This year’s Liberty disability arts festival will feature disabled stars of music, dance, comedy and street theatre, and circus and aerial displays.
Highlights of the free festival include a performance by Deaf Men Dancing, a film on 60 years of disability arts, performance artist Bobby Baker, French jugglers Juggle Deaf, and the children’s theatre of Kazzum.
Instead of its usual setting of Trafalgar Square, Liberty will this year take place across two venues on London’s South Bank, on Saturday 3 September.
An afternoon of music and cabaret in The Clore Ballroom, inside the Royal Festival Hall – which is part of the Southbank Centre complex – will be compered by comedians Steve Day and Liz Carr, with a line-up including soprano Victoria Oruwari, stand-up Kiruna Stamell and rapper Lady MJ.
Julie McNamara will be in Theatre Square, outside the National Theatre, to compere dance and performance including Graeae’s Rhinestone Rollers and the disabled aerialists of Cirque Nova.
This year, rather than being a festival in its own right, Liberty is being staged as part of celebrations of the 60th Anniversary of the Festival of Britain at the Southbank Centre, and the National Theatre’s Watch This Space Festival.
The performances outside the National Theatre will take place from 1pm to 7.30pm, with those in The Clore Ballroom between 1pm and 5pm.
Concerns have been raised about the decision to move the festival from Trafalgar Square to the South Bank, with fears that its new, less central location will not make as strong a statement about the importance of disabled people and their culture to London.
There have also been concerns about access, but organisers say the festival will be “as accessible as possible for artists and audience”, with features including information and access areas at both the Southbank Centre and the National Theatre; BSL interpreters; audio description; induction loops; accessible toilets; stewards; viewing areas; medical facilities; a wheelchair loan service; a charging point for electric wheelchairs and scooters; and an assistance dogs area.