Starting Line was an Accentuate 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 an audience of thousands as part of the Paralympic Flame Celebration in Aylesbury during summer 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 created a dynamic dance and visual arts piece exploring 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. Starting with a 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, 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 was described as a fantastic opportunity by the 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 rehearsal in London.
Starting Line was developed and delivered for Accentuate, a transformational programme of 15 projects, inspired by the Paralympic Movement, which sought to change perceptions and offer opportunities to showcase the talents of deaf and disabled people. Accentuate was funded by Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting impact from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK, SEEDA and the regional cultural agencies. Screen South is the home of Accentuate.