International acts headline first UK deaf arts festival

Celebrating the best in deaf art at the Incloodu Deaf Arts festival. Pic: Kitty Knowles

Celebrating the best in deaf art at the Incloodu Deaf Arts festival. Pic: Kitty Knowles

The first UK multimedia festival of deaf culture will take place in Tower Hamlets tomorrow, with international stars including deaf percussionist, Dame Evelyn Glennie supporting the event.

The Incloodu Deaf Arts Festival will be held at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green and will feature a film by the Scottish musician. Other activities include creative workshops, theatre and art, and an after party with deaf performers and DJs.

“Inclusion is about awareness and the Incloodu Festival offers both,” said Dame Evelyn, “you don’t have to be deaf to enjoy the festival, but you would benefit in many ways from getting involved.”

Other international acts include Ted Evans, a filmmaker featured in the London Paralympic Opening Ceremony, Def Motion, an all deaf street dance crew, and Fletch@, a popular Deaf SignSong artist who has performed alongside Ronan Keating.

The festival will also celebrate local talent, such as the Whitechapel–based performance artist, Mikko Karhu, and budding deaf artists from St Paul’s Way Trust School, Mile End, in a programme featuring sign poetry, percussion, and VV (Verbal Vernacular) – a rapidly evolving hybrid of traditional mime and sign language.

Incloodu, the organisation behind the festival, is based at The John Scurr Community Centre, Limehouse, and aims to “elevate deaf awareness” and champion “the richness of a marginalised community.”

Mark Bushell, an Incloodu director said: “The festival will be highly educational for both Deaf and Hearing young people. There will be a great deal of ‘creative’ role models for young people and it will illustrate the diversity of talent that exists within Deaf culture.”

The evening programme features a number of Deaf Rave DJs including DJ Ceri, DJ Inigo, MC Geezer, and Deaf Rave pioneer Troi Lee.

Music played for Deaf audiences consists largely of heavy bass to enable people to feel the sound’s reverberations. Earplugs are recommended for hearing or hard of hearing patrons.

“It’s great for the Deaf community to have a social event for all ages,” said Lee, “We are proud of our Deaf Culture and it will be great to see everyone together as one unity.”

The Incloodu Deaf Arts Festival takes place at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green, from 11am-5pm and 7pm-1am on Saturday November 9.

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