trafalgar Square
Date: Saturday 5 September 2009
Time: 1pm-6pm

Information: / recorded message: 020 7983 4277

  1. Liberty 2009 is produced by GDIF, with assistance from Attitude is Everything, Artsline and Shape, as well as Without Walls, the national consortium of outdoor arts festivals. The event is supported by the Mayor of London, Unison and Transport for London, with additional funding from Arts Council England through Grant for the Arts.
  2. Liberty welcomes everyone and is organised to be accessible and inclusive. A range of facilities and services are available on the day, including: Disability awareness trained stewards; Programmes in different formats; BSL interpretation and audio description; Induction loops at information points; Wheelchair loan service; Free parking nearby for blue badge holders (bookable in advance only, email:
  3. For additional information, visit:; email; recorded message: 020 7983 4277.
  4. Ouch! is a website from the BBC that reflects the lives and experiences of disabled people. It has articles, blogs, a very busy message board and an award-winning downloadable radio show - The Ouch Podcast.
  5. The Mayor recently published a survey into the capital's most accessible attractions commissioned in partnership with Direct Enquiries, The Nationwide Access Register. For more information, go to
  6. The Mayor has also published his equality action plan 'Equal Life Chances For All', a new approach to equality and inclusion. For more information go to:
  7. The Mayor is backing the Disability Capital Conference, as part of Disability London, a major event which takes place at ExCeL London on 25 September and also incorporates No Limits, the disability trade and consumer exhibition. For more information go to
  8. The Mouth and Foot Artists exhibition is a unique collection of over 60 paintings created by artists who paint without the use of their hands. It is on display in the Chamber Lobby from 2 - 24 September. The artists will be demonstrating their painting techniques each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, as well as during on London Open House weekend (19-20 September).
  9. London Underground recently produced an accessibility guide and map of the network to make it easier for people with mobility issues to choose the stations where access is easiest. Visit