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Aylesbury Paralympic Flame Celebration spotlights South East’s world class Deaf and disabled arts, supported by Arts Council England

  • Date: 23 August 2012
  • Area: South East
Mock up of Flame show from Shared Space & Light, Aylesbury Paralympic Flame Festival, 2012

Mock up of Flame show from Shared Space & Light, Aylesbury Paralympic Flame Festival, 2012. Credit: Shared Space & Light

A festival celebrating the 24-hour Paralympic Torch Relay brings the South East’s best artistic talent to the streets of Aylesbury as part of a four-day UK wide event, giving local people a chance to experience the Paralympic Games in a moment of a lifetime. 

To celebrate, Aylesbury Vale District Council and partner organisations are running a free Aylesbury Paralympic Flame Celebration, which takes place on Tuesday 28 August from 10am to 10.30pm and showcases work from the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, a four-year celebration designed to encourage the widest range of people across the whole of the UK to get involved in the London 2012 Games.

The celebration has an incredible arts line-up that includes the South East’s internationally and nationally renowned Deaf and disabled artists and arts organisations including:
•    Award-winning disabled visual artist Rachel Gadsden
•    Integrated non-disabled and disabled dance company Candoco Dance Company, an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation
•    Integrated dance company StopGAP Dance Company, an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation
•    Filmmaker Gary Thomas
•    Freewheelers Theatre

The Aylesbury celebration will see the world premiere of Light Up the World, an animation about the Paralympics by 497 young disabled and non-disable young people from 12 Countries across the globe, as part of Driving Inspiration programme.

Aylesbury Paralympic Flame Celebration has been supported with a £129,350 Arts Council England Grants for the arts award. Grants for the arts is Arts Council England’s open application funding programme. It invests National Lottery money to support activities that engage people in the arts and helps artists and arts organisations with their work.

Aylesbury is home to Stoke Mandeville, historic birthplace of the Paralympic Movement. Inspired by this, the Cultural Olympiad in the South East of England has worked for four years developing the Deaf and disabled led arts and cultural sector. Over 30% of work in the South East regional programme is led by a disabled artist leading or includes disabled participants. With the Paralympic Games around the corner, this work is now reaching its climax.

Stoke Mandeville will host the first ever Paralympic movement exhibition, Pathway to the Paralympic Games, which tells the story of the Paralympic Movement from 1948 to modern day including Sir Ludwig Guttmann, who revolutionised treatment for those with spinal injuries and his work in Buckinghamshire.

Caterina Loriggio, Creative Programmer for London 2012, South East says: ‘We have been able to use the London 2012 framework, supported by Legacy Trust UK through Accentuate and using public funding by Arts Council England, to develop many new opportunities for disabled audiences in the region. We have commissioned new shows and exhibitions, organised large-scale showcase events as well as offering training and leadership programmes. We have also worked to make events more accessible for disabled audiences including funding an access toolkit and training 95 festival organisations and Local Authorities to deliver more accessible events.’

With the eyes of the world on Aylesbury and Stoke Mandeville, audiences in Market Square Stage and Kingsbury Music Stage will enjoy a special evening spectacle to mark the moment when the Paralympic Torch travels through Aylesbury town centre moments just after it’s been created at Stoke Mandeville – the start of the relay.

The evening includes Welcome Songs from folk artist Eliza Carthy, Robert Hollingworth and I Fagolini, and community choirs, as part of London 2012 Festival; Starting Line, an exciting dynamic 20-minute collaborative performance choreographed by Freddie Opoku-Addaie and directed by Ryan Dawson Laigh; and lastly the Flame, a 25-minute fire, light, and projection finale from pyrotechnic wizards The World Famous and video mapping specialists Shared Space and Light.

The Starting Line performance features live painting/drawing from international visual artist Rachel Gadsden, Abigail Norris’s film inspired by the Paralympics Games and young disabled dancers from Candoco Dance Company. The piece was commissioned by Accentuate, the London 2012 legacy programme for the South East, as part of the London 2012 Paralympic Flame Festival.

The Aylesbury Paralympic Flame Celebration is managed in partnership with Buckinghamshire County Council, Accentuate, and Wheelpower; it is produced by Big Difference Company.

Arts Council England is a Principal Funder of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival.

Marina Norris, Senior Manager, Corporate Planning and London 2012 lead, South East, Arts Council England says: 'It's fantastic that the Arts Council has been able to support such a massive community celebration that brings together sports and arts in honour of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the Torch Relay. The Aylesbury Paralympic Flame Celebration has a great line up - it puts our extremely talented Deaf and disabled artists right on centre stage. We're delighted that Aylesbury Vale District Council has organised it with the support of partners, artists and local communities. Events like this show what a powerful impact the arts can make. We hope that as many people as possible will enjoy the celebration.’

For more information on the Aylesbury Paralympic Flame Celebration, see: The Pathway to the Paralympic Games exhibition runs from 29 August to 16 September, at Bowls Centre at Stoke Mandeville. The exhibition is part of the Legacy Trust UK’s Accentuate programme, The Guttmann Legacy