New Three Year Talent Development Programme for Filmmakers with Disabilities

Posted: 17th July 2015

Tyneside-based Beacon Hill Arts is one of four organisations across the UK to receive funding from the first round of Spirit of 2012’s  Arts and Culture Challenge Fund, which aims to create opportunities for disabled people of all backgrounds to participate in arts and cultural activities, individually and with their families and friends. 

Beacon Hill Artsproject, which is also being supported by the Tyneside-based Sir James Knott Trust, is a talent development programme called “Viewfinder” for filmmakers with learning disabilities, autism and additional needs.

Project members will attend a regular programme of Filmmaking Surgeries to develop talents in specific film production areas, and showcase their abilities through a series of professionally commissioned filmmaking opportunities in partnership with charitable organisations.

Zosia Feher, filmmaker and Beacon Hill Arts Steering Group member said: “The project is important because it will build skills and confidence in filmmaking which will have a positive impact on other areas in life such as finding employment and being independent.”

With over 60 festival screenings across three continents and more than 20 awards, Beacon Hill Arts has developed an impressive track record in supporting filmmakers with disabilities and autism create and exhibit convention-breaking and ambitious work. Figures from across the creative sectors have praised their productions, including comedian Bob Mortimer, broadcaster Lauren Laverne and Palme d’Or award-winning British filmmaker Ken Loach.

Andrew Coats, Creative Director at Beacon Hill Arts said: “We are so delighted that our Spirit of 2012 project has been successful. Our Viewfinder project will offer a lasting opportunity for talented filmmakers with learning disabilities, autism and additional needs to develop and progress their skills and bring them closer to achieving their creative and personal ambitions within the film industry and beyond.”

Will Sadler, Development Director, added “People with disabilities and autism are chronically underrepresented in the film and TV industries. The talent and potential of filmmakers with disabilities needs to be recognised and supported – not only to provide creative opportunities but also to challenge audiences to rethink their view of disability. We hope this project will become part of efforts to do this.”

The Spirit of 2012 Challenge fund opened for applications in February this year and received a total of 225 applications from all over the UK. The Challenge fund is one of Spirit of 2012’s flagship programmes and aims to build on the success of the London 2012 Paralympic Games in challenging perceptions of disability (including self-perceptions) and empowering disabled people to better participate in their communities

Debbie Lye, Chief Executive of Spirit said: “I am confident we have selected four outstanding projects, in spite of receiving many wonderful applications. It was hugely encouraging to see the quality of activity going on across the country, and just how many organisations are working to create lasting social change through creativity.”

The programme will begin in September 2015. Further information can be found on Beacon Hill Arts' website.

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