London 2012: Disabled artists launch Unlimited Festival

Image caption, Claire Cunningham's Menage a Trois is one of the highlights

An event showcasing the work of nearly 200 disabled and deaf artists will open as part of the London 2012 Festival in August.

Unlimited features 29 new commissions, including artist Sue Austin's film documenting her performances in a self-propelled underwater wheelchair.

"It could transform opportunities for deaf and disabled artists," said 2012 Festival director, Ruth Mackenzie.

Unlimited runs at London's Southbank Centre from 30 August to 9 September.

The event will also feature the debut performance from the Paraorchestra, which was founded last year.

Image caption, Graeae theatre's The Garden is an outdoor production

Other projects include an audio-visual installation by the Dean Rodney Singers - a group of 72 disabled and non-disabled musicians, singers and dancers from seven countries, put together by 22-year-old autistic artist Rodney.

Award-winning performer and choreographer Claire Cunningham will also star in Menage a Trois, a piece of dance theatre exploring her 20-year relationship with her crutches.

She will also direct 12 for the Candoco dance company, a large-scale work featuring performers from China, Brazil and the UK.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson will host a cabaret evening featuring the likes of Ruby Wax and performer and disability rights campaigner Jonny Crescendo.

On tour

Mackenzie said at the launch that it was "a very special day".

"I inherited many brilliant projects when I took over [responsibility for the Cultural Olympiad] in 2010 but none more brilliant than this," she added.

Moira Sinclair from Arts Council England, which is one of the festival's backers, said she hoped it would create a lasting legacy.

"This is not a project that finishes when the Olympics finishes. We want to create a step-change," she said.

The festival will also include a series of discussions on disability in the arts and workshops.

Some of the commissions will tour other parts of the UK before being showcased at the Southbank Centre.

The London 2012 Festival is a 12-week programme of arts events that runs alongside the Olympics and Paralympics.

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