University of Brighton graduate and recipient of an honorary doctorate degree, Alison Lapper MBE, has been chosen as Freedom Season Ambassador for the Brighton Fringe Festival.
The Freedom Season was created in 2018 as a way for disabled, neuro-diverse, deaf and hard of hearing audiences and artists to access the festival more easily. The season hosts performances by disabled artists, as well as highlighting venues and events which are accessible to those with visible and invisible disabilities.
The University has supported the event by providing Freedom Season bursaries worth £500 to help disabled artists with free registration, rehearsal space and venue.
Alison, a renowned artist, TV presenter and speaker, was the subject of the sculpture ‘Alison Lapper Pregnant’ on a plinth in Trafalgar Square between 2005 and 2007.
Alison, born with no arms and shortened legs, said the season is important because it helps disabled artists to express themselves on the same level as other performers: “When I was a student, there were hardly any accessible spaces.
“Quite often, instead of using my energy being creatively stimulated when producing an installation, I would be constantly and anxiously looking for a suitable accessible creative space.
“It usually resulted in me severely compromising just because of my disability.”
Alison believes disabled artists are not taken seriously enough: “We are not respected in the same way as other artists.
“There seems to be an unseen glass wall that keeps us apart from other artists and I know that the Freedom Season is helping to smash through that wall.
“It builds artists’ confidence and encourages them to express themselves more openly and freely.
“I can’t express enough how psychologically important this kind of project is for disabled people to be seen as equal to everybody else.
“The event allows them to be artists like any other artists, and not just ‘disabled artists’ and that’s irrespective of their disability, whether physical or mental.”
The full Brighton Fringe programme is released online on 20 February and will include ‘Till We Win’ by Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists who are the first recipients of the new University of Brighton Freedom Season bursary.
A University spokesperson said: “Inclusivity is a core value of the University and we are very proud to be able to support such an initiative alongside our alumna Ali Lapper, and to host Extraordinary Bodies’ performance at the University’s Sallis Benney Theatre in May.”
Speaking on their bursary win, Extraordinary Bodies said; “We are delighted to be able to bring our performance to Brighton Fringe for the first time this year thanks to the University of Brighton
Freedom Season Bursary. We cannot wait to come and we are absolutely thrilled to be part of Brighton Fringe 2020.”
Bursary recipients will be performing at 6.30pm on 2 May at the Sallis Benney Theatre in the University’s City Campus in Grand Parade, Brighton. Tickets (£8 and £6 concessions) can be bought from 20 February at the theatre. For more information visit https://www.brightonfringe.org/whats-on/