Roll on Reunion

I’m really excited to announce that I’m going to be one of nine guest curators for one of the Southbank Centre’s Summer Reunion taking place over the summer. With help from the Southbank, we’ll create an outdoor programme that reunites artists and audiences as they welcome back visitors.

As a Londoner I strongly associate the Southbank Centre with hanging out and sharing creative experiences with friends. I’m honoured to be involved and can’t wait to get stuck into planning a weekend full of inclusive joy. At the same time, I want to make sure we make space to think about those we can’t be reunited with.

Here’s an overview of what I’ve planned:

Friday 30th July – Kindness and Chaos – There’s never been a more urgent need to take up space and be seen. This will be a showcase of some of our most exciting disabled artists and will also offering a platform for new and emerging talent.

Saturday 31st July – The Party of Possibilities – A glorious day of spontaneous inclusive creativity and chance encounters for all ages. Expect music, cabaret, spoken word, dance, theatre, comedy and memorable mischief at every turn!

Sunday 1st August – Reset Rebellion – Sunday will explore the intersections of joy and solidarity and will make space to reflect on those who can’t be with us.

As a disabled artist, creating inclusive spaces where everyone feels free to be themselves is a priority. My weekend will showcase the diversity and richness of disability culture and its exciting intersections. Expect a playful, accessible, multisensory programme with an emphasis on laughter and imaginative possibilities.

This is a brightly coloured digital illustration or the outside staircase at the Southbank centre in the colour yellow. There is a blue sky, a white cloud, a rainbow coming out from the top of the staircase, a pink straw, orange heart shaped sunglasses and an orange and yellow lemon wedge.

For me the pandemic’s been important in highlighting how interconnected we all are, as well as how quickly change can happen. I want to explore how Southbank can spin back into action with inclusivity right at its core.

After a full year of shielding, the idea of being back in a public space fills me with excitement, but it also feels quite daunting. My aim is to create a programme that gives disabled and non-disabled people opportunities to connect with ideas and with each other in fresh and meaningful ways. Reunion is about discovering ways for us to be together now – ways to be joyful, ways to reflect, and ways to share perspectives and experiences.

I’ve learned a lot over the last year about what’s important to me, both personally and for Touretteshero as an organisation. We’ve been talking more deeply about the role of solidarity in our communities. My weekend will prioritise collaboration and provide creative opportunities for people of all ages. Reunion is such a great theme to programme around – it’s an opportunity to be reunited with artists whose work I’ve missed over the lockdown months. It’ll be a celebration of disability arts and culture for everyone to enjoy.

There’s growing apprehension amongst disabled creatives, particularly those who have been shielding, that we risk further marginalisation as the cultural sector swings back into action. There’s a real concern that the barriers our communities have fought to remove for generations will abruptly re-emerge. The Reunion weekends are a powerful opportunity to show audiences and artists that they’re valued, thought about, and welcome.

Disability culture is shared culture, and I’m excited to put together a programme that celebrates its brilliance.

5 responses to Roll on Reunion

  1. barbara.renel says:

    Maybe this is the incentive I need to visit London. xxx

  2. barbara.renel says:

    I think that in the past, when I pressed ‘post comment’ it told me that it was waiting for approval. But nothing seemed to happen with my previous comment here so I didn’t know whether it had worked. I’ll see what happens now and let you know on messenger xxx

  3. barbara.renel says:

    I can see my comments now.

  4. barbara.renel says:

    I need to press ‘post comment’ twice before it works. First time nothing happens. Second time the comment shows and I can see it is awaiting moderation. I’ll try once now and wait a bit. I’ll use messenger to tell you what happens Jess. x

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