Has there been a shift in attitudes towards disabled people?

accentuateAccentuate Symposium to debate what the legacy from London 2012 has really been

Cultural leaders, leading academics and disabled people are gathering together at the University of Brighton on 5 July 2013 to debate if there has been a positive legacy in the cultural sector for Deaf and disabled people in the 12 months since the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The Cultural Olympiad was a tremendous showcase of the huge array of incredible talents, skills and creativity we have here in the UK. In the same way that the Paralympic Games made tremendous progress in changing the public’s perceptions of disabled athletes, the Cultural Olympiad reminded us of the artistic and creative excellence that is thriving in our Deaf and disabled communities. I congratulate Accentuate on the incredible work they are now doing to ensure that this legacy is built on, and that new opportunities continue to open up for disabled people in the UK’s creative and cultural sectors.”

Keynote speakers sparking the day of debates include Rosie Sherrington (Social Inclusion and Diversity Advisor at English Heritage), Vidar Hjardeng MBE (broadcast journalist, honoured for services to visually impaired people), Jonathan Banks (Chief Executive of Public Art Think Tank – Ixia), Professor Nick Watson (Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research) and Carole McFadden (Drama & Dance Adviser for East Asia, China & Hong Kong, Middle East and North Africa, British Council). There will also be the premiere of a new animated short lecture by Dr Tom Shakespeare.

The event at the Sallis Benney Theatre, Brighton is being organised by Accentuate in partnership with The University of Brighton.  Accentuate is a programme which produces and commissions projects that challenge perceptions of disability.  Accentuate is funded by the Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting impact from London 2012 by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity.

Accentuate Programme Director Esther Fox says The Paralympic Games offered a platform to profile disabled athletes at a level that had never been seen before. Public attitudes were noticeably shifted, along with the sort of media attention which moved from “tragic and brave” towards genuine discussion about sporting talent. There was also a spotlight on creative talent, through the Cultural Olympiad events. The future looked bright. So where are we now? Very many disabled people still have real concerns and fears. So how can we continue the positive sea change in attitudes towards disabled people that we witnessed during Games time, as well as providing real access to opportunities for disabled people to develop career pathways within the creative and cultural industries?”

A headline debate will be followed by three further panels discussing positive legacy for young people, disability history in relation to the built environment and disabled artists forging careers in the public realm.


It is hoped there will also be a global audience getting involved via a live commentary on Twitter @AccentuateSE, with further debate at #CulturalShift warmly welcomed with comments and suggestions integrated during the Brighton event.

For further information and to book tickets – accentuatesymposium.eventbrite.co.uk

Accentuate seeks to change perceptions and offer a wide range of opportunities across England to showcase the talents of Deaf and disabled people.    Accentuate is ensuring disabled people have the opportunity to be leaders, in whatever field they choose.  Focussing on quality and bringing together arts, culture and heritage, Accentuate aims to change the perceptions of disability so a real cultural shift can occur.  Accentuate  continues to work towards this aim as well as being a leading hub for incubating ideas, initiating change and activating results.  Accentuate has been funded by Legacy Trust UK.  The home of Accentuate is Screen South. www.accentuateuk.org

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