By Tim UK/Indonesia 2016-18

05 February 2018 - 09:45

Ruth Gould, Artistic Director of DaDaFest. ©

British Council

As UK/ID moves into its third year, it sharpens its focus on arts and disability to tie in with Asian Para Games, coming to Jakarta later in 2018.

To reinforce this agenda, the British Council is keen to cooperate with a wide range of partners including government, NGOs, arts sector, media, and corporates – in Indonesia and internationally.

The preparation started back in September 2017, when British Council hosted a roundtable discussion about arts and disability, raising awareness of the opportunity presented by the Asian Para Games 2018. The participants included arts organizations, disabled artists from around the globe, disability NGOs, representatives of the Ministry of Youth & Sport and the Ministry of Education & Culture.

Fast forward to early February, and the process has been moving on with the arrival of the DaDaFest and Epic Arts, generating discussions and fresh ideas that can be applied in the arts plans for Asian Para Games 2018.

One of our Jakarta visitors was Ruth Gould, Artistic Director of DaDaFest, a Liverpool-based innovative disability arts organisation, active in promoting high quality disability and deaf arts from the lived experience of deaf and disabled people. They also provide opportunities for disabled people to access the arts via training and a young people’s programme that’s led by young disabled people themselves.

The whole-hearted DaDaFest vision is to inspire, develop, celebrate talent and excellence in disability and deaf arts.

DaDaFest is initiated by a company named DaDa which is short for Disability and Deaf Arts. They have delivered disability arts projects since it was first founded as Arts Integrated Merseyside (AIM) in 1984. DaDaFest started as an annual festival in 2001, then continued as a biennial event from 2010 and remained truly ambitious and international in scale, bringing about social change by placing disabled artists in the spotlight.

Anthony Evans, Program Development Manager at Epic Arts. ©

British Council

Ruth was joined in Jakarta by Anthony Evans, Program Development Manager at Epic Arts, an international inclusive arts organisation, based in Cambodia and registered in the UK.

Epic Arts use the arts as a form of expression and empowerment to bring people with and without disabilities together. They have been working in Cambodia since 2001, when community dance artist Katie McCabe started working with small groups of disabled people in Phnom Penh. In 2003, she moved  to Kampot and started working in what is now known as The Epic Arts Cafe. As the project participants grew, the Epic Arts Centre was built in 2009.

Epic Arts’ openness doesn’t stop only at disabilities, because they also celebrate diversity in religious belief, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and background. As their mission statement says, “We believe in integrity, understanding, acceptance, development, equality and the inclusion of all… and most of all we believe in people.”