Song contest to highlight impact of arts on disability

President Michael D Higgins will be the guest of honour at a European song contest in Cork tomorrow.

The competition in City Hall will be one of the highlights of a major arts festival for people with an intellectual disability or autism.

International experts will explore how people with such disabilities can engage with and contribute to the arts during the first conference of its kind in Ireland.

The Arts for Living conference at the Cork School of Music is part of the Irish Performing Arts Festival that runs until the weekend.

Founding director Eoin Nash said the festival will also feature performances at the Firkin Crane as well as on the streets of the city and county.

“There will be two world premieres of work by contemporary Irish artists, inspired and created by and with performers with a disability,” he said.

Project co-ordinator Deirdre Ó Tuama said several high-profile national and international experts are lined up for tomorrow’s conference.

They will share ideas and explore the building of new creative partnerships between able bodied and disabled people working in the visual and performing arts, Ms Ó Tuama said.

“Creative arts can shed light on disability and give voice to those with a disability,” she said.

During the conference animators, musicians, film makers, writers, and artists will showcase work.

Among the speakers are the creative team behind the Ifta-nominated animation series, Punky.

It was created by Lindsay Sedgwick and Monster Animation’s Gerard O’Rourke, and narrated by Aimee Richardson, who has Down’s syndrome.

Other speakers will include members of UK-based music group Carousel, Tara Brandel and Mary Nugent from integrated dance company Croí Glan, visual artist Marie Brett, art therapist John McHarg and Padraig Naughton, the director of Arts and Disability Ireland.

* www.irishperformingarts.ie

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