Posted on March 14, 2013

As part of Qatar-UK 2013, an initiative of mandated yearlong events aimed at consolidating the growing partnership between Qatar and the United Kingdom, The British Council’s soon to be launched Arts and Disability festival attracted significant support from local entities.

The British Council, working in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Arts & Heritage is set to open the festival on the 15th of March 2013. Activities associates with the event will go on till the 30th of March 2013. Among the Qatari organisations coming forward to wholeheartedly support the British Council’s efforts are MADA, Al Noor Institute, Qatar Society For Rehabilitation of Special Needs and The Qatari Centre of Social Cultural for the Deaf. Katara Cultural Village is lending their premises to host the festival.

While Qatar-UK 2013 is a creative collaboration between the two countries celebrating and exchanging art, culture, education, sport and science based experiences, the Arts and Disability Festival is set to unveil a series of activities and events including live performances, exhibitions, artistic installations, films, discussions and practical workshops.

The local organisations that have come on board to support the Arts and Disability Festival share the commitment of The British Council to use the festival to raise awareness of disability especially within the arts sector and among wider society, with a view of breaking stereotypes that negatively impact individuals with special needs.

Director of Youth Events and Activities at the Ministry of Culture, Arts & Heritage, Abdulrahman Al Hajiri said, “This festival is a confirmation of Qatar’s commitment and the leading role it is willing to play in support of persons with disabilities. The key collaborations, which are part of this festival, are symbolic of Qatar’s success in achieving integration with others. That is a long term policy, which has been applied by Qatar in its partnerships with all institutions”

Sheikh Thani Bin Abdallah Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar Society for Rehabilitation of special needs said “We believe in the capacities of people with disability and we support them in every way.  We are convinced that based on the slogan of our organization there’s nothing impossible for disabled people. So we are proud to support this event.”

Head of Communications Awareness and Outreach MADA, Ahmed Habib said “ as an organization dedicated to provide advice, training and communication technologies specifically adapted to meet the needs of people with a range of disabilities, we are happy to be part of this festival and offer a technology solution to assist it.”

Dr. Hayat Khalil Nathar Director of Shafallah institute for visually impaired, said “ we are very are very pleased to participate in this festival through by supplying braille brochures. The festival will have positive effect on people with disability, and we consider it a duty to support such event that serves this part of our society.”

Al Noor institute, valued in Qatar for the role it plays in catering to the needs of the visually impaired, is supporting the event by providing promotional material in Braille thereby paving the way for the visually impaired to be part of the festival.The Qatari Centre of Social Cultural for the Deaf, whose mandate is to care for people with Audio Disabilitiesoffering special assistance in the fields of education, awareness and entertainment, has supplied the festival with the required sign language interpreters. The team from The Qatari Centre of Social Cultural for the Deaf will also participate in scripting the activities of the festival and offering support at all live events.

MADA, Qatar’s leading Assistive Technology Centre has thrown the full weight of their competencies behind the Arts and Disability festival. Using its capacities to create a high-end technology solution, MADA has created a special iPad application for the exhibition integrating captions, audio and sign language interpretation. As a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting people with disabilities to the world of information and communication technology MADA’s support is set to enhance the impact of the Arts and Disability Festival by ensuring maximum accessibility to special needs audience groups as well as Qatar’s technology savvy public.

Commenting on the collaboration with these key partners, Project Manager Lana Kayed of the British Council said, “ We are greatly encouraged by the unstinted support we are receiving locally for the Arts and Disability Festival. Since this was a first of its kind initiative The British Council had to first share our vision with these partners. I am happy to say that these organisations didn’t hesitate to join us and work together to build bridges between special needs communities and the general public. The fact that we are using multiple creative platforms to carry our message really captured the imagination of these organisations dedicated to serve the interest of special needs groups. We are so pleased that they are offering crucial assistance to the festival in each of their fields of specialty.” 

The Arts and Disability Festival will feature a selection of works from Unlimited, a celebration of work produced by deaf and disabled artists that was held at the Southbank Centre in London last year, to coincide with the London 2012 Paralympic Games. New works commissioned to encourage Deaf and disabled artists to push their artistic boundaries and they will also be on display in Doha in addition to the dance, music, visual arts and film elements of the festival.

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