Starting Line was Accentuate’s outdoor arts commission delivered in partnership with the Creative Programmer for London 2012 and Creative Junction. It was an original piece of work that told the story of the Paralympic Games, from Dr Guttmann’s first idea through to their present incarnation and beyond, it was presented to thousands as part of the Paralympic Flame Celebration in Aylesbury on August 28th 2012.
The disabled led integrated piece brought together an exciting creative team to challenge people’s perception of disability. In bringing together the energy of Rachel Gadsden and the enthusiasm of Candoco Dance Company’s young company, Freddie Opuko-Addie and the Artistic Director, Ryan Dawson Laight, a dynamic dance and visual arts work was created that explored the journey of a Paralympic athlete. An original soundtrack was scored by Jonny Pilcher and a new film by Abigail Norris presented a backdrop for the piece which included animation, creative narrative and Stoke Mandeville archive material. It proved to be a strong collaborative company with a clear vision and the potential to create further exciting work.
The piece also used inspiration from works of art and performances created by young people in the UK and abroad which reflected the heritage of Stoke Mandeville and celebrates the values of the Paralympic Games. Kick started in September 2011 with a 2-day residency at Stoke Mandeville, Creative Junction initiated and delivered an 18 month long international outreach programme which accompanied the piece. More than 300 disabled and non-disabled children and young people were engaged with artist led workshops taking place in Buckinghamshire, USA and South Africa and a network of creative projects inspiring the piece virtually through Creative Junction’s ecommunity, reaching out as far as Cambodia, Brazil, Ecuador and Australia. Artist led work also took place in Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injury Unit with both adults and young people who had recently become disabled.
Starting Line has been a fantastic opportunity for 4 young disabled people from Harding House School in Aylesbury who formed a young person’s panel: they were the voice of their peers on the project including visiting the artistic team during the final rehearsals in London.