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Short Circuit: disability artistry beyond 2012

  • Date: 28 May 2013
  • Area: South East

2012 was an unprecedented year for arts and culture, with more than £36 million Arts Council England funding invested into arts and cultural projects across England.

In the South East, we focused much of our investment on raising the profile of the region's outstanding Deaf and disabled artists and creating a lasting legacy for their work.

Short Circuit is a new initiative funded through the Arts Council that aims to harness that legacy and 'keep the disabled creativity and perspective central' by matching Deaf and disabled artists with creative technologists to enable innovative new work. 

'Despite 2012, disabled artistry can often be compartmentalised,' says Sarah Pickthall, freelance disability arts producer and curator, who is co-developing Short Circuit alongside long-time collaborator Jo Verrent.

'Short Circuit evolved from the desire to keep challenging that by using what we'd learned from creating digital arts content for our 2012 project Push Me for The Space, working with Watershed and BDH in Bristol.

'We wanted to create a digital arts project that put disabled artists in the driving seat and to prove that digital culture is for everyone to harness, consume and to create with and that the experience of impairment - rather than restricting - can be rich fuel for that journey.'

Jon Pratty, our Relationship Manager, Digital and Creative Economy, South East, agrees: 'There is a widely held view that technology holds all sorts of barriers for disabled people. For a plethora of disabled creatives the opposite is true: it has allowed them to extend their reach, their enquiry, access more than ever before and make better art for more people.

'There are simple solutions to accessibility that can be found through collaboration and play.'

On 1 May, Short Circuit's first open event Open Circuit, hosted by Mozilla London, brought together disabled creatives and creative technologists to explore some provocative questions about developing new audiences for the arts. How can you use digital to explore the sound you cannot hear in choreography? How can transmedia storytelling shake up your artistic process? If you're interested in finding out how Open Circuit answered those questions, visit the blog.

So what's next for Short Circuit? Brighton's Lighthouse will host Short Circuit on the weekend of 8 and 9 June. The project is being supported by We are Caper, drawing on their experience of running Culture Hacks.

The weekend will see a collective of creatives working together to explore story and sound, including artists Jon Adams, Rubbena Aurangzeb Tariq and Rachel Gadsden. They will be joined by creative technologists Dave Packer of Sheepfilms, Peter Pavement from Surface Impression, and Andy Armstrong from the BBC to explore the potential of kit such as the Raspberry Pi, a neat lightweight computer that has already being hacked for accessibility for blind and visually impaired users in the digital community.

Join in the conversation on Short Circuit's progress on Twitter using #ShortCircuit. For more information, see