The very first Arts & Disability Festival in the Middle East will take place at Katara from 15 – 30 March 2013, to celebrate the talents of disabled artists through a unique and varied programme of events and activities. The British Council, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Arts & Heritage in Qatar are presenting a programme rich with live performances, exhibitions, intriguing installations, compelling films, relevant discussions and practical workshops, all engineered to interest people across the spectrum.

Hosted by Katara Cultural Village, the festival is one of the highlights of Qatar-UK 2013, an initiative of yearlong events that celebrates the developing partnership between Qatar and the United Kingdom in the fields of art, culture, education, sport and science.

The work for the festival has been selected from The Unlimited Programme, the largest celebration and exploration of disability arts and a major element of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Exhibitions and performances include:

Three: a dance theatre from award-winning performer Claire Cunningham and choreographer and video artist Gail Sneddon. It is a deeply personal portrait that explores Claire’s 20-year relationship with her crutches.

From the show 'Three' – Sven Hagolani
From the show Three – Sven Hagolani

Fusional Fragments: from The Marc Brew Company, combining classical ballet and contemporary dance, as Grammy Award-winner Dame Evelyn Glennie makes music move as she performs live and fresh from her role in the Olympic opening ceremony.

Kieran and Evelyn from Fusional Fragments – Irven Lewis
Kieran and Evelyn from Fusional Fragments – Irven Lewis

This Breathing World: a dramatic collection of artwork by Rachel Gadsden. Gadsden spent the first 20 years of her life living in the Middle East and this formative cultural experience continues to inhabit and enrich all of her work.

Turning Point: a short film by Welsh filmmaker Chris Tally Evans, which utilises images from his native Wales.

A scene from the movie 'Turning Point' – Caroline John
A scene from the movie Turning Point – Caroline John

Macropolis: by Joel Simon, two disabled squeaky toys escape from the factory and find themselves lost and alone in an urban world full of over-sized humans. Shot using a unique mix of stop-motion animation and time-lapse photography on the streets of Belfast, Macropolis is a modern-day fable with a striking visual appearance.

A scene from the animation Macropolis – Flickerpix 2012
A scene from the animation Macropolis – Flickerpix 2012

Creating the Spectacle: documentary film portraying Sue Austin’s performances in a self-propelled wheelchair.

Body Mapping Workshop: artist Rachel Gadsden leads a workshop for families with disabled children. She introduces participants to a powerful tool to envision how life experience is stored in your body. It is suitable for all ages.

From the paintings of Rachel Gadsden
From the paintings of Rachel Gadsden

Guests can also hear some of the exhibited artists deliver moving talks about their work and what influences it. They will also share their experience and thoughts on what it means to be a disabled artist in 2013, as well as engaging with the audience in a question and answer session.