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New work by disabled and deaf artists presented alongside the London 2012 Paralympic Games
'Fusional Fragments' by Marc Brew with Dame Evelyn Glennie. Photo: Irven Lewis.

LONDON.- With just eight days to go until the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, London 2012 Festival presents a ground-breaking series of commissions by disabled and deaf artists in the Unlimited programme. Originally initiated as part of the Cultural Olympiad, the programme represents the largest ever series of commissions to disabled and deaf artists and celebrates their work on an unprecedented scale across the UK.

The Paralympic Games has grown from its inception as a wheelchair archery competition at a hospital for British World War II veterans in 1948 to become one of the largest international sporting events held today. In the same vein, The Unlimited season is the UK’s largest programme of its kind, with 29 diverse commissions presented across the UK ranging in art form, including dance, visual arts, music, comedy, circus and theatre. To coincide with the London 2012 Paralympic Games, all 29 commissions will be brought together in London at Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival (30 August – 9 September).

The Unlimited programme has encouraged collaborations and partnerships between disability arts organisations, disabled and deaf artists, producers, and mainstream organisations to celebrate the inspiration of the ParalympicGames, and to produce original and exciting work that breaks down barriers.

The programme features 200 artists, including Claire Cunningham, Sue Austin, Garry Robson, Mat Fraser, Marc Brew, Bobby Baker, Candoco Dance Company, David Toole, Caroline Bowditch, Laurence Clark, Simon Allen, Sinéad O’Donnell, Simon McKeown, Janice Parker, Jez Colbourne, Mish Weaver, Paul Cummins, Rachel Gadsden, Kaite O’Reilly Maurice Orr, The Graeae Theatre Company, DASH Arts, Chris Tally Evans, Joel Simon, Helen Petts, Ramesh Meyyapan, and featuring international collaborations with artists from Brazil, China, Australia, South Africa, Japan, Germany and Croatia.

Ruth Mackenzie, Director of London 2012 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad said: “The Unlimited programme is unprecedented, offering more commissioning for disabled and deaf artists than any Cultural Olympiad or festival to date. We are delighted tohave had the opportunity to work with world-class artists who have created brilliant work that will inspire and change perceptions when we welcome theworld to London during the London 2012 Paralympic Games. I hope this will beone of our most important legacies for future Games and for disabled and deaf artists both in the UK and internationally.”

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, said: “The Paralympics changed sport forever in terms of people’s understanding of the talent of disabled people. Unlimited provides the same platform for Deaf and disabledartists to show the extraordinary talent, range and perseverance necessary to make great work. This is a milestone event for culture not just in the UK but across the world.”

Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company said: "Having being an artistic advisor for the Unlimited programme since 2009, I am thrilled that it forms such a large part of the London 2012 Festival. For me, it has beenwonderful to be part of this globally recognised platform for Deaf and disabled performers. Unlimited provides the opportunity for artists to profile theirskills, innovation and pioneer creative accessibility with a commitment to create work which is excellent but also informs and challenges. This is something I am passionate about and I embrace our uniqueness. Unlimited inspires a new generation of Deaf and disabled artists, transforms perceptions, and provides a stunning finale to the Cultural Olympiad".

Unlimited is principally funded by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor, and is delivered in partnership between London 2012, Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the British Council.

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